Being a connected educator will change your practice!

Twitter will change the way you teach. If you’re looking for professional development that will make you a better educator, I guarantee – Twitter is the answer.

On the benefits of being a connected educator on Twitter, George Couros says,

Isolation is now a choice educators make.  We have access to not only information, but each other. We need to tap into that. … [H]aving that access 24/7 to great ideas through the medium and the connection to other teachers increases your chances on being great.

I began using Twitter professionally in 2011. I was looking for fresh ideas to bring to my classroom after a couple of years of having taught the same grade. The job of finding inspiring ideas was actually pretty easy: I started following a couple of well-known educator-focused blogs and websites, like Edutopia, and moved on to following authors of posts, users that they re-tweeted, and so on. Not long into using Twitter, I found an idea from Karen McMillan (@McTeach) about how to teach students to effectively comment on each others’ work using paper blogs. The idea that Karen shared on her blog offered strategies that really helped to solidify the importance of effective feedback and building and promoting online discussion. When I developed my own lesson plan based on Karen’s ideas, it translated to student work, discussion and ideas that really worked in my classroom. I’ve been sharing, learning and growing as an educator on Twitter ever since.

The convenience of using Twitter to grow as an educator is that it’s a professional development opportunity that’s in my pocket.

The convenience of using Twitter to grow as an educator is that it’s a professional development opportunity that’s in my pocket. It’s self-directed and therefore almost always relevant to my own thoughts, ideas and reflections on my practice. I routinely find a few minutes every day to scroll through my Twitter stream to see what great ideas educators are sharing. A growing number of Durham District School Board educators are exploring Twitter as an opportunity for professional growth. The DDSB Educators Twitter List curated by Innovation Officer Amanda Paterson offers a list of close to 200 DDSB educators currently using Twitter to connect with other educators both locally and globally.

There are many educators with stories just like mine. I reached out to a few of the names that show up often on my Twitter feed to ask them about their experience as a connected educator using Twitter to change their practice. Here are their stories:

Twitter Blog - Heidi

When and why did you start using Twitter professionally?

I only joined Twitter two years ago to communicate with parents and the community.  I posted student work and school information, here and there. My husband, another DDSB teacher, Mike Allum, was using it with success.  However, my Principal, Denise Nickerson, put out the challenge for all staff to tweet, and tweet widely.  Matthew Oldridge, my Math Specialist Instructor, was an avid Tweeter, and just posting student work, asking questions, starting dialogues, and getting so many ideas got me hooked.  It is the ultimate PD.

What do you typically tweet about?

Generally I tweet about what my students are doing in math class.  I generally have a math focus with my tweets, as I follow some amazing math educators from around the world.  However, I post questions, share ideas, and how technology is infused in my math and literacy programs. I have joined math chats which are a fun way to connect with other educators.

What impact has using Twitter had on your practice?

Oh, wow – good question.  Pushed me to be a better educator.  I put my ideas out there with the intent of learning and making them better, which makes me a better teacher.  It makes me push myself to grow and learn.  I have started blogging because of Twitter, which has forced me to reflect, and be open and honest about my experiences as a teacher.  Writing has become a way to reflect and think and better myself as an educator.

I put my ideas out there with the intent of learning and making them better, which makes me a better teacher.

Can you recall one particularly impactful moment you had as a connected educator on Twitter?

So many!  When Jo Boaler liked one of my tweets (ha!), Dr. Cathy Bruce and Dr. Ruth Beatty started following me. When Alice Keeler started following me.  When I had teachers from other boards ask me for lesson ideas, and want me to share.  I love sharing and learning and making the teaching profession accessible for all. There are times when I have implemented an idea I found through Twitter, and it went well with my students.  There are times when Twitter has forced me to question my teaching, and made me think. It truly has been an amazing learning experience.

Anything else you’d like to say about your experience as a connected educator?

I couldn’t be an effective educator without being connected!  I encourage all teachers to reach out on Twitter, Facebook — or, at least, start blogging!  The writing process is amazing for organizing and prioritizing your ideas. Even if you just ‘lurk’, you will learn so much!

Twitter Blog - Chris W

When and why did you start using Twitter professionally?

It was a part of my masters program for several courses (we use the hashtag #IDTiPs ). We also have promoted our blogs with twitter.

What do you typically tweet about?

Technology.

What impact has using Twitter had on your practice?

Twitter allows me to connect with others with similar interests; some creative uses of technology are often found there.

