Monday, March 4, 2013

Professional Connections and the Power of Twitter

Most educators are not aware of the power of Twitter.  If you're a regular Twitter user, more than likely this statement doesn't apply to you.  It's not a criticism, it's simply an unfortunate fact.  I was introduced to Twitter a few years ago.  My sister was an active Twitter user and had been using Twitter with great results as a published author.  I was intrigued by the prospect of using Twitter but I had no clue how to go about it.  I opened a Twitter account which, I have to say, was the easy part.  My next reaction was, "What now?"  That was the hard part.  I couldn't seem to figure out what to tweet and how to use Twitter with a purpose.  What could I share that others would be interested in knowing?

Back to the drawing board!  I ran back to my sister complaining, "I just don't Get It!"  Her response was, "You have to find your niche."  I remember thinking, "Now we're getting somewhere."  I'm a teacher, so my niche is obviously education.  There must be a way to use Twitter for educational purposes.  I set out to do what teachers tend to do without even thinking much about.  I did a bit (actually a lot) of research. I started reading everything I could find on Twitter in education.  I found myself at the Simple K12 Teacher Learner Community website.  I did a lot of reading there.  That reading led me to more websites, more reading, and educators who were already using Twitter.  Somewhere on my journey I found out about the importance of building a PLN or Personal Learning Network.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Three years later I'm a member of an invaluable learning community of educators on Twitter.  This journey has transformed my teaching in ways that I never would have imagined.  I have made connections with educators from all over the United States and from around the world.  My Personal Learning Network is made up of a group of brilliant educators who share resources, discuss ideas, push my thinking, offer support, answer questions, make suggestions, and share learning and insights.  They are like minded individuals who enjoy learning new things, acknowledge when they don't know something (and feel safe to do so), and want to continue to grow as professionals.  Great teachers never stop learning and growing and the educators that I've made connections with on Twitter exemplify that mantra.

Recently, I've had the opportunity to share the "Power of Twitter" with colleagues.  My principal asked me if I would share how Twitter could be used for professional development.  I was more than happy to do so.  When you find a great resource, tool, etc. it's natural to want to share it with others.  As I suspected, Twitter is a well kept secret because many educators are unaware of how it can be used in education.  Afterwards, a few of my colleagues told me they had no idea how useful it could be to their teaching or to themselves professionally.  I think a few still find it a bit mysterious, some may feel they simply don't have the time, but others have already taken the plunge and/or dipped their toes into the water. They are finding out it's a bit cool but the more they dip their toes and feet in, the warmer the water feels.

Here are the Twitter Tips and Twitter Lingo that I shared with my colleagues.  I have also compiled a few websites where you can do a bit of research of your own.  I hope others will decide to jump in.  The water is not half's actually quite exhilarating!

Twitter for Professional Development
Teachers Teaching Teachers, on Twitter: Q and A on 'Edchats'
Why Educators Should Join Twitter
60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom
Twitter Hashtags in the Classroom

How are you sharing the Power of Twitter with colleagues and/or friends?  Please share your stories in the comments below.

I would love to connect with you on Twitter.  You can connect with me using @valruckes on Twitter and through Twitter chats.  I co-host #1stchat on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. EST.

Note:  If you share the Twitter Tips and/or Twitter Lingo please give credit to this site.

Happy Tweeting!


  1. Val,
    Like you, I find Twitter to be the perfect place for professional learning and dialogue. I have such a diverse group of people I follow. I know in just the touch of a send button I can find help for a variety of educational topics. The connections I have made have helped me to grow as an educator. Participating in events and chats like #1stchat, #cyberPD, #slice2013, #nf10for10, #pb10for10, #edchat and so many more have been inspiring. I'm so glad we have connected on Twitter. I learn so much from you.

    This post could really help someone get started. I'm going to pass it along.


  2. Cathy,
    Thanks for the comment. I wrote this post because I have spoken to so many educators recently who are interested in using Twitter for professional learning but are not sure how to do it and don't have much time to do a lot of research to get started. The connections on Twitter are amazing. I would love to see more and more educators taking advantage of all it has to offer. Thanks for sharing this post with others and for your continued support.

    I learn tons from you, too and from so many other educators on Twitter. I am so appreciative of the connections I've made.


  3. Valerie, I'm adding this to my reading list for spring break. I follow a few people on Twitter, but I'm not sure how to use it. I always feel tongue tied when I'm following a conversation and it seems to go too fast for me to jump in. Hopefully, some of your links will help me understand this new tool. I remember you from last year's SOL, but somehow I haven't been able to read as many posts this year.