Painful note to educational leaders: As a career teacher, I rarely learn anything useful in professional development sessions simply because the majority of the professional development sessions are presented once and never referred to again.
What’s more, the content covered in professional development sessions never seems to target my own teaching strengths and weaknesses and the structure of professional development sessions never seems to give teachers the opportunity to interact in meaningful ways with one another.
As a result, I can’t think of too many formal professional development opportunities that have changed who I am as an educator.
Twitter, on the other hand, seems to mean more and more to me every month. I figured I’d try to organize my thoughts here in yet another attempt to convince skeptics that Twitter’s worth a try.
Here’s why Twitter works for me as a meaningful form of professional development:
Twitter has changed how—and more importantly, when—I learn. I’m like any other educator. I struggle to find time for professional development in my already crowded day.
With Twitter, I can read and respond to messages easily from anywhere. Whenever I have a few minutes to spare—in parking lots, between classes, on lunch duty, waiting for flights at the airport, just before going to bed—I’m checking the messages posted by my Twitter network.
What’s more, following people with similar interests—middle school teachers, principals, professors in school leadership, educational technology junkies—means that Twitter serves as a great information filter for me.
The kinds of questions being asked and resources being shared are bound to be of interest to me simply because they’re being shared by people that care about the same things that I do.
Twitter lets me interact with experts I’ll probably never meet in person. Are you kidding? If I gave you the chance to look inside the mind of Diane Ravitch or Will Richardson for a while—to see the websites they’re exploring, to answer the questions they’re wrestling with, to read what they’re writing—you’d take it, wouldn’t you?
That’s what Twitter does for me…and it’s all instant, asynchronous and free!”
Twitter also forces me to be a more reflective learner, 140 characters at a time. Some of the most powerful learning experiences I’ve ever had started with nothing more than a Tweeted question.
Inevitably, the members of my network respond—either by adding to my ideas or challenging me to think in a new way. It’s this instant intellectual give-and-take that I like the best because I know that my final ideas will be far more polished than anything I started with.
My Twitter network is smarter and faster than any other group that I rely on for learning. It doesn’t matter what I need information on—samples of social media policies, new blogs to introduce to my students, links to articles on topics connected to my curricula—my Twitter network can find it for me almost instantly. That saves me a huge amount of time.
Tell me that ain’t the veritable definition of great professional learning, y’all—and then tell me why you’re not Tweeting.