My journey with Twitter began in 2009 when I followed @scottbaseballl to find out practice times, which uniform needed to be clean and if game time had changed. When you have sons playing high school sports, they don’t always communicate the details in a timely manner. Twitter prevented many tense moments at the Laughlin Homestead during baseball season. I was in love with Twitter.
Once my boys graduated, I rarely used Twitter. I had enough social media to keep me busy. Facebook allowed me to keep in touch with friends from high school and college as well as to LOL at videos and pictures from my colleagues. Pinterest provided a plethora of recipes, ideas for my classroom and lists of books to read. But I noticed my sons used Twitter and they mostly followed athletes and #BBN. My youngest son, @JohnnyOnIt21, encouraged me to at least follow my alma mater @IndianaUniversity and @BigBangTheory because as he said, “Mom, you love IU and that show and that’s how Twitter works.” So, to try to stay on top of social media and to appease my son, I followed them and a few others, but I rarely checked my account. The way I saw it, I had no time for Twitter.
Flash forward a few years to the fall of 2016. Our principal presented the faculty with a challenge to tweet a selfie of a #LightbulbMoment that occurred in our classroom. A lightbulb moment provides teachers the opportunity to reflect on their practice and celebrate, no matter how big or small, what works in their classroom. I was uncomfortable, you could even say terrified at the thought of actually tweeting. In the seven years that I’d been on Twitter, I’d never posted anything let alone a selfie. In fact, my account was still private. Even though I was uncomfortable with the idea, in my heart I knew I had to post my lightbulb moment. Cautiously I posted my first #LightbulbMoment and someone I didn’t know liked my post and asked a question. What? Who was this stranger? Was I safe to respond? With trepidation, I responded and so began my true journey into world of Twitter. These #lightbulbmoments led me to reflection and learning about my practice as I shared with and learned from people who were basically complete strangers who shared a common passion for being the best possible teacher for our students. These moments allowed me to not only share my learning within my school but it also allowed me to become a leader outside the walls of my classroom and my school building. My PLN (or professional learning network- it’s a Twitter thing) began to grow. I began following people from all over, and they followed me. I was no longer in the silo a classroom can become. It was like the roofs and walls were gone and I could see the beauty of education in action in classrooms around the world. I was communicating, learning and collaborating with fellow educators who held my same core beliefs even though we had never met in person.
Now Twitter is my daily professional development stop. Whether I have 10 or 30 minutes, I find a tweet or two or three that helps me grow in my practice as an educator. Just today @mrkempnz tweeted about #differentiation-what it is and what it isn’t. This concise post with two graphics said what I’ve tried in the past to communicate but was never able to do so eloquently. Followed by that was a tweet from @DavidGeurin with an infographic about 25 reading strategies that work in every content area. Next @DavidGeurin retweeted from @weareteachers a link to the 10 things every teacher needs to know about childhood trauma. After reading each tweet, I either liked or sent the messages to myself so that I can reference them at a later date as needed. Now, thanks to Twitter’s Hack week, I can even bookmark those tweets by clicking on the share icon next to the ♥ and selecting add tweet to bookmarks. Presto, I have my own set of tweet bookmarks.
Twitter Chats were the next hurdle for me in the Twittersphere. There are Twitter Chats for everyone. Check out https://goo.gl/1uqQEv for a list of education related chats. Chats go quickly. You’ll feel pumped and exhausted by the conclusion of a chat. I lurked in the first few chats just to see how they work. In a Twitter Chat, you respond to questions posted by a moderator in a tweet that includes the #twitterchatname. Teachers from my school take turns moderating our school’s chat, #TMGeniusChat, 8PM EST on the last Thursday of each month. Chats are definitely an added benefit to Twitter. It’s like being in a professionally focused conversation with people from all over the country and even the world.
Through Twitter, I get to celebrate student and teacher accomplishments. I may have even had complete Twitter conversations with GIFs. I’ve posted more selfies than I care to admit- #TMGenius #SummerSelfieChallenge. I’ve found websites and videos to walk me through using Google Apps for Education. While at first I thought I had no time for Twitter, today I know I need Twitter to grow as an educator, to be #ComfortableBeingUncomfortable and to continue on the path of lifelong learning.
If you’re not on Twitter, I hope you join. When you do, follow me at @kim_laughlin. I’ll definitely follow you back!
Kim Laughlin, Leader, Assistant Principal, Taylor Mill Elementary