I strongly believe if we expect to grow innovative classrooms, we need to fundamentally change our perspective on PD structures. First, I don’t see PD as a one day ‘event’ where teachers only learn from others between the hours if 8-4 with an hour off for lunch. What if our focus was to model “Lead Learning” for teachers and provide transformative learning experiences for adults. There is a lot of theory in teaching, and I think educators appreciate seeing what ‘transformation’ looks like as a learner with time to reflect on how it can be done in the classroom.
As I challenge myself to think beyond this box, it makes me consider one of the most popular sources for professional learning – Twitter.
I like Twitter for a lot of reasons:
- 140 characters works with my life as it requires people to summarize their ideas for a quick scan.
- I get to determine when I click to learn more.
- The best stuff comes around more than once. Trust me on this.
- I can follow people and hashtags to know what is trending right now, instead of waiting for a book to publish. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good book that I can mark-up, sticky note, tag, and learn from amazing people. I just love the ‘spoilers’ that share the information right now for FREE.
The truth of the matter is that Twitter can feel somewhat like drinking water from a fire hydrant and for first time users, this can be a roadblock. Over the summer, I offered an online Connected Educator class for staff as a way to learn about Twitter in their own space, at their own time, focusing on moving from their Point A to their Point B. We have received tons of great feedback on this class and yet I wonder why the conversations are not always lively on the class hashtag for all participants. I also note that some do not seem to be engaging in other online Twitter discussions.
It makes me reflect on when I started engaging in Twitter chats and how it felt as a new user. Chats move fast, I mean REALLY fast and at first I found it difficult to keep up. I found myself wanting to ponder a question and really think about what I wanted to share before hitting “Tweet” but by the time I was ready to commit, it was on to Q3 and I couldn’t remember if my point was A1 or A2! I was hesitant to throw something out there without proofreading it five times and then felt like I was missing out on the conversation as it rolled by at warp speed. To top it off, I also wasn’t sure if I wanted to reply to someone or should I just send it out to the crowd hashtag.
So, I get it… all of this happens simultaneously and can be a sticking point for new and existing Twitter users. So I think I have half a good idea, and I’m hoping that someone out there has the other half! In fact, I’m going to call out my good friends Kyle Pace and Laura Gilchrist and challenge them to partner with me to develop a way to help new and veteran Twitter users in each of our districts engage in an upcoming hashtag conversation.
- We knew of an upcoming Twitter conversation topic about a month before it happens.
- We gather a group of interested educators in a topic study to commit to collaborating and then being an active participant in the upcoming Twitter conversation.
- Through the course of the month, we could be researching and discussing as a group (building or district) and laying a foundation for building our collective background knowledge.
- When the Twitter conversation occurs, we have educators who are able to really challenge the conversation by sharing some of their learning from the study.
- We develop more active contributors to important online discussions.
I don’t know, maybe it is only a quarter of a good idea, but it stands to reason that some educators might shy away from Twitter conversations because they aren’t sure what they want to contribute. I say let’s build in a support mechanism and help teachers practice these types of conversations to build confidence in sharing their ideas with the world. For some, this may never be an issue, but what if this type of modeling support could be the key to unlocking the power of Twitter. The opportunities are endless. It makes me also consider:
What if … educators received PD credit for this type of sustained deeper learning.
What if … teachers modeled this type of learning for students in their classrooms. How much further would we be toward building positive digital footprints and helping students understand the real power of social media?
What if … you add your thoughts mine and we came up with a great idea?