Last year, I went to hear Todd Whitaker speak at our local high school. Todd is an amazing and inspirational speaker. The kind that gets you fired up to go back to your classroom and your school and make a change. As he spoke, he told amazing personal stories and made amazing points… and then he said, “If you are a teacher who is not using Twitter, start using it.” I remember rolling my eyes. I remember a veteran colleague leaning over and saying to me, the tech savvy newbie, “Should I really figure out Twitter?” “No way,” I responded, “Twitter is for seeing what celebs had for lunch and I see no possible way it could benefit a teacher.” That was a year ago, and I am certainly eating my words.
Last month, I attended my first educational technology conference. Entering the building, there were signs everywhere with a hashtag for the event. Flatscreen TVs were scattered throughout the foyer, hallways, and meeting areas displaying the event’s Twitter-stream. Are you serious, I thought. It began to feel like one of those “well if you can’t beat them, join them” scenarios, so I flipped through the apps on my iPhone and opened up that one I never use – Twitter.
I typed in the event hashtag to check out the hype. I expected to find maybe one or two tweets from the event’s coordinators, but instead I noticed that tweets were continuously rolling in from attendees. They were discussing their thoughts, philosophies, interests, triumphs, and concerns. They were collaborating. All of these strangers bound together by a common hashtag and interest in educational technology. I was both dumbfounded and instantly hooked. It was a lightbulb moment. Finally, I was able to say Ah-ha! I get it, I get what Todd was talking about a year ago.
I have been a solid Twitter user for a month now and I feel as though I have made a year’s worth of growth as an educator in that time. I have been able to discover amazing instructional ideas, connect with some profoundly talented educators, and team up with an army of people dedicated to improving education. In my five years of teaching, nothing has ever provided me with such an intense drive to better myself professionally than Twitter has. So today I say to you those same words Todd Whitaker said to me a year ago — If you are a teacher who is not using Twitter, start using it.