One of my goals each summer is to find some way in which to achieve this growth. I try to find a great conference, or read a great book, but the goal is simple: come back to school invigorated by having been challenged through some kind of professional development. Without a doubt this summer was the biggest for me in terms of growth as an educator, and I have one medium to thank for it: Twitter.
We're back in school now, and I am still brimming with the excitement that comes from professional growth, I want to get as many teachers within my building as I can on Twitter; they need the resource, and we need to grow together as a team. To that point I've begun what I am calling the #GetConnected Challenge, a "Twitter in 5" challenge designed to encourage online discussion and afford a great way for the teachers in our building to pursue 21st Century professional development. The challenge will take place over the course of 5 weeks, with each week putting a new challenge in front of the teacher. The weeks lay out as follows:
Week 1- Make a professional Twitter. Put your picture up, fill in a bio, and send a Tweet. Familiarize yourself with the basic vocabulary and uses of Twitter:
- Hashtag- tagging and chats
- Direct messaging
If you have questions or need help, just ask!
Week 2- Brainstorm at least three ways Twitter could be used to advance your teaching, and Tweet the ideas with the hashtag #fhsconnect; this way we can all learn from your ideas. Remember that Twitter use in a classroom or for a teacher is not a “one size fits all” deal; it may work differently for you than others. Consider classroom posts, class hashtags, a connect to your blog, a connect to other blogs which inspire you, participating in a Twitter chat, etc.
Week 3- Follow at least 10 other users. Consider going to other teachers, even in the building, and seeing who they follow. Remember: the more people you follow, the more you’ll get out of Twitter! Building your PLN is key to getting the most out of Twitter!
Week 4- Post at least 3 Tweets that details something going on in your classes. It could be a text Tweet, picture of your class at work, etc. If you’re comfortable, post even more!
Week 5- Participate in a Twitter chat. These are usually titled with hashtags, and some of my favorites are #edchat, #sunchat, #saskedchat, #leadupchat, and #kidsdeserveit. Below, however, you will find a table with some other awesome options. By searching these hashtags, you can access prior discussions and/or posts. There are many that are content-area specific (mine is #sschat); look for those. If you find great chats that inspire you, please share with us!
Most Sundays, 9:00 am EST
Saturdays, 7:30 am
Teacher inspiration chat
Every week day, 5:30 am, all time zones
Teachers new to Twitter
Saturdays, 8 am EST
Tuesdays at 12 pm
Urban Ed Chat
First Sundays of the month, 9 pm EST
Mondays at 7 pm
Social Studies Chat
Mondays at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET
New Teacher chat
Wednesdays at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET
Week 6 and Beyond- Hopefully this has gotten you started down a road to growth. For some of you, perhaps this isn’t going to work. But I hope most of you see the value in this kind of 21st Century PD! My goal with Twitter is to try an commit at least 20 minutes a day. Some days I don’t, some days I go well beyond. But I know that I have honestly come treasure the relationships I have built, and continue to build, with my PLN, and I hope you find the same!
Without a doubt I'm excited about where this could take us as a school, and each teacher as individual educators. I've labeled this post as "Part 1" because I hope to reflect on the challenge at its conclusion, with (hopefully) great stories to share. Before I conclude I have to give credit where it's due. I am certainly not the first to encourage something like this in a school. I give big thanks to the advice and support of some EduRockStars: Abbey Dick (@abbeydick), Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd) and Adam Welcome (@awelcome).
Let's see how this goes, and let's grow together!