Can you recall one particularly impactful moment you had as a connected educator on Twitter?

Several. Eric Curts has a lot of stuff that lights a fire for me that I share with staff using email 🙂  At this year’s Connect Conference, a teacher reached out to me and knew me from Twitter. That was confirmation that some real-world connections to fellow teachers were being made that was exciting.

Anything else you’d like to say about your experience as a connected educator?

I wish students used Twitter more often.

Twitter Blog - Alycia

When and why did you start using Twitter professionally?

Because my admin was encouraging it.

What do you typically tweet about?

Awesome things happening in my classes or in our school.

What impact has using Twitter had on your practice?

Incredible! There is such a wealth of great ideas that so many people are willing to share. I have discovered ideas to use in my classes and ideas to share with colleagues. I’ve learned about resources (human and otherwise) that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise and tons and tons of ways to innovate and improve my own professional practice. I’m so grateful for such an easy, accessible and meaningful shift in my thinking and learning.

Can you recall one particularly impactful moment you had as a connected educator on Twitter?

Literally the moment Chris Taylor liked one of my tweets and then started following me. (No joke.) I felt validated, that what I was trying to do in my classroom was valuable and relevant. I occasionally struggle, as many educators do, that my admin aren’t always available come into my room to see what’s going on and give me affirmations and ideas for growth. Twitter has become the occasional pat on the back (and kick in the pants, @gcouros) I’ve needed to ensure I don’t stagnate as an educator.

Anything else you’d like to say about your experience as a connected educator?

It has truly made professional development so much more convenient and accessible and RELEVANT for me.

Twitter has become the occasional pat on the back (and kick in the pants) I’ve needed to ensure I don’t stagnate as an educator.

Twitter Blog - Mike

When and why did you start using Twitter professionally?

I’ve been on Twitter for the last 6 years. I’ve turned to Twitter to grow my PLC (professional learning community) – outside of my immediate school groups.

What do you typically tweet about?

Lately I’ve been trying to share the things going on in my classroom to my school’s hashtag. I’ve been working to get other teachers at my school to do the same. I tend to lurk a lot and soak in what is going on within my PLC. I re-tweet what I find interesting – so my Twitter feed is more like my attempt at curating: technology, social justice ideas, math and language.

What impact has using Twitter had on your practice?

Every time I dip into Twitter, I walk away with something useful that I can try tomorrow. I work though to not create an echo-chamber within my PLC. I look to have my ideas challenged and my practice stronger because of these interactions.

Every time I dip into Twitter, I walk away with something useful that I can try tomorrow.

Can you recall one particularly impactful moment you had as a connected educator on Twitter?

I saw that an EdCamp was coming to Hamilton. On a whim, I signed up for it (having no real idea what an EdCamp was) and attended on a Saturday. This one-day session completely changed the way that I teach – but more importantly – substantially grew my PLC. It was amazing. It is a dream of mine to get an EdCamp going here in Durham!

Anything else you’d like to say about your experience as a connected educator?

You can’t do this job alone. You need a good tribe of people to share the work. By connecting to others you can do this work together. I am so excited about the #DDSBshift hashtag because I can grow my PLC within Durham! For too long, Durham has had islands of excellent educators. It is now so exciting to finally connect!

Twitter Blog - Katy

When and why did you start using Twitter professionally?

January 2018. As prep for live Sketchnoting the Keynote Speaker at this year’s Libraries Conference, I read Jennifer Casa-Todd‘s book, Social LEADia, on which she was going to be speaking about. In her book (and talk!) she said, having no digital footprint is almost worse than having a digital footprint in this day and age. You can’t talk to your students about how to navigate social media and the internet if you don’t participate and experience it for yourself.  Good point. I unearthed the Twitter account I had made the year before but never really did anything with.

What do you typically tweet about?

I am definitely a retweeter about Visual Arts Education, Issues with Contemporary Artists (including some amazing Indigenous Canadian Artists that I follow), sketchnoting and creative brainstorming — I love “Open IDEO” for instance. When it comes to my own tweets, Twitter is still just for “professional development;”  it’s about sketchnoting or drawing activities I have done either myself or in the classroom.

What impact has using Twitter had on your practice?

As an art teacher in an elementary school you are often the only one (or maybe two) teaching rotary art. It can be isolating. You easily get stuck in just doing what you know over and over again. Twitter has allowed me to connect with a lot of elementary art teachers in the U.S. whom have active rotary arts and advocacy in elementary schools. It’s great to be inspired by and see what happens in other art studios.

