Over the past year I have moved from being a haphazard lurker on Twitter to a conscientious participant. The “Ted-ish” talk HHS student Ashley Olafsen delivered at MassCUE last fall (as well as my own experience as a MassCUE presenter) compelled me to reconsider the way I interact with the Twitter community.
Inspired by my student’s daring and message, I jumped into the participatory culture of Twitter — ignoring fears about typos (they happen), squelching worries about what others will think (still wrestling with this one), & eager to contribute (not just take).
Certainly, Twitter has been a great tool for sharing information. Walking around school with my phone in hand allowed me a quick, convenient way to tell stories about and share the great, real work that students & teachers do daily. But, looking back over these past few months, I was struck by what Twitter has done for my own professional practice. Over this summer alone I
- Curated resources, teaching ideas, & stories on activism for my new HS Social Justice course
- Attended my first #edcamp
- Participated in my first #sunchat & found an amazing PLC
- Connected with women educational leaders & instructional coaches from all over the world via #satchatoc
- Discovered a wonderful picture book (thanks to @pernilleripp), which resonates nicely with the #SuperYou “fundation” & my goal of helping students and teachers find their superpower (The Day I Lost My Superpowers)
- Backchanelled at #BLC15, which helped me meet other students and teachers who combine learning with student activism to change the world (#NoPressure)
- Started this blog, inspired by a collection of amazing women including Starr Sackstein, Pernille Ripp, Nikki Robertson, and Shelly Sanchez (& her #30GoalsChallenge)
- Can follow the scholars I studied in grad school and relied on as I wrote my dissertation over a decade ago (including Robin D. G. Kelley and P. Gabrielle Foreman)
- Accessed a perspective on the #BlackLivesMatter Movement beyond mainstream media
- Found a virtual book club to follow along with as I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me
- Began collaborating with BPS Director of Social Studies Kerri Dunne (& other teachers working on connecting history to Social Justice), whom I have followed & just met in person to figure out ways to connect what we do.
These are some the many concrete examples of how my participation in the Twitter community has positively impacted me as an educator. What has Twitter done for you lately?
CODA: Even as I celebrate what Twitter has done for me, I remain cognizant of the fact that the Twitter #edu community is not “activism” in and of itself, nor is it without faults. Retweeting a post on #BlackLivesMatter does not make me an activist. Long lists of shoutouts to #eduheroes will not change transform students’ educational experiences. Not all chats, exchanges, and tweets will be genuine, meaningful, and/or productive. But the easily accessible community-building and resource/idea sharing that Twitter allows does provide the capacity for connecting to and with others in ways that can make a difference in our daily lives and our teaching practice.
Which brings me back full circle to why I moved from haphazard lurker to conscientious participant: You get out of Twitter what you put into it. Please do all you can to make Twitter a space that matters.