Sunday, 8 June 2014

So what's in it for YOU?

Why do YOU do that Twitter thing?

What are YOU hoping to gain from being involved in TeachMeets? 

How will 'YOU' benefit from all these connections you are making?

These are questions I’ve been asked recently. Let’s begin with that Twitter thing. Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read short 140-character text messages, called "tweets". I believe many educators are apprehensive to go into the unknown and don’t see the benefits. Some may say they have enough to do without adding to their teaching load. If they only knew…

I view Twitter as an amalgamation of various resources. It’s a library overflowing with information (both relevant and irrelevant) that includes a plethora of books and reviews, journal articles and blogs. You choose what is relevant. It is also a meeting place where like-minded educators chat about their day, students, lessons, ideas, frustrations and successes. I have found educators on Twitter are supportive, generous, knowledgeable, and at times, they challenge your thinking. I believe Twitter has the ability to support and assist every educator. You can make Twitter suit you and your needs. You may not feel comfortable tweeting and you may lurk for a while or maybe forever! Just remember you reap what you sow. You have something of value to share and collaboration is not a solo event.

Twitter has helped me meet many of my teaching standards.

1.1 Physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students
1.2 Understand how students learn
Recently I was fortunate my school sent me to Hawker-Brownlow in Melbourne and upon arrival learnt that we were going to present or write an article later. I began tweeting from the start and connected with an educator that I had been conversing with for months. As there were very few tweeting, I tweeted out how #ISTE and #PBL had given prizes or incentives to tweet. Next minute prizes were offered and my friend won that day. I won two days later and received $150 worth of educational texts. Not bad for sharing the presenters information and book recommendations. But what made me happier was receiving tweets and direct messages (DMs) from educators all around the globe thanking me for tweeting. You can't possibly attend every PD available. I learnt this week that this is the next best thing to attending, as I followed the EduTech hashtag. Being allowed only 140 characters forces your tweets to be succinct. After the four days of tweeting at Hawker-Brownlow, I did storify the tweets, which summarised all my information. 
It's the 21st Century way of note taking. By adding more educators to my Professional Learning Network (PLN) my support and knowledge develops.
1.3 Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds
1.4 Strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
2.4 Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
Edutweetoz has had various Aboriginal educators and educators who are teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas. You could read about this topic in books or you can tweet questions and learn about their experiences in real time. I have learnt more and developed a better understanding about Indigenous students from reading various tweeted questions and comments. When I implemented Design Thinking with my students, it was an educator from Twitter, Wes Heberlein that connected my students with his Aboriginal students in Rockhampton. This was an authentic connection. On #edutweetoz this year, the Indigenous moderators have been @liz_loveslife, @bensonsaulo, @peterradoll, @wesheberlein, @chrissarra, @jessa_rogersX, @chrisvella2, @nicburrows. Moderators that are working in Indigenous communities are @jarvis001 and @nicburrows
Authentic educators, authentic context, authentic time.
2.6 Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
4.5 Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically
Over a year ago, I was kindly asked to moderate a global education chat group every Saturday morning. #Satchatoc is an hour-long chat and focuses on an educational topic each week.  One of our guest moderators will be Eric Sheninger who recently wrote Digital Leadership. Before Eric guests, I will read his book to extend my ICT knowledge. I have access to education specialists from all over the world. People tweet out questions, advice, resources that others may find valuable. People post questions and while I may not be able to answer their questions about technology, I retweet (RT) them out to my Professional Learning Network (PLN), which consists of many experienced technology specialists. I am constantly learning about apps, programs and new technology information.
Twitter also enables me to use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically and this experience provides a model for my students.
6.1 Identify and plan professional learning needs
It was through Twitter that I learnt about the ELLA app. This will be available very soon. I've be privileged to provide feedback to the ELLA team. It is a simple and powerful app designed to assist Professional Learning for teachers.YOU plan your personal professional development goals. Check out the ELLA website.
6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice
6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice
7.4 Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities
Tweeps share relevant research constantly on Twitter. I can easily engage in high quality opportunities to improve my practice by attending TeachMeets. I believe my colleagues are not just those educators within my building but all of my PLN. By attending TeachMeets, my professional knowledge and practice improves, which results in improved student outcomes. I am constantly engaged in professional discussions and learning to improve my practice and student achievement all thanks to TeachMeets, #satchatoc and Twitter in general. By being part of #satchatoc and TeachMeets, I contribute to professional networks and make connections with other professionals, schools and agencies to improve teaching and learning. Some of the outstanding educators I have connected with and learnt from are- David Price OBE (UK), Julie Lindsay (USA & Aus), Dave Burgess (USA), Cameron Paterson (Aus), Matt Esterman (Aus), Jon Andrews (Aus), Yong Zhao (USA), Stephen Heppell (UK), Andy Varsily (China), Cathy Hunt (Aus), Louiza Hebhardt (Aus) and Lisa Hayman (Aus). One of my personal and professional goals is to help initiate #edcamps in Australia. Over the last two holiday periods I have visited various interstate schools and educators that I have met through Twitter. You can read about these experiences on my other blogs. While Twitter is said to be a microblogging experience, it was my PLN who pushed me out of my comfort zone to begin blogging. For this I am truly grateful (HT-Jon & Matt). Tweeting and blogging is an effective reflective practice. 
Twitter engages you in professional discussions that can develop your Professional Learning Network and improve your practice.

