Twitter is an online service that allows individuals to communicate to selected groups in short bursts of information. It can be used for a variety of constructive reasons. There are twitter groups based on a common interest, like edublogging, or career, like teaching, or personal interest, like conservative thought. There seems to be an explosion of twittering going on recently, or perhaps that’s just my observation since I have only recently perched upon the branch. I strongly advocate everything that will improve teaching and I have concluded that there are three reasons why teachers should twitter: connection, collaboration, and creation.
Teachers can be lonely. Connecting with other teachers is important to our physical and emotional well being. Time with colleagues in the staff lounge or after school reflecting on the day’s experiences (war stories) helps to relieve some of the stress built up from spending the day with needy students. The problem is that no one takes the time and often there is not a physical location available to commiserate. Most teachers use computers and spend at least some time online during the day. If you can’t share a cup of joe with a coworker, why not twitter Joe online?
I am one of two computer teachers on campus. My fellow geek teaches across the street and I never see him during the school day. Sure we can collaborate over the phone or through email, but our world is restricted to just the two of us when we do. If we tweet our thoughts and ideas we share them with not only one of our former colleagues, currently teaching in another state, but also all of the other computer teachers in our followers list. Our collaboration expands beyond our physical and individual intellectual boundaries. We become a global computer department.
One teacher can create a world of great curriculum. I have spent countless hours exploring the best ways to teach many lesson plans. But I do not create my best work alone. So whenever I need some perspective, or a fresh idea, I can tweet a short message to my online teacher buddies who can respond instantly with their ideas, and share their own best practices. Together we can create superior classroom learning opportunities for students. The advantages of this type of instant creative input benefit both teachers and students alike as teachers working together build a better learning experience.
We teachers need to very seriously consider the privacy of our students, our schools, and ourselves. I write and tweet under a pseudonym (although I am not trying to hide my identity) because I do not wish to represent the views and opinions of my school or my students when I write. My thoughts, views and experiences are my own intellectual property. Nor do I ever use any of my students or colleagues names. It is simply inappropriate to do so. Twitter is a great service that I believe all teachers should use in their endeavor to become better teachers.