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 teaching.
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
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.