Sunday, October 5, 2014

Twitter: Connectedness and More

Have you ever taken a trip to the store in search of a specific item and found yourself finding that and a few other things you had no intention of buying. For a bargain hunter like me, it happens all the time.  Well, for me, Twitter has delivered much more than I expected to find when I plunged into its world last year.

Last spring I got serious about Twitter after learning that it was an ideal PD source.  I am "the" secondary ESL teacher for my school district.  We are a very small district and although we have three ESL teachers who serve our elementary and intermediate schools, I'm it for the secondary level.  I love it because I get to take the students from 7th grade all the way through to 12th grade, or until they exit if sooner.  Aside from helping them grow their English language communication skills, I get to mentor them as they get ready to graduate and take on the world.  It's very rewarding, but being a lone ranger is, well, lonely.   I split my days between the high school and middle school and although most teachers are very supportive and cooperative, I'm sort of a misfit.  I don't seem to fit in with any particular PLC, department or even school.  For the most part, I'm okay with it because it keeps me focused on my students, but there are times that I need to connect with someone who is in my field and grade level.

And so, I joined my first Twitter chat, #ELLchat and found it a great source of PD.  However, what I never expected was to connect with education professionals from a variety of fields, grade levels and countries.  Not only have I made some invaluable contacts in the ESL field, Twitter has enabled me to grow professionally in ways I never expected.  Here are just a few:

1.  #BestYearEver
This is my motto for this year.  It was started by Edutopia and I found it on Twitter. This hashtag has been a jumpstart and continues to keep me moving.  It's written on my whiteboard so I can never lose sight of all the great things that are in store for this year.

2. #GoodCallsHome
We all have the best of intentions for making positive calls all year long, but early in the school year I heard about the Good Calls Home movement on Twitter and joined in.  My colleagues keep me accountable through our posts.  This also became one of the goals on my professional development plan.

3. #ReflectiveTeacher
Thanks to TeachThought, I am now more reflective than I've ever been.  During the month of September, I joined the blogging challenge.  The challenge was intended to help teachers become more reflective, however, for me, this gave me an incentive to blog on a regular basis.  Although I'm very much a novice blogger, thanks to the blogging challenge I'm blogging regularly.  I post at least once a week and share these musings on Twitter.

4.  Global Connectedness
I expected to connect and chat with a few other ESL teachers across the U.S., but I never expected to be connected to teachers across the world - Canada, Australia, Ireland, Spain and New Zealand, just to name a few.  I'm also now more global-minded as I plan and carry out my lessons.  I hope to eventually connect my English learners to some of my colleagues' students at some point too.

There are so many unquantifiable benefits and there is still a great deal I need to learn about Twitter, so I'm sure there will be many other finds.


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