If you were on Twitter

TrappedDear educator, if you were on Twitter yesterday, you might have found:

  1. this awesome reflection about working with a teacher on technology integration; or
  2. these resources about ‘learning styles’ and whether they’re a myth; or
  3. this list of ideas about how to rethink awards ceremonies; or
  4. this list of 100 free apps to check out for that new iPad you just bought; or
  5. this update about the thousands of new online resources that PBS will provide you starting this fall; or
  6. these fabulous summer reads from The Atlantic; or
  7. these tips for using students’ interests in online video to make ‘book trailers’; or
  8. this story on how student gardens change attitudes and teach nutrition; or
  9. these suggestions for integrating iPads into your teaching; or
  10. this post about self-evident assessment; or
  11. these resources for reworking your acceptable use policies; or
  12. this list of useful web sites for creating outlines; or
  13. these award-winning chemistry videos; or
  14. these instructions on how to make self-grading quizzes; or
  15. this video about students developing their own learning paths; or
  16. these great ideas for doing Webquests in your classroom; or
  17. these tips for effective team teaching; or
  18. these 10 simple cooking tips that you wish someone had told you earlier; or
  19. this story about how teachers are accommodating students’ mobile phones for learning; or
  20. these incredible photos from the space shuttle Endeavor’s final mission.

But you weren’t on Twitter yesterday, so it’s likely that you saw none of this. And, yes, you probably also would have seen someone posting a picture of some strawberries or talking about how they just went to their kid’s Little League game. Or some friendly banter between friends. Or even someone chatting about walking their dog or the great sandwich that they just ate. Good grief, who posts that stuff? Don’t they have anything better to do with their lives?

Instead of being on Twitter yesterday, perhaps you were talking with your neighbors over the back fence. That’s a real relationship, isn’t it? Not like those so-called online ‘friendships’ where people ‘like’ each other. That back fence relationship is great, isn’t it? Almost every day you share little tidbits with each other. Much of it is banal or just friendly chatter, but much of it also is useful: where’s the best place to get this, how can I find that, do you have any suggestions for how best to accomplish this other thing, by the way I saw this thing today that might interest you, and so on. At some point you also realized that those small day-to-day interactions over the back fence about each others’ strawberries and Little League games and dog walks and sandwiches have somehow added up to something more enduring: lasting friendships and a positive interdependency that you never would have anticipated at the beginning.

Because you’re not on Twitter, what you don’t realize is that Twitter is the back fence you share with your neighbors. Except your neighbors are people all over the world who share your interests and passions and can help you accomplish your personal and professional goals. Every day you have a chance to learn from these online neighbors. Every day you have a chance to receive resources that you otherwise never would have found. Every day you have a chance to intersect with people who care about what you care about and are willing to help you be more productive and save time. And much of it is banal or just friendly chatter, but much of it also is useful.

What’s that? You don’t want to be part of a community that shares your interests? You don’t have time to learn? You’d rather not receive helpful resources? Oh, okay. Good for you, I guess.

Why, again, dear educator, aren’t you on Twitter?

Image credit: Twitter

3 Responses to “If you were on Twitter”

  1. What a terrific post, Scott. Thank you! I ask the same question of business leaders and corporate educators. Their answers, as to why they aren’t on Twitter, usually distill down to believing they don’t have the time (in other words they haven’t learned to make this their banter spot rather than the break room or a colleague’s extra chair), or they’re having a hard enough time keeping up with all the new information people are throwing at them elsewhere (without realizing Twitter may provide a more efficient place to filter for new information and create targeted serendipity in the process).

    Hopefully posts like yours will coax them to step over the [back] fence.

  2. Well, for one thing, many of the preservice teachers and inservice teachers that I talk to have no idea that any of this goes on on Twitter. In their limited knowledge and experience, it is still seen as a time waster, a trivia tool, and a way to share mindless ideas.

    So, this post becomes one of many great resources to use and share. But, it requires that someone find it and share it. So, for those not connected in this way at all (RSS, blogs, other social media), it likely won’t happen any time soon…

  3. I agree with Steve that a lot of teachers (and administrators) don’t see this side of Twitter. There are so many hashtags for education, but how do you find one that fits? It’s daunting. I know it took me quite a while to find my way around Twitter, and I know I am still missing 90% of the cool conversations.
    if you could only share three hashtags to follow for a new educator to Twitter, which three would you recommend?

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