Most teachers have a constant list of educational trends, theories and techniques they wish they had time to learn about during the school year but just can’t seem to find the time. Summer is the perfect time for teachers to explore professional development driven by their own interests and passions. Teachers don’t have to attend classes, workshops and conferences to investigate their professional interests. Twitter can provide educators an inexhaustible source of fast and inexpensive professional development, perfectly packaged for summer learning!
Many educators don’t realize that Twitter is the perfect tool for them! They may think that is purely about social interactions and gossip, not learning. Several aspects of the Twitter format make it especially useful for educators!
1. As teachers follow other educational practitioners, they can pick and choose what they want to pursue, customizing for their needs. Not every tweet is equally relevant to their interests, but every tweet offers a potential opportunity! It offers an opportunity to discover new ideas, prove or disprove their own beliefs, improve their techniques, build enthusiasm and make connections with educators around the globe!
2. Twitter is learning in a hurry! In a few seconds, a Twitter user can assess the relative value of a tweet and decide whether or not it is something they are interested in. Within a very short time, they can find new ideas! Twitter users often share infographics and memes which also expresses ideas quickly and easily!
3. Twitter is a fantastic tool even for the casual "creeper"/"lurker". These are the terms my teenaged daughters use for a person who follows but doesn't tweet. It sounds more menacing than it is, but the point is, even though Twitter is better when you jump in and make contributions and connections, it is really great for mining ideas as a passive observer! Just sign up for an account and follow a few prominent educators to get started!
4. Though it may sound harsh, if someone's tweets aren't useful for you learning interests, unfollow. Educators can build a Twitter professional network that works for them! It seems a bit unfriendly to unfollow, but that is what makes Twitter work as a PLN (Professional Learning Network)! It allows users the opportunity to filter out the noise and focus on what they need. More over, it allows tweeters to find an audience of people who enjoy what they have to say.
5. Twitter #chats are a fantastic way to focus on specific educational topics while also building Twitter professional relationships...dare I even say friendships! Chats are fast paced, jam-packed with ideas, and often include humorous banter among the participants. Trend in education are often discussed and provide participants with insights into the theories and realities of current trends such as Personalized Learning, Genius Hour, Flipped Classrooms, and Makerspaces.
6. Most importantly, these newly acquired Twitter ideas, from practical to theoretical, have a way of making their way back to each educator’s classroom and to students in the fall! Educators may find that it shifts their professional approach at a fundamental level as they incorporate these new ideas and bring new energy into their teaching!