Connecting Virtually

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I am not into a lot of social media.  In fact, I am one of very people few who are not on Facebook.  The reason?  My life isn’t that exciting, so I wouldn’t have much to post, and if I was on Facebook, my life would be even less exciting because I would be spending too much time looking at Facebook to see what others are doing.  I say this to introduce the fact that, even though I do not use a lot of social media, Twitter is a form of social media that I am totally on board with.

I am surprised by how much I’ve come to enjoy and rely on Twitter to connect with other teachers.  I follow many, many wonderful teachers I work with in State College Area School District.  When I am curious about what is happening elsewhere, I reach out to educators I’m following on Twitter.  People such as Kristin (@MathMinds), Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp), and The Two Writing Teachers (which is really more than just two teachers – @ClareandTammy, @Betsy_writes, @raisealithuman, @Tara_Smith5, and more) have taught me so much!  When I’ve tweeted or contacted them directly (DMed in Twitter lingo) with questions about teaching, curriculum, coaching, and/or professional development, everyone has been eager to share.  These are people whom I’ve never met face-to-face, but I feel like I know them based on their Twitter feed and blogs.  All of this has enriched my life personally and professionally.

A highlight for me this year was meeting someone whom I follow on Twitter, Heather Rader (@HeatherRader1).  Heather is a literacy coach from the Seattle, Washington area.  She was just as smart and charming in person as she seemed to be based on her tweets and her blog.  When I met her, I told her that I feel like I already know her from our many contacts on social media.  It was easy to begin a comfortable conversation with her because, even though, technically, we had just “met”, we had really met many months ago on Twitter.

Recently, our district had a K-12 professional development day.  Part of the learning included teachers tweeting about what they were learning throughout the day and attaching a hashtag that we’ve used in past Twitter chats (#insplearning #SCASD).  It was great to share and learn together through this simple, yet powerful social media tool.  When I went home that evening, I read through the many, many tweets from the day and continued the conversations and the learning.

One final Twitter story.  (Can you tell I’m a hooked?!)  Something pretty remarkable happened this week that showed me, not only the power of Twitter, but just how small our world has become.  When I checked my Twitter feed Thursday afternoon, I saw a tweet and a picture sent by Tanny McGregor (@TannyMcG), author of what is, in my opinion, one of THE BEST teacher resources ever – Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading.  Standing beside her was a teacher from Indianapolis, Indiana whom I had met over three years ago when we both arrived in Washington, D.C. for an award ceremony.  I did a double take.  I was like, “Hey! I know her! That’s Laura!  And she’s with Tanny McGregor!!  How cool is that!?!”  I replied and favorited the tweet that Tanny had initiated, and throughout the evening, she and I exchanged several more tweets as we marveled at the connection we had made.

What do I have to thank for the fun and remarkable moments AND the ongoing learning that I’ve mentioned?  Twitter!  Lots to learn and enjoy 140 characters at a time.  #powerfulPDtool

How do you use Twitter or any other social media tool for learning and sharing?

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