Using Twitter to Learn This Summer
Instead of being in Boothbay, Maine right now at the Boothbay Literacy Retreat, learning alongside Penny Kittle, Kylene Beers, Teri Lesesne and Linda Rief, I'm here in Columbia, Missouri helping some kids recover an English credit that didn't quite happen this school year.
Don't get me wrong, it is rewarding work seeing these kids finish a book, finish a paper, give a presentation, which they did not do during the year.
But still. Boothbay, Maine. Yoga on the water. Choosing a beautiful new journal. Early morning writing with Linda Rief. Sigh.
Luckily, we have Twitter! I missed yesterday's conference, but today I'm sneaking in some catch-up time. I opened up TweetDeck, logged in and found the hashtag, #bblit16, and I'm in - finding nuggets in the tweets, like these gems:
Twitter is great - people tweet out most important ideas, and I'm gobbling them up. What a great way to stay current on best practice ideas. Any conference that is happening has a hashtag. Figure out what it is and you'll have a plethora of new ideas at your fingertips.
The other way that Twitter is fabulous for teachers is building connections. The teachers who attend conferences and tweet are great professional resources. I may not have a lot of colleagues in my building that do the same job I do, or who are passionate about learning the same things I'm interested in, but on Twitter I can find my tribe. Some of the people I already follow, like @shelfietalk and @jkarabinas, are in Boothbay this week. And there are new people that I'm sure I'll end up following.
So do I just follow and watch? Well, sometimes, for sure. But today, I'm taking notes, writing down ideas to weave into my work with the teachers in my PLC; ideas that I want to learn more about; books that I want to consider for our classroom and my own professional learning; and ideas to consider about my beliefs and my practice as a teacher. I'll also retweet ideas I want to save and maybe even ask some follow up questions in reply to some tweets. I also can come and go with Twitter. I'm helping students, so I'm checking in on breaks, lunch, whenever I have a few minutes. I don't have to be at the conferences to learn.
Twitter also reminds me how much is possible in my classroom and as a professional. I've watched people go from bloggers to authors of books; seen people go from attending conferences to presenting at them; and watched people take risks (like my friend Anna - @AnnaOz249 - who is now a Heinemann Fellow!) and apply for new opportunities all across the country.
In my own district, I stay connected with other educators and what they're trying through Twitter. I've connected with other educators across other buildings and grade levels who I otherwise would not have met. When we see what's possible for other educators, we begin to wonder if those things are possible for ourselves, and then we take risks and leap into something new.
Ultimately, I want to be the best educator that I can be so that the students in my class get the best education possible. Connecting with other educators on Twitter provides ideas and motivation; it helps me reflect on and improve my craft by feeling that I'm part of something bigger than myself.
There's still time - log on and follow #bblit16, or if you want a technology boost this week, check out #iste2016 (or maybe do both!). Professional development can happen wherever you are today with no cost except some time. Thank you, everyone at the Boothbay Literacy Retreat for sharing your learning with the world. We are enjoying living vicariously through your experience!