Hands up if you’ve had the thought that Twitter is totally pointless? You know the one where you think to yourself, “why do people insist on telling everyone what they had for dinner?” We have all had that thought. Rightly so. There are people out there who tweet about dinner. Maybe even post a photo or perhaps link to a YouTube clip showing them preparing the meal. You think I’m joking.
I was a sceptic too. I thought, “How much social media does one person need?” It all seemed a bit too much and a little too hard to add another thing to my list of sites to surf when I got home from work of an afternoon. I was immune to swimming in the deep end of the pool on my own trying to keep my head above water, desperately needing to connect with others about my teaching but not knowing how.
But every web tool has a purpose if used in the appropriate way to get what you need. It ain’t called social media for nothing. What can this word “social” imply? Is it just to tweet about what you’re having for dinner or can it be something more?
That is why now I am a huge Twitter advocate. In January last year I participated in an Edublogs.org free Teacher Professional Development course. It was called the “Kick Start Your Blogging” Teacher Challenge and it was showing teachers over four weeks how to create a blog and use it either as a personal Professional Learning Network (PLN) or as a class blog.The tutorials are still available and if you have not considered blogging before either personally or with your class I highly recommend this website. The tutorials are simple and easy to follow.
In the final weeks of the challenge we looked at building readership and one of the ways suggested was Twitter.
The advice I remember taking was sign-up and start with spending no more than 5 minutes a day on there. So that’s what I did.
Initially I tweeted to some of the other Teacher Challenge participants. Slowly I found links about Drama and bravely shared them using bit.ly to make them short links and therefore easier to tweet (tweets are only 140 characters long). Maybe someone would find what I had to share interesing?
Soon I built up the courage to respond to other teachers tweets. I started following a lot of teachers from all teaching areas as well as primary and high school teachers both in Australia and abroad. Eventually I struck up some friendships. Friendships that have become real life, face-to-face friendships, void of any psycho tendencies. True.
Teaching can be incredibly isolating. Particularly if you are the only teacher in your school teaching your subject. Or perhaps you are first year out or teaching out of faculty. We have our support networks within school but sometimes the day is so frantic you have barely had time to scratch yourself let alone sit down and discuss any ideas you may have or get resources and support from your colleagues. Twitter for me has become an added support system. It has provided me with inspiration, encouragement, support, as well as links to some excellent resources and discussions. About everything to do with education. I learnt about the TeachMeet project through Twitter and it has been another fabulous support network and resource that I encourage all private and public sector teachers to consider becoming a part of.
Whilst the Drama Teacher contingent is growing on Twitter it is still rather small and it would be wonderful to see more of us connecting.
So if you’re looking for a larger support network, new ideas for your teaching and learning practice then Twitter may be for you. Do the same thing I did: sign-up, log on for 5 mins a day and PLAY! Fail, tweet about your dinner and see what comes of it. You may be surprised by what you find.
My drama teaching has felt more invigorated and inspired since finding a larger support network. The collegiality and friendships I have formed through Twitter mean a lot to me.I don’t know what I was doing living in an isolation bubble for so long.
An Introduction to Twitter can be found here.
If you are already a Drama Teacher on Twitter and I have not connected with you I would love to. Find me at my handle @karlao_dtn.
Share your thoughts with me in the comments. They are appreciated.