A Higher Chance of Becoming Great? The “Twitter” Factor

I walked into the room and I could tell right away.

This was a teacher I had never met and knew very little about, but the atmosphere in his classroom was great.  As I walked with my colleague, I asked her the question, “Do you think he is on Twitter?”  I wanted her to make an educated guess, and her thoughts were the same as mine; definitely.

How did we know this?

As I walked in, I saw unique seating spaces, posters all over the wall that focused on “taking risks” and encouraging students to think different.  The walls were also covered in information about “Genius Hour” and their recent “Maker Faire”.  At the time, the students were also learning how to play chess with a master player, who also happened to be a grandparent. Notice that there was no technology mentioned above, but just about a different learning environment.  There were multiple, amazing opportunities for learning in this classroom to reach students where they were at, and tap into their strengths and passions.

So when we asked the teacher if they were on Twitter, he mentioned that he was but he didn’t necessarily share that much online.  But it was his access to information that made things look differently in his classroom.  When I asked if he had seen an impact in his classroom from the use of Twitter, he wasn’t sure, but it was a type of “boiling frog” scenario.  The change could have happened so gradually that he did not notice the small steps that could have been made to where he was now.  Just being a “lurker” in that space though, had made a difference.

Now I am not saying that if you are NOT on Twitter, you are ineffective.  There might be several classrooms that look like the one I have briefly described that were designed by a teacher who may not be on Twitter, that receive their information elsewhere.  What I do know is that looked NOTHING like my classroom when I first started teaching, because honestly, I did not have the access to the same information that teachers do now.  Our opportunities have changed and people have taken advantage to benefit themselves, and more importantly, their students.

Isolation is now a choice educators make.  We have access to not only information, but each other. We need to tap into that.

Being on Twitter doesn’t make you a great teacher any more than not being on Twitter makes you ineffective.  There are a lot of great teachers who do some pretty amazing things that do not connect online.

However, I do believe that having that access 24/7 to great ideas through the medium and the connection to other teachers increases your chances on being great.  If you really think about it,  how could it not?

3 Comments

  1. Hello,
    My name is Sarah Sanders and I am EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. I am studying Elementary Education. I relate to the educator mentioned in this post. I am not as technologically obsessed as many people in my age group. However, I do get on and pull great research and information! I believe it is what you do with that information and time on the technology as opposed to how much time you spend on it. Educators virtually have no excuse not to incorporate something into their learning process because they have the internet, Pinterest, and Youtube to explain to them how to do it! I am recently experiencing the benefits of Twitter as a a future educator and hope to further my study in it to benefit my classroom. Thank you for your time and this post.

    April 12, 2015
  2. Rob Voigt said:

    Twitter is a transformative tool for teachers.
    Now, I don’t know that I could ever assume the title, “Great” teacher… but I definitely know that I am “greater than” I was before Twitter!
    Twitter has broken down the wall for me. Always a bit of an educational maverick in my school circles, I had constructed a wall to deflect criticism and disbelief I saw from other colleagues over my practice. Not that I was doing anything so great, but just different. Whether it was student voice or choice, planting grasses on the playground to test scientific method, or sponsoring a lunch time “artist cafe”, I just liked doing things which my students enjoyed. I got accustomed to expecting that I would be the one out on a limb… with my colleagues watching from the ground.
    After 30 years, Twitter changed all that. It opened up doors to a host of teachers that looked a lot like me. (And many that didn’t, and that’s refreshing too…) All of a sudden I saw many teachers who were out on limbs– climbing and bouncing and swinging! Twitter gave me access to like-minded teachers, a PLN (Personal Learning Network), to bounce ideas off of, to offer suggestions to support my practice, to listen to my edu-adventures.
    Most of my PLN is far flung, from the US to Australia to the Philippines. But to my surprise, I found some of my own district staff on Twitter too! We have occasional Meet-ups right especially to teach and encourage other staff members to use Twitter.
    Another regular outcome of Twitter use is the Edcamp experience, a wonderfully democratic “unconference” where attendees set the agenda and learn what they like. Edcamps are rife with learning and instructional possibilities that leave me twittering for days! And, of course, the personal connections made are the best.
    Although I have been active only a year, with Twitter I have learned more and made more professional progress than with the previous decade of school PD! And none of this is lost on my students. I love to hear them rev up: “Oh, oh… Mr. Voigt is on his Twitter account. What are we gonna be doing now?”

    April 13, 2015
  3. Hello George.
    I appreciate your perspective on the topic of connected educators and socially networked learning. My experience parallels what Rob Voigt describes in his comments. Rob and I have never met in person, but we are in frequent contact through Twitter. I have learned so much from him.
    In my opinion, the teacher in your scenario may be very effective in the classroom, but he can also take additional steps towards “greatness” by sharing his experiences transparently through social media. It is this reciprocal sharing that makes tools such as Twitter so powerful. Sharing is the life-blood of PLNs.
    As you know, learning and education do not stop at the classroom door. By sharing his effective classroom practices, the teacher in your example “runs the risk” of contributing to the learning of other educators. How “great” would that be? Thank you for providing this forum to learn and share. Bob

    April 14, 2015

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