Building a Professional Learning Network (PLN)
As you teach, you change how you think about education over time. In addition, your needs shift. Some weeks you might be considering restructuring your classroom and other weeks you are looking for extensions for unit four of your current math program. This is where Twitter’s social networking for teachers comes in handy.
Perhaps you learn about a Twitter chat happening for English teachers. You join #EngChat on Wednesday evening, and after following the rapid-fire conversation, you decide to follow some of the teachers in the chat. The following week, perhaps you need information about how to find a biographical picture book about Albert Einstein. You send a quick tweet to some of the people you followed the week before. Within a few hours, you receive several suggestions, including the new book On a Beam of Light, which is exactly what you needed. This expands your resource reach by thousands.
Twitter Expands Your Network
When teachers develop units and work through them with students, challenges always arise. Using Twitter to help troubleshoot these challenges is a form of professional development for teachers. Instead of struggling to find answers yourself or waiting until a coworker can help, you can see if someone has already solved the same problem. Teachers can learn about things like changing laws, new programs in other districts, and managing parents who are nervous about technology.
Twitter frees teachers from professional isolation. Often, online contacts become friends who can share information and connect distant classrooms. This global learning experience can create a diverse learning situation.
Twitter is a very personal experience; you get from it what you put into it. To learn how social networking for teachers works, get a Twitter username, follow people who seem interesting to you, and join some Twitter chats. Some great chats for educators include the following:
Find out when an interesting chat meets and use a tool like Tweetdeck, Tweetchat, or Twubs to follow that chat. On a mobile device, you may find an app like Hootsuite to be helpful. The more you show up to a Twitter chat, the more relationships you build. This kind of online community can make the difference between an average teaching year and an amazing one.
Learn more about the Lamar University M.Ed. in Educational Technology Leadership online program.