January 27, 2008. That was the day, over four years ago, that I created my current Twitter account (@azjd). It was an ugly beginning – tweeting about meaningless events/observations to an audience of none. It wasn’t long before I was on hiatus from Twitter…convinced it offered little of value.
Now, several years (and thousands of tweets) later, my opinion has changed. Twitter has become a professional development staple – a source of ideas, conversation, challenge, and inspiration. Very few days go by that I am not scanning my Twitter stream, interacting with others, sharing links or making note of resources to read or send to others. Yet, I still encounter many administrators (and educators) who are reluctant to dive into Twitter, seeing it as a potential time sink. Here are several reasons why I think administrators should have a Twitter presence.
- It has been said that teaching is a lonely profession. I hope we are moving away from this idea, but the same could certainly be said of school administration. As a new principal, I have had more than my share of challenges, and sometimes I feel like a man on an island. While it does not replace face-to-face conversations with other administrators, Twitter is a valuable avenue for developing connections with administrators from around the world. The varied perspectives, and opinions, is phenomenal and I often find that my Twitter conversations provide a “spark” for change in my approach.
- Staying connected with what is happening in the classroom is an absolutely essential task of successful school leaders. In order to successfully assume the role of “instructional leader,” administrators must be knowledgeable about current practice. Twitter provides timely, and relevant, conversation related to classroom teaching trends. I am constantly amazed by the level of creativity, innovation and collaboration demonstrated by educators on Twitter. It is such a fantastic source of ideas that I am able to share with my staff. Not to take away from books/publications (I read those too), but the profession is so dynamic, that we can’t always afford to wait for a book.
- Not only should school administrators be up to speed on current classroom trends, they should work diligently to ensure that their staff members have access to this information and opportunities to explore new ideas and connect with others who are implementing. In a time of budget restrictions, Twitter provides a viable professional development opportunity – one that should be modeled by school administrators. My experience has been that educators are intrigued by Twitter, and related technology tools, but often need a bit of encouragement to get going. As leaders on our campus, we have a responsibility to encourage exploration and innovation. Twitter is a potential means to that end.
- When others read my blog, or see my activity on Twitter, they frequently ask…”How do you have time?” When I get this question, I do consider whether I spend too much time on Twitter, but I have come to a realization. Twitter has become embedded in my professional development practice (something that I see as an administrative responsibility). Because of numerous apps, for almost every imaginable device, Twitter is a ubiquitous tool. I can access my Twitter stream from my office, my driveway, while waiting for a meeting, in a classroom, at a ballgame – well, you get the point. I am not on Twitter all of the time (and I don’t want to be), but accessibility allows me to fit it in, when it is convenient.
- Twitter can be customized to create individualized professional learning opportunities. Twitter hashtags (#) allow users to select an intended audience, or filter information based upon specific interests. Want an overview of the education world? Check out #edchat. Want to know what other school administrators are talking about? Follow #cpchat. Curious about how technology is being applied in education? Check out #edtech.
A quick Google search will help you identify tools and resources for getting started on Twitter. For those of you just beginning, I would recommend visiting Jerry Blumengarten’s (@cybraryman1) Twitter Page.
If you are looking for a few school administrators to follow, I would recommend that you peruse the Connected Principals web site. There is a vast array of experience, talent and interests represented on this blog. It is a great place to begin building your professional learning network.
Let me know if I can be of assistance. In the meantime, tweet on!