Next time I get asked these questions I will promptly answer -“How can you not be on Twitter?” 

Twitter provides you with the opportunity to- 
  • receive 'free', flexible, 24/7 professional development
  • connect with a world of educators
  • be challenged and inspired by others
  • collaborate and learn from world-renowned educators.
  • meet the AITSL standards

So what's in it for me? 

Connecting with educators via TeachMeets and Twitter builds my Professional Learning Network. Twitter can be more than aspirational talk when laced with resources, links & exposure to thought-provoking leaders via this 'new generosity'. Ultimately, it's all about the students and their learning. 



  1. Your post highlights one of the aspects of teaching many outside the field don't fully appreciate - the relationships teachers take the time to foster that make their jobs more manageable and enjoyable. But most interestingly about this post is that rarely do we see 'real' teachers explicitly make reference to the Professional Teaching Standards. If the standards are meaningful, this really should be done more frequently.

    1. Thanks Leanne. Highlighting the Professional Teaching Standards will hopefully show others how to relate them to their work inside and outside of their classroom.

  2. It would be clear, to any educator that reads this, that your passion and willingness to embrace new technologies and the wonders they reveal, must surely be of benefit to your students.

    1. Thank you! I appreciate your generous comment.

  3. Andrea, a great post.
    Teaching is so much easier when you have a network to lean on. My pln had grown from twitter and teachmeets, and most are outside my normal networks. I can now call on a wider educators, from primary teachers, through to uni lecturers and from all sectors.

    As you have shown, anyone can make these connects you just have to start.
    Phillip @sailpip

    1. Growing a network means developing as a teacher. I appreciate all those who contribute to my profession and my love of learning. No matter where you live, where you work, or your time zone... you can always learn. Thanks for being part of my PLN Phillip.

  4. Hi Andrea,
    I didn't see the value of Twitter until about 6 months after I joined when suddenly I needed some overseas students and teachers to leave comments on my students' blogs. Sue Waters from WA sent out a tweet and I then had lots of connections for blogging. This is how the student blogging challenge started back in 2008.

    Teachers need to start taking risks and even though I am retired now, I still enjoy the twitter chats and hope we can get more tweetmeets and edcamps going in Tasmania.

  5. I agree! We ask students to take risks, to get out of their comfort zone and we tell them if you fail, that's ok. I appreciate your sharing your story. Thank you.