Saturday, 22 August 2015

Why I love Twitter...

The title is all cheese but I'm incredibly sincere when I say it.

I think I've mentioned this transition before but think it's worthy again of mentioning.

Was just having a conversation with a colleague, from another school, another region, same subject.. about Twitter and people's reactions towards it.

It doesn't shock me now when I hear someone moan and say how much they hate Twitter or how they just don't "do" social media. It used to shock me. But I think that's mainly because of my naivety as well as my complete love for all things social and most things media.

What shocks me now is that I hear people say they hate PLD or professional development.

Mostly because I have been completely blessed over the last three years to find my real niche in learning and development. Interestingly enough it came from both being social and connecting with others through varying degrees of media.

Yes we've all had that shocking PLD that leaves out most of the learning and feels more like home d than anything else.

But as I've said before - if you are feeling lost in the crowd, isolated, burnt out or just merely apathetic - surely there is an alternative to the usual PLD sessions that are run through schools or ones that you're sent to and forced to sit through.

There is. And it's Twitter.

Like I said not everyone likes the idea of Twitter - but the thing about it is the fact that you can tailor make your own PLD about areas in which you personally are interested in. More importantly - it's a fantastic opportunity to network with others and a chance to create that positive digital footprint that we should be modelling to our students.

When I was doing my GradDipT at Waikato Uni - I was told by a tech teacher about how awesome Twitter was. I couldn't get it. Refused to because of the constrictions of the characters. Quite plainly - I'm glad I hated it back then because otherwise my account would have been full of obscene tweets about next to nothing with overt exclamation marks and capitalised words.

It wasn't until I was into my fifth or so month of teaching full time when I turned to Aunty Google and started searching for somewhere that I could gain support and ideas from about teaching. Lo and behold - one of the first links that popped up was #edchat as well as #nt2twitter created by Lisa Dabbs.

I soaked up these tweets and created an account. I tried my hardest to join into these chats but they were in the American timezone and I just couldn't participate as well as I would have liked. I asked for and gained a mentor but it just wasn't as effective as I needed at the time. About then I think I was dealing with my first highly difficult class and learning coping strategies and quickly building behaviour management techniques and philosophies from my experiences. At the time I needed all the love and support I could muster.

Somehow I made it through and although those Twitter chats were a mere blip on the radar now - I truly am glad I found them.

Fastforward a couple of years to last year at Issues and Organising - a PPTA run conference - where I had the pleasure of sitting in on Steve Mouldey's presentation about Hobsonville School and his experiences. What caught me though was the frequency in which he was discussing Twitter. Something I was still debating around the use and efficiency of.

About then is when I got full blown caught up in the turbulent winds of the revolution of the education and PLD movement in NZ.

Finally I had found my people. Those who LOVED learning and enjoyed sharing their experiences and thoughts. Those who were willing to step outside of their comfort zones and try something new. Those who supported and needed support too. True ako in action.

Fast forward to now and well - I've recently hit the 20k tweet mark. My students ask me what I tweet about and I say that I tweet about them and what I'm learning. Most of the time I'm learning from others and soaking up ideas and ferreting them away for a time when I can pull them back out and use them. I favourite and retweet colleagues posts and develop new initiatives with new friends.

I've presented over Google Hangout a couple of times now and shared more than I can actually count. I've learnt from the best and continue to do so. I've participated in an amazing amount of Twitter chats from the likes of Danielle Myburgh's #edchatnz, Matty Nicoll and ibpossums #SciChatNZ as well as created our own little #EngChatNZ chat for NZ English teachers.

I've been sent to Brisbane for a conference on New Educators and hope to travel again soon to another big conference in the States. I'm presenting at this year's ULearn with Nathaniel Louwrens on Blogging for Beginners after my undoubtedly brave yet triumphant moment as the orphan of ULearn last year when my Twitter colleagues donated to my (2338) PledgeMe account to get me there!

I've presented at countless smackdowns around the country for different Educamps and loved each moment. I've been luckily given the opportunity to volunteer for Class Dojo as one of the Community Leads for our country and have learnt so so much from the other CD educators in NZ and around the world.

I've taken part in a tonne of different blogging challenges and learnt heaps from educators everywhere. I'm currently working with Nathaniel and Sonya Van Schaijik with developing #edblognz where eductors blogs are curated via RSS feeds in one stunning place.

I'm still developing my writing voice and think that it will continue getting better over time. The best part about it though is seeing my transformation and evolution as a teacher.

I blog... a lot. I tweet... a lot more. And to be honest - I get back what I put in.

There are moments when you just need time alone with your own thoughts of course and that balance is still something I'm learning (oh to have a work/life balance...) but it's just so fabulous being able to get inspiration and perspective at the opening of an app like Twitter.

I have big hopes and dreams and I'm lucky to have such a supportive PLN (professional learning network) that support and value me and my ideas.

I'm hoping to go to ISTE in Denver next year and if I save enough I'll be able to do it.

After my experiences with breaking into this beautiful social and media filled world - I really don't think I can go back to having my head in the ground and not knowing what's going on in education and the world. I'm so so lucky that I have found the area in which I can not only give back but can develop and grow as an educator too because of the wealth of support I have from those not only in my own school staffroom but that of our global Twitter staffroom.

So if you've read this far and know someone who isn't on Twitter (yet!) please pass this post on to them. They don't have to like Twitter - they don't even have to use it 'properly' to get something out of it. They just need to open their minds up to what's going on in education and try to be aware of how they too can contribute and learn from others too.

If you or they need help I've got a few resources - one that I'd still like to redo as I'm constantly evolving it. I'd like to keep it at 2 pages but there is just a lot of info that people ask for and need help with so we'll see how that goes. For now - here's the latest resources I have:

https://drive.google.com/a/whhs.school.nz/file/d/0B4H1mQcM7JEHenNycS1SRDFFSFk/view?usp=docslist_api

https://docs.google.com/a/whhs.school.nz/presentation/d/1uTpcEroFZ2YSA8ZM672Nog48Bb0K4EK6RcnzJjwY-qg/edit?usp=docslist_api

:)