How Twitter has made me a New Teacher

TwitterThe other day I managed to pass a couple of Twitter milestones, 500 followers and 3000 tweets, and I made me really stop and think about how this thing that many of us use named Twitter has affected my life and my passion for teachingimage.
I teach at a steadily growing, but really still small, country school in the lower middle of the South Island of New Zealand. The closest town is 20 minutes away and has a standing population 4-5 thousand people year round. Like in most New Zealand primary schools I am the only male teacher. I am isolated geographically, but was beginning to feel isolated also as a teacher.
Looking back at this time last year I was very dissatisfied with my job and if given the opportunity I may have jumped ship to a new profession. Do not get the wrong idea about where I work, as it is a postcard beauty, the community is great and my colleagues are really wonderful people and practitioners, but I just was not feeling stimulated and school was starting to feel burnt out. Things that I was trying to implement within the school as lead teacher in eLearning were working for some, but I could not get others to come on board and instead of trying new approaches like I would with students I was becoming a bit bitter.

Then I grabbed an opportunity to travel to an EXPO in Dunedin where I met up with a teacher who I had met the past year and he was Tweeting. He asked me for my Twitter name and I looked at him blankly as I believed that Twitter was just plain stupid and who cares what I had for breakfast or other dumb things that Twitter users tweet about. He explained that I was wrong and that he just keeps in contact with other teachers that he knows, but does not get to physically see that often. Then through the WiFi I downloaded the Twitter App on my phone and @dukelyer was born.

It lay dormant for a few months and it took me many tries to even remember the password and username, but after seeing two passionate, knowledgeable and enthusiastic teachers mention Twitter and a PLN as part of their success I new that I had to give it a go and have not looked back since.

For the first time in my 10 years of teaching I am really connected and my passion for teaching and more importantly learning has been rekindled. I reconnected with old friends that I had not seen for many many years and through chats like #EdChatNZ I have become friends with many other teachers around the New Zealand and had the privilege to meet many of them in real life – which to me is the apex of connectivity. It is a place where every idea has worth and there is always a helpful string of suggestions about where to go or who to contact if you have a problem. It has been likened to the staffroom where you get to choose who is there and who you listen to.a

image

 

My classroom blog was quite successful pre twitter, but through twitter to promote and make connections with other classes around the world. Pre-twitter was 3,000 views in 3 1/2 years and now less than a year later we get than many visits each month with comments, which was the thing that was missing. Through following hashtags like #CommentsForKids I get to sneak a peek into classes all around the world and leave them short comments like other twitter users do for my class. Seeing a child read a comment from a stranger commenting on their creativity from the other side of the world is just magical. Last year we got several classes involved in Twitter and that was where #KidsEdChatNZ began and I am looking forward to seeing it carry on this year.

 

I have tweeted with musicians, actors and authors that are my creative heroes and I have discussed theories and issues with my education heroes. No longer does distance make you remote or separated from the happenings of the world and it has made me a better teacher and I look for ways to challenge myself at every opportunity.

Thank you Twitter

PN: 13 hours later I have to add one more photo.

Twitter

 

 

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21 comments on “How Twitter has made me a New Teacher

  1. Christine Wells (@wellschristine) says:

    Fantastic post, Luke! I can totally relate to what you are saying, Twitter has changed my life too. I also follow my creative musical heroes and have discovered lots of teacher heroes too. You are one of them so keep up the good work 😝

  2. A wonderful post to read – it sounds like Twitter has been a real breath of fresh air for you. A PLN is a rather magical bunch of people indeed and can certainly be counted on to come through with great PD for us, any time, any day!

    Keep tweeting and keep learning!

    • dukelyer says:

      Thanks Kimberley and I do not know if I could give up my Twitter PLN. I am looking forward to receiving the Rhino from you early next term and keen to see its journey around the world.

  3. Ms Bee says:

    Yay, yay and yay!!! It is all about the connecting, the sharing and the building on knowledge isn’t it? The port hole that twitter offers is an inspirational layer to being a teacher.

    • dukelyer says:

      Seeing you and Anne Tweeting and shouting the praises of Twitter at Educamp in Cromwell was the true birth of my Twitter Self and I can not thank you enough.
      Tēnā rawa atu koe

  4. Great post, Luke. Twitter has also opened doors for me, and it was great to meet you f2f at ICOT2013! Keep being awesome, mate!

  5. Thanks for the post! I am an educator in Canada and Twitter is a professional development dream! You learn so much by connecting!

  6. Rob Ferguson says:

    Great post and great to see how technology can help connect teachers from around the world. I found Twitter at ICOT this year. In fact my first breakout was a little boring and have using twitter ever since.

    From the media I thought Twitter was negative time waster but it is so much more!! The informal PD available to teachers is testament to that.

    My sister and her family live in Hawea and with their eldest heading your way soon it will be great to tell them about your great work.

    I’m a High School Art teacher and it was great to see education at ICOT using some familiar strategies from the Arts. High Schools have got to get with the program though! We are so wrapped up in our own departments.

    I’m just getting into the website and blog thing myself and getting very inspired by people like yourself.

    Cheers

    Rob

  7. “…as I believed that Twitter was just plain stupid and who cares what I had for breakfast or other dumb things that Twitter users tweet about. ”

    That is EXACTLY how I felt about it. I was one of the first that signed up for Twitter when it arrived and I didn’t “get it” and never went back to it as I thought what you thought. That was until I was re-introduced to it by my studies for COETAIL a few weeks ago. Now I “get it”.

    I’m going to look up that #CommentsForKids now…

    Thanks for the great read.

    @chezvivian

  8. Kerry Muste says:

    Amen :)
    Me too ! I am hoping to share the love in my presentation about Twitter at the Slide2Learn Conference in Perth.
    Thanks for following my blog. I am grateful for my PLN and they encourage me to keep blogging and tweeting.
    Congrats on your great blog.
    Kerry

  9. Wendy says:

    Thanks for the inspiration

  10. This is great. I am feeling a little like you were. Isolated in my passion for teaching and trying as hard as I can to get others on board with me. It’s tough, but I love the kids and the learning — that’s what counts. So thankful for Twitter connections and conversations.

  11. Loved it Luke. I can’t believe this was RTed almost 300 times. Amazing. You need a Pinterest share button- it’s located in your Settings:Sharing section of your dashboard.

  12. […] How Twitter has made me a new teacher […]

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