How on earth will you improve your teaching style, resources, connections to other educators, find out what is current in your field or even contribute to others if you do not have a PLN (professional learning network)? Do you read at least 2 journals in your field? Have you attended a workshop about your curriculum in the past six months? Have you ever presented at a faculty meeting or seminar of your peers? If you answered no to any of these questions, then you can improve your content with one easy connection, Twitter.
OK so you don’t get it. You feel like you have nothing to contribute. Well you can “lurk” for a long time and learn quite a bit. So let’s get started. First go to Twitter.com and create an account. It’s funny, but your Twitter handle is quite meaningful. Many people just use their name either first last or first initial last or a combination of the two. Some people use other words that are meaningful. So think about it.
Next, fill in your profile and be sure to put that you are an educator. People you want to follow may check your profile and see if you are in education before they follow back. Mention what level you teach and perhaps a hobby. There is not a lot of room for many facts.
Deciding who to follow is up to you. Here is a hint; find a person you know about and search for their name on the Twitter page and click on the follow button. Now look through their list of people THEY follow and select a few more people to follow by clicking on their name then the follow button. You will begin to collect people to follow this way. I follow other tech teachers I meet at conferences, workshops, people I read about and people I know through DiscoveryEducation.You are welcome to look at the list of people I follow (RMOM352) and select from my list. Don’t look at followers, look at the following. I also follow teachers in my building. Some people will follow you back, some will not.
Often I see Tweets that say “Please welcome my friend HamKidz to Twitter and follow her”. Then you may suddenly get some new followers. You still do not have to Tweet anything. Just follow others and glen ideas, links and lessons from teachers all over the country.
Another way you can addd to your PLN is to read some blogs about education or about your subject matter. You can search for bloggers in Google by using “elementary teacher blogs” or edtech teacher blogs and your return will list many choices. Read through the descriptions and read some, weekly. Make a commitment to read blogs from other teachers. You will be surprised what you can learn from this resource.
If you are reading this blog, then you know that DiscoveryEducation has blogs for many state organizations as well as some specialty blogs. This is a very good place to begin reading about content and education.
To find bloggers to follow, read the NEA journal or Scholastic Magazine, Teaching & Learning Magazine, or Edutopia. There are often articles by professionals that you can follow online.
Once you feel comfortable reading and learning from others, you are ready to contribute your latest lesson idea or something that worked in your classroom. On Twitter you only need less than 140 characters to share an idea, so being a prolific writer is not necessary!