My Personal Professional Development = Twitter!

Twitter has changed everything for me as an educator.  Instead of searching out professional development opportunities on my own or waiting for my school/district to provide trainings and inservice, I simply open up Twitter and let it all come to me.  I can honestly say that I grow a little bit each day (and sometimes a lot!) as an educator simply by scrolling through my Twitter feed.  The ability to connect with literally thousands of educators all across the world is simply amazing.  I have always felt that today’s teachers are so lucky to live in a time where information and resources are just just a click away.  In the same way Twitter has made it so easy to improve our craft by providing a platform where teachers can connect with one another to share ideas, resources, inspiration, and all sorts of information.

I must admit that I was skeptical at first and didn’t see the possibilities in Twitter.  However, the power of Twitter has transformed my view of social media and professional development.  I had never been on MySpace, Facebook or a part of any other social media outlet.  I was always warned as an educator to be careful with social media as it could get you into trouble.  No longer am I focused on the problems that can come from social media because the positives are too powerful and outweigh any issues that can come up.

For me it all started through the encouragement and leadership of my district’s amazing tech trainers (check them out on Twitter @catlett1 @jennykbps & @annfeldmann1). I took the leap a little over a year and half ago.  Since then I have dramatically improved as a teacher as a result of connecting with so many great educators.  Although at first I was only a consumer on Twitter, following others and taking in all the great information, I soon realized the importance and power of sharing.  I have heard fellow teachers say that the reason they don’t share is that they have nothing worth sharing, which is completely crazy!  If you are in this business and passionate about what you are doing you always will have great things to share out.  Whether it is an idea, a lesson plan, or a great resource, know that it can have an impact on others in a positive way.  And even if it doesn’t, no harm done!

Twitter is the ultimate professional development for educators because it provides differentiation.  You follow who you want, you access it when you want, and you click on the the information you want to learn more about!  It is for that reason that Twitter has become my ultimate personal professional development.  Far too often in-services and trainings are not effective for all who attend because they didn’t choose to be there or the topic being presented.  There is a time a place for teachers to hear the same message, just as it is for our students.  But it is also imperative that administrators provide professional development that is differentiated so that it provides teachers what they need and want to improve their teaching!  Twitter could be the tool that creates the ability to differentiate.  Teachers need to be encouraged to connect, because once they do, everything will change! Professional development will be taking place on a consistent basis, something all administrators would love to see happening.

Below I have provided some of my favorite people and #hashtags to follow.  I encourage teachers to use TweetDeck and have it open when working on their laptop or desktop (doesn’t work on smartphones or tablets).  I would also love to hear from you on what hashtags and people I along with others should be following.

Finally, the only problem with this post is that I am mainly reaching educators who are already connected.  So my question to you is this:  How do we get other teachers and administrators connected to all that Twitter provides educators?

My Most Followed #Hashtags
#nebedchat – Nebraska’s teachers sharing
#tlap – Teach Like a Pirate
#sstlap – Social Studies Teach Like a Pirate
#ipadacadamey – Bellevue Public Schools iPad Academy teachers sharing
#sschat – social studies teachers sharing information and resources

My Top Twitter Follows in Education that Have Impacted My Teaching
@BeshlossDC (great pics from history)