When I was a teacher, one of the best professional development assignments I ever received was to observe three of my colleagues in their classrooms. At first I thought, “I don’t have time for this—I have papers to grade and lessons to plan.” But it was worth it. I learned so much from watching other teaching styles and listening to other perspectives.
As valuable as that activity was, though, it’s not the most practical for time-crunched teachers, at least not on a regular basis. But social media—Twitter, in particular—can create a similar experience in a way that’s more convenient. That’s right, Twitter. It’s one of the most valuable tech-based professional learning tools out there, and you should encourage your teachers to use it as one. Here’s why:
- Twitter is packed with experts. These experts are tweeting about everything from education philosophy to subjects like blended learning, tech integration tools and many other new ideas for teaching content. It’s a ready-made professional learning network. The academics, inspirational speakers, and authors your faculty and staff pay to listen to at conferences and seminars are on Twitter, and most of them are tweeting and retweeting on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Teachers can follow their favorites, and you might avoid some costly conference expenses.
- It’s easy to find content on Twitter. Hashtags let teachers cut through billions of tweets right to content that’s important to them. Organized chat sessions also are marked with hashtags. Through these conversations, educators can develop their professional knowledge base and expand their network of innovative colleagues.
- Twitter gives teachers a voice. Not only does Twitter provide inspiration, resources and idea sharing, it gives teachers a place to be heard. It can be rewarding for them to tweet their classroom successes and watch fellow educators respond quickly with likes and comments. That validation and praise can sometimes be the fuel they need to create an even better lesson tomorrow.
The more your teachers are connecting with professionals who share their values, expertise, challenges, and interests, the more engaged and motivated they’ll be—which means more engagement and motivation for students. Let Twitter be their connector.
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