At a conference today, Rae Hughart talked about the power of social media. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this message, and I know it won’t be the last. Educator use of social media is a popular topic right now, and it tends to be pretty polarizing. Teachers are either completely on board, usually using multiple platforms, or they are staunchly opposed.
Whatever side you fall on, I can tell you one thing. Social media can change your life.
I say this with total confidence because Twitter completely changed mine.
When I created a teacher Twitter, at first I didn’t use it that much. I am a younger teacher, but Twitter wasn’t a ‘popular’ platform. A colleague encouraged me to sign up and join a chat, so I did. I would occasionally log in and post a few photos or an overview of what my students were doing. But for the most part, I didn’t invest a lot in it.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I decided to up my investment. I attended a local conference, and it seemed like everyone there was using hashtags, sharing handles, and creating connections. It was then that I really began to spend some time building my network, participating in Twitter chats, and connecting with other passionate educators.
Over the past few years, my practice has been pushed to new limits because of conversations on Twitter. I’ve gotten tons of valuable resources, heard new ideas that I’ve been able to try, and so much more. It’s a wealth of information. It’s full of value. It’s a great form of professional development.
While Twitter has changed my classroom immensely, the way it’s changed my life is even greater.
The beautiful thing about social media is the connection you make with other incredible people. Because of Twitter, I’ve been able to have one on one conversations with powerful practitioners and form friendships that provide me support and help make me better. As a professional and a person. I’ve been able to connect meaningfully with practitioners who share my passion, but also those who challenge my thinking and force me to confront my own shortcomings and mistakes.
I’ve also been able to connect with some popular authors, those who have written the favorite books of my students, and help my students connect with them, too. Last year, I had a student write a letter to Elly Swartz, telling her how much Elly’s books had changed her life. We couldn’t find a mailing address anywhere and we wanted to make sure we could send it physically, so I reached out via Twitter. We got the mailing address pretty quickly, and we were able to create a cool connection with a popular author!
In addition, I’ve been able to share my own reflections and resources out on social media. I’m able to, hopefully, help better the profession as a whole by sharing activities and lessons I teach that cultivate amazing learning for my students.
I have an authentic audience (thanks guys) that helps me reflect deeply and often through writing. My professional circle has grown immensely, and I can truly say that I am better for it. My classroom is better for it. My teaching is better for it.
Beyond even that, Twitter is the reason I was able to present at my first national conference in November. If I hadn’t participated in a chat, taken a leap of faith, and made a connection, I never would have been there. I literally would not have had that opportunity.
And it was an incredible opportunity. I attended an immensely powerful conference where I was able to learn so much. Even though I went alone, I already knew people there. People I had already connected with, talked to, learned from… on Twitter.
When I say Twitter changed my life, this is what I mean. I’ve made friends, developed my practice, and been presented with incredible opportunities.