Monday, 29 August 2016

Twitter: The Bread Breaker

In a post I wrote a few months back "INQUIRY: 120 CHARACTERS AT A TIME," I constructed a fantasy teacher team, consisting of educators I've long admired through blogs and Twitter. The reality is, Twitter allows you to have a limitless staffroom.
Once you get involved in Twitter as a way to grow professionally, the possibilities are almost limitless. -Howard Pitler, Ed.D. (full text here)
The applications of Twitter have allowed me to invite experts into the classroom (including some feedback from Margaret Atwood). Not only did Austin Kleon inspire me to trial blackout poetry with my class, but he helped praise my grade 9 poets via Twitter as well. I've followed conferences around the globe, and taken part in professional development chats through Twitter.  As of last year, I've been able to invite big thinkers to feature as guest authors for a monthly #teacherbookclub (more on that here). Some of the best questions I've cultivated as a learner have been the direct result of developing a professional learning network via Twitter. Time and time again, Twitter reminds me to break down my own echo chamber, to invite debate, and to listen to a variety of perspectives.  The Teacher Toolkit has a great list of profiles on Twitter to check out, he reminds us to connect with PSHE experts, with educational psychologists, authors, CEOs, and people who have alternative lenses when it comes to teaching and learning. One of my all-time favorite podcasts, Note To Self, reminds us that we need to be active in order to truly be open-minded:

If leadership sets the tone and enables teachers to be innovators, how can they best use Twitter as an agent of change?

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To start with, connected teachers need connected leaders.  

I'm always impressed by administrators who make time to 'walk the talk,' in order to openly promote authentic reflection, contemplation, and general public thought perspiration. A great example of that is Paula Baxter's  (Primary Head of ISPP, Cambodia) very first post available here.
I am a teacher first and a principal second. I come to school every day because I love kids and learning. That’s the story I wanted to share, and that I am still sharing today.
George Couros does a great job of introducing fellow leaders to Twitter in his post "Social Media for Administrators." For the rest of my post, I'll focus on ways I've been inspired by leaders using Twitter:

1. Leaders rethinking leadership:

'Reflection,' doesn't have to be clichè. The more stakeholders we see engaging in reflection, the more street credit it will have for students.

2. Creative curation

Every school year is unique.  Taking the time to use Twitter to preserve moments, to document, and to be in awe of what we do when we 'do learning,' is admirable.

3. Provocation

Some of the best learning experiences we can have are the byproduct of a good old fashioned argument.  If you can't feel comfortable hosting a debate with your colleagues, explore that further.

Sentiment is as important as situational awareness. Some arguments stir organizational emotions in ways others do not. Similarly, some disagreements energize the enterprise just as surely as others drain the life out of people. Having the same most important argument for years tends to be a very bad sign. (full text from HBR here)

4. Leveling up on gratitude

So very, very much happens behind the scenes to allow schools to do what they need to do.  The #SISrocks hashtag out of Shekou International School is a lovely example of a tag gone viral in the best possible way.

5. Learn in the great wide open

I love knowing what my leaders and colleagues are reading. I love talking to people about their favorite podcasts.  Our media diets matter.

One of my school's fabulous librarians, Ms. Day has 2,707 books on her Goodreads shelf. Yes, 2,707. Many members of staff have commented on her uncanny ability to know what to recommend to them at the drop of a hat.  One scan of her Goodreads/Twitter presence and you'll know why that's not so shocking. A librarian has the power to shape the way we approach inquiry, and the value we place on learning for the sake of learning.  One of my favorite quotes about libraries comes from comedian Paula Poundstone:

The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community.

–Paula Poundstone
When I spend a few minutes in the library or scoping out our librarian's Twitter feed, I see someone championing that vision: building a space for a learning community in the best possible sense.  How lucky schools are everywhere, that leaders like this are leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for the rest of us.

If you are a school leader, how are you using Twitter to leverage your communities?

Kat Selvocki Follow Trail of (gluten-free) bread crumbs.
Kat Selvocki Follow
Trail of (gluten-free) bread crumbs. Via Flickr

Cross-posted from @FriedEnglish101

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