Baby Steps in a Grassroots Movement


As I listened to the presentations at the Reform Symposium Conference last weekend, one of my most common personal wonderings was, “Why are my school and city not in on RSCON, too?” This question evolved into, “What is it going to take for others at my school to join the wave and take the plunge into a PLN?” Eventually, I began to wonder this: “How can I make it happen?”

I thought about my involvement in my Personal Learning Network and realized it would never have evolved into what it is today if not for Twitter. Twitter was the reason I started a blog. Twitter was how I came to discover Mike Harrison (the first teacher I ever followed and connected with; I had originally intended Twitter as a platform for my photography, so getting in touch with Mike was significant, as it became the start of what my Twitter use has evolved into). Twitter was how I found out about the second Reform Symposium, which became an impetus for me to reach out to someone who has since become an absolute go-to in my PLN.

Twitter, for me, is the lifeblood of my experience online as an educator.

So, in wondering how I could expose my colleagues to all the wonderful opportunities online, it was obvious: get them on Twitter.

Last week, I circulated a Google Doc survey that many people completed, giving me a snapshot of the educator’s experience of Twitter as a professional development tool. I wasn’t surprised by the multitudinous benefits people wrote about. In fact, the responses validated my mission: with 24-hour professional development opportunities right at your fingertips and a wealth of ever-changing information, if you have a desire to improve as an educator and benefit your students, you can no longer afford to be offline.

I sent an e-mail to my principal letting her know of my involvement in Twitter and the various ways in which I’ve used it as a springboard to the other wonderful resources on the web. I wrote about my experiences collaborating with other educators for my own benefit and for the benefit of my students.

She was intrigued. In her reply, she asked that I come in before the start of the school year so we can figure out the school’s first steps towards bringing people into the fold.

Now I’m working on a presentation to share with my colleagues, and brainstorming possible in-house professional development I hope to give about Twitter. I’m envisioning colleagues – not all, but many – developing their own PLN, finding their own niches, contributing in their own ways, and collectively moving us all toward a place where we are better educators and our students reap the benefits. It’s a bit of a grassroots idea for my school, and it’s exciting to imagine the possibilities.

I don’t pretend that my goal isn’t ambitious. Surely I will encounter skepticism. I was once a skeptic myself, frequently remarking about Twitter, “I don’t care what Ashton Kutcher ate for breakfast.”

But I was misguided. The truth is simple. For anyone serious about adding to their repertoire of growth opportunities, Twitter is a must.

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