Personally, as an artist you tend to just work on your own, in your own house. Twitter has allowed me to follow and connect with other Professional Associations and artists around the world too.  Sketchnote Hangouts happen weekly around the world online and are hosted by professional graphic recorders and sketchnoters. I am learning how to use my own iPad for drawing and art making and I’d say weekly, at least, I discover a new tip or skill to try out just by following other artists.

I think a lot of teachers are quietly, creatively, amazing people in their rooms. Twitter just gives you the opportunity to share that with a bunch of energetic, amazingly like-minded people

Can you recall one particularly impactful moment you had as a connected educator on Twitter?

I was recently approached by the president of an Art Educator Association to make a proposal for an upcoming conference on Sketchnoting in the classroom. This is really exciting to me and it wouldn’t have happened without Twitter — I would have just been quietly doing my thing at school and no one, besides the students, would know about it. She had been following me on Twitter and seen some of the activities I do and thought it might be of interest to conference.

Anything else you’d like to say about your experience as a connected educator?

A quote that has stuck with me (discovered on Twitter, of course!) is “the difference between Creative People and Innovative People is action.” I think a lot of teachers are quietly, creatively, amazing people in their rooms. Twitter just gives you the opportunity to share that with a bunch of energetic, amazingly like-minded people…and by finding those people, help you grow your learning in a quick and easy take it or leave format. 🙂

Twitter Blog - Elisabeth

When and why did you start using Twitter professionally?

I started my professional account in early 2013 because I wanted a different account that was not personal, which I could use to follow educators who interested and inspired me. Essentially, it was because I wanted to build and grow my professional learning network.

What do you typically tweet about?

This year, in my new role as teacher-librarian, I find that I share much more of what happens during the school day. I like to share interesting things that we are up to during class or recesses, or even discussions that I overhear. I often retweet and share articles that might interest students, families or staff, and sometimes include math challenges for students.

What impact has using Twitter had on your practice?

I think Twitter has helped me stay current with what is happening in the education world. I am able to read about new research, tools, practices, activities, etc. and then I can try things out for myself. I enjoy learning from teachers around the world. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about all the amazing things other DDSB educators are doing!

Can you recall one particularly impactful moment you had as a connected educator on Twitter?

This past fall, I saw a lot of posts about a certain website that harnessed student voice via video responses. I was inspired to try it with my students, and to share with staff. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Students for whom writing was a challenge, were able to share thoughtful responses that blew us away. It also became a valuable vehicle for descriptive feedback from teachers and follow-up responses from students. This tied to our school focus on communication of thinking.

Twitter Blog - Adam

When and why did you start using Twitter professionally?

I started using Twitter for professional practice about a year ago upon recommendation from my tech coach. It opened a whole world of creative tips, tricks and notifications of important updates in the programs I use. The abbreviated format of Twitter really forces everyone who uses it to get right to the point so the updates are quick and focused. It opens up doors to dig into later.

What do you typically tweet about?

I don’t tweet a lot myself, yet. As I feel relatively new to the educational side of its use, I wanted to give myself some time taking my ideas and using them in the classroom to get some real world experience before sharing them with the world. That being said if I see a handy update, great idea or a colleague share something, I’m lightning with a like or a retweet.

Twitter has given me a chance to focus my attention on what is important to me. The people and programs I resonate most with are a click away.

What impact has using Twitter professional had on your practice?

The world of education is so broad and wide ranging. There’s a million ideas, initiatives, programs, directions one can go and now we have opened a new set of doors with the addition of technology in every classroom. Twitter has given me a chance to focus my attention on what is important to me. The people and programs I resonate most with are a click away. I get information constantly in a short, bite sized piece, but then there’s a new idea that gets your creativity flowing and suddenly you’re down a new path to explore.

Can you recall one particularly impactful moment you had as a connected educator on Twitter?

Finding the Google Education feed has been excellent because each week they share updates and excellent tips on their suite of apps. I’ve found some excellent ideas through that and learned about some really critical updates that have made my teaching so much easier.

Anything else you’d like to say about your experience as a connected educator?

It’s a big world and there’s a lot out there but it’s platforms like Twitter that allow us to connect and share and to realize we are all in this together. We all want to make kids smarter, happier and more diverse, so having a way to share ideas that is quick, easy and efficient makes a big difference.


How do I get started with Twitter?

If the idea of using Twitter professionally is new to you, there are a lot of articles that explain how to get started. Here are a few resources to get you started:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s