Whenever someone is presenting on the value of Twitter for teachers and educators, and there is a shout out for “tell us who you are and why you love Twitter for education”, there is always a flurry of people talking about how they love twitter for connecting with other educators, for conversation and for sharing ideas. But how often is that really happening?
The most valuable moment in my growth as a twitter user came several years ago when I posted a math resource. Ira Socal (@irasocal) replied that he didn’t think I was the kind of educator who used resources like that. It caught me completely by surprise. I had not critically judged the resource I shared. It was being used at my school. A teacher had recommended it. I tweeted it. But I had no idea if it was effective.
How often do we share without thinking? How often to we quickly scan something and share? There is so much information out there. How often do we take the time to read, think, reflect, and ask questions of our PLN? How often do we engage our PLN in critical thinking, or in conversations that challenge our beliefs?
Stephen Katz talks about the importance of not trying to cover a “mile”, but to pick the right “inch” and then dig in deep.
There is nothing wrong with sharing. I hope that what I put out there is useful, that it provokes thought and helps kids. But it is worth taking the time to really read something carefully, to reflect on what is being said, and to challenge the thinking of others.
So how do we start digging deeper into what we are learning from our colleagues on Twitter?
Think about taking part in a chat. Everything you need to know to take part in a Twitter chat can be found here: Cybrary Man’s Educational Chats on Twitter. If you want to see samples of chat discussions, check out the #edchat archives here.
Or, just read something that is posted. Blog about it. Ask questions about it. Think more deeply about it. Who would use this? Do you agree with it? Does it align with the Strategic Plan where you work? Do you have experiences to add to it? Can you refer to it in a discussion on another topic?
There are real people with great brains behind those Twitter handles. Let’s make sure Twitter is more than an “echo chamber” and instead, a place where we can challenge each other to think critically about our practice.