Two years ago, our superintendent issued a challenge to our staff: get out and try social media, especially take a look at Twitter.
To take a step back, I’d tried social media, I had my Facebook page and thought, “Twitter?? Why would I care about who eat Taco Bell??” Well, I’d also heard murmuring of things like “PLN” and “flattened classrooms”, finding myself intrigued What are these things? How can I, a small town Iowa teacher, use them? Heck, could I even use them?
So, I did what many people have done, I restarted a Twitter account I’d made a couple of years earlier and started to play. My first time truly using it was at our state’s Methodist Annual Conference. Now, before you start slowly stepping away, I’m a spiritual person, just not a big church person, so this kind of conference fits me. It’s more about the running of the church, the politics, the budget, which is all very interesting to me! Anyway, I tweeted, using a hashtag, and the next thing I knew, I had a few followers! Cool!
Being it was summer, I had time in the morning to start checking out this thing called a “Twitter feed” using HootSuite to add a number of stream to watch. Awesome, look at all this!! After that, #5thchat popped up, and that was perfect timing for me, struggling to find a place at that point. And as I become more of a participant, I found more information, and best of all, I started to find my voice, a place in education. At that point, I was discouraged with where I was in teaching, and while I cannot imagine doing anything else, I could start to imagine doing it somewhere else.
As I continued to explore Twitter, in August, my blog was officially opened for business. As I’ve continued to write, to expand my own thinking about where my part is in education, this blog has been a key part in it. I’ve found this blog to be a calming influence, a place where I can do a “mind purge” of all the stuff that is going on. Whether about class, education, my family, whatever, I know that I can pull this up and write. And as I’ve posted, I know I’m no writer, far from it, but I feel as those this kind of writing is real. If these words can reach someone, help them in someway, bring a smile or create a conflicted thought, then it’s worth it to me!
As I reflect on what two years has meant, a couple of things pop out at me. First, I just crossed 14,000 tweets. What?? Are you kidding?? But while some of them were silly (one hit rap wonders), many are educationally based, professionally my place of passion. I love the fact that I can make an impact, living on an acreage in the middle of the most gorgeous part of the country, Northeast Iowa. If you’ve ever watched the Decorah Eagle, you are seeing what I live and work in on a daily basis! Second, I broke 1,800 followers. Again, are you kidding me?? That many people have in interest in what I have to say? Ha! I know this isn’t the case, but yet, I’m in awe and intimated that.
Anyway, my advice to anyone who’s in that camp of “why”: get your toes wet. Find a hash tag to follow, whether #edchat which is the largest education tag or something more specialized. My favorites: #IAedchat (Iowa chat), #ArEdChat (Arkansas chat), #tlap (Based and moderated by the author of the book Teach Like a Pirate), and #d5Chat (Daily 5 chat). As you watch, throw out a comment or two, pass along an article or link to a great site you are doing. Start a blog, and tell us what you are thinking. Now is the time for us to take the story line of education and make it our own. I’ve learned through this great experiment that I have a voice, a voice that makes a diference in the world. Your voice matters and I’d live to hear about what you are thinking.
And of course, follow me at @AnIowaTeacher! 🙂