PD with urgency: Engage in Twitter chats [3]


The Conversation

Rich Evans, HR director at BBHCSD, stopped in my computer lab this morning before I took off to teach a class about Google Docs.  As he walked in he said.

Rich:  Do you ever sleep?

Me:  Sometimes.

Rich:  No, I’m serious.  Do you ever sleep?

Me:  I try to.  Why?

Rich:  Because I follow you on Twitter and you are always posting something.

Me:  I try to do that a lot because it is the best PD experience I have.  I get to connect with many people in a short amount of time and I get really great ideas.

Best PD Experience

Good PD experiences are hard to come by and great ones are nearly non-existent.  The BEST PD experience I have to date are the chats I engage in on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Tuesdays #edchat has put me in contact with people around the world exchanging ideas about topic for the evening.  One of the best things about #edchat is that my thinking is pushed and pushed hard. Not only do I see how other people are thinking, but my ideas are challenged causing me to defend what I believe. This may sound confrontational but I find it stimulating to think in new ways.  These new ways of thinking do not just creep into my teaching, the blast their way in because as soon as I think and engage in the conversation, I immediately reflect on my practice.  As a 21st Century Skill, reflecting allows me to make accurate and valid decisions for myself about my own teaching causing reform.  What is better is the shift, or transformation, that takes place within me that shapes my teacher reasoning, perception, problem solving, and decision making.  Participating in #edchat gives me a PD experience that cannot have with real people in the profession.

Another chat I having just started participating in is #techcoach specific to technology integration specialists or others interested in this.  I have the same experience in this chat as I do the other – my teaching is improved with the people I interact with.

Why should Twitter be an urgent PD experience for you?  Answer these questions for yourself.  How many times during a year do you get the chance to get out and have quality PD?  Of the experiences you have had, how many have been great?  When do you get a chance to really talk about education?  How often are your own teaching practices changed as a result of PD?

How has your teaching practice changed as a result of Twitter?


PD with urgency [2]

Part [1] Recap

In part 1 of this series, I shared my struggles with getting started creating my own personal PD and the difficulty I was having.  In this post, I continue the expedition and share the tools I used to create my own PD experience.

Part [2]

Boy was I excited when new people followed me after I tweeted some things out. I would watch my Twitter count go up and when it didn’t, I felt like a failure. Was I really failing? No. Did I know that? Yes. Why did I feel that way? Because I wanted to be good at it. I came to notice a trend in the tweeps and the hashtags I would follow. Rather than have a conversation, as Twitter says, “Keep the conversation going.”, many folks just pumped out massive amounts of links to sites and blogs. That irritated me. Why? Because I wanted to talk to people and not just see a bunch of resources. I came to understand, after reading some blogs, that educational tweeting wasn’t about the conversation so much as it is about the resources for people to find and use as they teach. Admittedly, I was still irritated that I couldn’t get a conversation going. At the same time, I was contemplating starting a blog.  Am I a glutton for punishment or what?

Starting a blog was painful for me. I am very particular about how things look so I searched for the right looking blog format. I am a minimalist at heart and ended up using this format. As I searched,  I thought about what the blog should be called. I wanted it to represent who I am and what I am thinking about in my role as a teacher, thinker, tech/teacher coach, constructivist, and person. This, again, was painful as I agonized over what to title the blog. Eventually, after many \ideas, I settled on reformed, the title of this blog, because it was who I am. I am reformed in my thinking, teaching, pedagogy, coaching and view of education in light of how quickly technology is changing it. I took the plunge as a blogger and now have two. This blog and my school blog titled Sync Tech. It took until now to actually get comfortable with Twitter and blogging. To blog and tweet, I needed a source of information to get ideas and stay relevant.

I determined that I had to have a way of getting information so I could keep up with the quickly evolving education arena. I had Google Reader but wanted something with more savvy. I searched for RSS feed aggregators and finally settled on Feedly and began feeding it RSS feeds of blogs and sites. Not only did I want information, and was hungry for it, but wanted a way to save everything I was finding. In comes Evernote Webclipper and the whole concept of curating.

Curating is essential to a life online and learning. If you cannot curate, you will drown in the sea of information that flows through all of social media. Using Feedly was one way to curate, and using Evernote Webclipper and Diigo was another. The key concept behind curating is determining what is essential to keep and what to discard. Moving through sites and blogs forced me to really think about what was important for me to learn. As I dove into this endeavor with Twitter and blogging, I curated information, using Feedly, that would me learn and help the teachers I coach.

I chose jump in with both feet first because I knew I was behind and I had to catch up. My urgency was being relevant as a teacher with a strong pedagogy, vision and technologist so I could be an asset. My urgency drove me like herding cats to wrangle the different streams and directions education is heading with my rope being my will and mind to pull it all together…I was feeling guilty I wasn’t up on the latest.

I still struggle to keep up with the fast pace of education. How do you keep up?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdm/84202849/”>darkmatter</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

PD with urgency [1 – feeling frustrated]

How do you know what you don’t know and then create a PD experience for yourself?

This was me about 6 months ago.  I have had a Twitter account since 2008 but never really used it until recently.  Why? Because I wasn’t all that interested in tweeting out stuff I am doing. It just didn’t make sense to me because I thought who really cared about what I had to say about what I was doing. I followed a few folks that I knew but wasn’t really engaged. I wasn’t engaged because it wasn’t really stimulating conversation. So, I let it go.

I admit that I thought a lot about Tweeting, blogging, websites, Skyping, and more for the past four years but I always had something else better to do. I was really good at technology – sorry, had to say it – and the folks I worked with always had questions to ask and sought my opinion. What held me back? Me. Plain and simple. I found too many barriers to keep me from getting outside the classroom and into the social media and networking sphere.

Conversations always seem to draw thoughts out of me into the blog. Last Friday I had a conversation with John Schinker, technology director for the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Schools, about the use of Twitter and how it has transformed my thinking and professional development. We both admitted that we weren’t really big Tweeps since Twitter started up largely because of the notion of what it really meant to tweet.

The very first concept I had to deal with was how I was going to get up to speed with what is happening in education as the fast pace of Twitter, blogs, and ideas were running rampant.  Who do I follow? How do I keep up? Should or should I not blog? Why blog because there are so many out there blogging already? Do I need a website and a blog? What are the big trends in education, and how do I get to know them? These were the questions giving me an upper cut to the brain and it was mind boggling.

How did I get to the point where I am at now?

It was FRUSTRATING and IRRITATING! I had decided to jump into, two feet by the way, the stream of Twitter feeling like a little kid who had just moved into a new school with no friends, no direction, and no goals. I recall feel overwhelmed yet mesmerized by the amount of information flowing through the education hashtags. As I began, I was hesitant to say anything for I didn’t want to sound like a complete tool in Twitter, so I just
followed some people and saw what they were doing. That was probably one of the best things I could have done but didn’t know it at the time. So, after following and seeing what it was all about, I typed out a tweet I felt was important but hit send too soon because I didn’t spell some words right and it didn’t make sense. Twitter jitters got the best of me. I was mad at myself at first because I wanted to make a good impression but then thought, “Who the heck even knows I am here?” I pressed on for months feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by the fact that I was having so much trouble learning how to be a good Twitter’er.

Have patience, you are just getting started and no one knows who you are here but they will eventually – I told myself this repeatedly.

Have, or do you feel the same way I did when you got started?