If you are a Twitter user, then there is no doubt that you are aware of the positive connections and benefits that can develop through becoming connected with other educators from around the globe. Recently, I had a chance to reflect on my own use of Twitter in the past two years, and thought I would share my thoughts.
I have been an avid Twitter user for about two years now. When I first starting using it, I really wasn’t sure how it could benefit me in an educational way. In fact, I don’t think I was even considering using it as a vehicle for professional development. Nor did I envision that I would actually meet face-to-face with some of the folks I had met on Twitter! That was in May of 2008.
I don’t remember using it a lot in the first few months for anything productive at all. It was only after I went to a summer conference for our state music education association that I realized the potential of the medium. I don’t remember a specific point at which this happened, but around this same time I began to become more interested in educational technology. I also slowly began to realize that there were a lot of educators out there using Twitter as a personal professional development tool.
For me, Twitter has become one of the single most important professional development tools. Because I am not a “core subject” teacher, much of the professional development provided by my school district does not immediately relate to me. Twitter helps me to fill that gap and allows me to stay informed on the latest developments in educational technology and music education. Through Twitter, I have constant 24/7 contact with a wonderful group of educators from around the world who are always willing to share information and encouragement. It is like having a teachers lounge with you at all times where you can share ideas with your colleagues and get immediate feedback.
What I love about using Twitter is that I can use it any time, anywhere. I may have just tried something new in class that went really well. After class, I may tweet about it and share it with my Twitter PLN. Maybe the new concept didn’t go so well. So, I may tweet about it and get instant feedback from my PLN with suggestions and tips. Sometimes, I may just have a question about how other teachers present a given topic. I can tweet about that and instantly receive many ideas!
Aside from the outstanding professional resource that Twitter has been for me, it has also been a really wonderful personal social networking tool! I have made friends with several folks on Twitter, and we keep in touch regularly through the medium, even though we may live thousands of miles away. We talk about our families and children, work, vacations, frustrations, and successes! I have even been lucky enough to meet some of my Twitter friends in person at conferences and workshops. There is really something special about meeting someone in person that you have only known online first. When you meet them for them first time, it is like meeting up with an old friend!
Over the last few years, I have really fallen in love with Twitter. I use it every day, and have grown so much as a person and an educator because I have a wonderful network of professionals and friends that I can be in touch with constantly. For me, it truly is one of the best professional development tools I have ever used!
If you have not used Twitter yet, I encourage you to give it a try! I would also welcome your comments and experiences in using Twitter as well!