Donelle Batty in her blog My Thoughts, wrote a post called, Opportunity … do you take it? (http://linkis.com/dbatty.wordpress.com/85VGa) Donelle has challenged her student teachers to become connected educators. They have a Twitter Mission to complete in just four weeks. Part of their task entails creating a Twitter account which takes into consideration their professional identity. They must also set up a blog which fits with their professional context, observe twitter chats, follow five educators and then blog about their experiences according to her set criteria.
Donelle … where were you when I first began on Twitter in 2013? I jumped in feet first and put both feet in ‘it’ by committing several gaffes in the misty fog of Twitter protocol. It didn’t help that I had never used any form of social media before and was totally out of my depth! I was yelled at with capital letters, threatened to be blocked, probably muted and politely ignored. Someone even made a crack about grandmothers being allowed to use mobile phones – I know, right? So ageist! If only I had known how to search for things like the following tips from @carolinemlittle … Maybe I showed my human side, my fallibility, a little too much?
This being said, there are some very kind, patient and inspirational educators out there who have helped me along this precarious learning journey. I acknowledge the wonderful help from the first three teachers at my school to join Twitter – they called themselves, ‘The Edunerds’. (@MansourNatalie,@BecUrry1 & @TareenaEastwood) These fearless leaders encouraged me to take this momentous step. I was also shown the ropes by @johnqgoh and @tickytecky, who came out to our school for a teacher professional learning session to teach us a few basics of Twitter use. They are certainly not to blame for my ineptitude or lack of social graces. I just took a while to learn when and how to interact, and should have watched and learnt a little longer before taking my impulsive plunge.
So, apart from these worthwhile tutors, I am going to choose five educators that I chose to follow early on in the piece, and say why I continue to follow them now. In short, I am going to complete part 3 of the ninth quest in Donelle’s assignment – Find five educators to follow. Blog about why you have chosen these educators. What made these educators stand out to you? What have you gained from following them or looking at their Twitter account, did they include you in the conversation or acknowledge you etc … Yes fellow Tweeters, I am up for it! I am going to take the challenge!
One of the first people to catch my eye was @waginski, Lee Hewes. Back in 2013 he was working on (@tickytecky) Ashleigh Catanzariti’s class. As I had followed her since our training session I saw the conversations that they were having together. Lee was posting videos of the class reporting on what they had learnt about the needs of plants through their gardening efforts. He was also explaining what he was doing through his lesson notes. Through Lee and his wife, @BiancaH80 and their blogs about what they are doing with Project Based Learning and their showcasing of their students’ work, I have been inspired. I have been challenged to think of open ended questions to guide learning, to make learning more hands-on, relevant and meaningful and to incorporate technology into the process so that the students’ work has an audience larger than their immediate classroom. If you are curious about Lee’s work have a look at https://leehewes.wordpress.com/ Lee Hewes is totes becoming a teacher and see what I am talking about for yourself.
Other educators who came onto my Twitter radar early on, were @poppyshel, Michelle Hughes and @corisel, Corinne Campbell. This was through a username that was popping up regularly in conversations called, @EduTweetOz. On one Saturday, @EduTweetOz was pushing for a certain number of followers before a certain time, so I thought, “Why not?” and kept an eye on the conversation, dipping my toe in every now and then.
I enjoy following people’s learning journeys via Twitter and their blogs. Michelle, @poppyshel, has been allowing students to design their own flexible learning spaces in her classroom, pushing for learning to be more student directed and using various apps to present her students’ work. I love the honesty of Michelle’s blog, educationinoz.wordpress.com, where she reflects openly about education trends, challenges some accepted opinions and invites others to express their views. When @BecUrry1 and I attended our first TeachMeet in the Rocks, Michelle looked out for us and helped us to feel a little at home amongst a sea of strangers. She and one of her fellow @Edutweetoz co-moderators, Corinne Campbell, @corisel, are two very active and inclusive Tweeters in my Twitter feed.
Corinne, @corisel also collaborates with Cameron Malcher, @Captain_Typo, to produce and host Teachers Education Review podcast, @TERPodcast. Regular features include; AITSL’s Teacher Feature, teacher’s discussing digital resources, Cameron and Corinne discussing news stories in education as well as a Main Feature where someone of interest to educators is interviewed each time. I enjoy listening to Cameron and Corinne sharing their opinions and weighing up what they are saying against what I have read and experienced.
Corinne, @corisel, is a thoughtful, well-informed educator and by following her I am able to keep up with what is happening in the world of education. Her blog, About Teaching, (about teaching.net) is her mind’s journey through the many and varied aspects of education and social media that she is dwelling on and thinking through.
One of the first Twitter chats that I felt confident to participate in is #satchatoc. Whenever anyone introduces themselves they are acknowledged and welcomed. The moderators endeavour to ensure that everyone feels included. I also enjoy the international flavour of the chat as people tweet in from all-around the Pacific. The oc stands for Oceania and the chat has to be held at a time when all time zones are awake, whether they have just woken up or they are about to retire to bed. The guests are interesting and varied and the topics cover a gamut of educational areas.
Through #satchatoc I have come to follow Andrea Stringer, @stringer_andrea, who has the gift of encouraging people and bringing them together. Andrea’s tweets are quite varied and interesting and she sets a great example of how to use Twitter to engage others in conversation. Her blog, andreastringer.blogspot.com.au, is quite fun. At the bottom when you scroll down, there are three Twitter birds and a heading above it which says, Oh the people you meet, if only you’ll tweet! When you run your mouse over the birds,stars and buttons links pop up. These take you to people who have been guests on #satchatoc as well as ways to get the most out of twitter, information about Voxer and loads more! Go and have a look for yourself. Andrea’s posts are varied, entertaining and informative. If you want to know anything or need any help, she is happy to share what she knows or point you to someone who can also help.
On Saturday nights in 2013, Owen Ikin, @owenikin82, began #nolifetrivianite. It was fun to follow along. One of the funniest participants was Jason Borton, @Borto74. On following @Borto74, I became aware that he is the Principal of Richardson Primary School in Canberra, A.C.T. His blog, Educational Leadership, jbortonrps.edublogs.org, reveals his more serious side. He is most earnest about excellence in education. Jason has written some challenging and thought provoking posts on how we report to parents, rigorous assessment processes, class sizes and whether we need formal homework in primary schools. His posts are based on his own experiences and programs that he has instituted in the school that he leads. I like to follow his conversations on Twitter because his discussions are generally interesting.
Of course I follow many more people than these. Twitter has connected me to a wide range of educators with whom I exchange concerns, laughs and ideas. My learning curve has skyrocketed and my teaching has been reinvigorated by the wonderful people I have met from all over the globe. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, and if my students knew how much it was benefitting them I am sure that they would thank you as well.