A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of taking a soccer coaching course through the NSCAA at Elmhurst College outside of Chicago. At the course I met a lot of great coaches from across the United States and Canada. One coach in particular, Rahim M. introduced me to Twitter as a tool for gathering ideas and information from some of the game’s top managers.
I was skeptical at first about diving into this particular form of social media, after all wasn’t Twitter just another way that professional athletes and actors got in trouble with the public? Who would really want to follow me, a teacher and coach of significance only to friends and family? I already had a Facebook account that I kept up with and was able to share pictures and insights with.
After sitting down with Rahim though, I learned that it wasn’t just an outlet for sending out your own 140-character or fewer thoughts about the world, but rather it was a resource for a vast amount of information. In fact, if I didn’t want to, I didn’t have to ever Tweet myself, rather I could just read what others have said and posted.
Since that July coaching course I have spent time working with the Twitter platform and have picked up a new appreciation for just how powerful it can be. I am by no means an expert on the topic and I am constantly picking up new tips and tricks to find and use more information, but I admit that I am a convert. What started as a means for keeping up with a couple of soccer coaches and their techniques and tactics has developed into my own personal and professional learning community! After committing myself to a little bit new a night for 30 days (a tip I picked up by watching at great TED video) I began to realize the awesome organizational power of Twitter.
Have you ever sat down at the computer convinced that you needed to look something up, but when faced with the prospect of where to search you became completely overwhelmed? If you haven’t, try looking up “teacher lessons” or “professional learning communities” or even “educational trends”. The amount of material produced by Google searches like these does little sort the junk from the diamonds in the rough. A carefully selected Twitter community helps to filter the information that you spend your valuable time working on.
Building a community of teacher knowledge is simple with Twitter. There is a fantastic amount of teaching and learning going on in this country. By the nature of the job though, much of the great stuff that is taking place in schools across the country never reaches the eyes and ears of others that would love to improve their practice. Teachers did not get into the business to showcase everything that they do; they decided on education because they wanted to make a difference. As a consequence, recognition for great work is minimal and the sharing of great work is typically limited to the confines of a school or the occasional conference. Twitter opens the doors of millions of schools across the country and allows teachers to share their resources, ideas, and techniques in a global community of people dedicated to improving education and the minds of youth. Already this year, I have used ideas in my classroom from teachers in California, Sweden, and Colorado and I am looking forward to further research into more great teaching.
Not only does Twitter help with creating great lessons, but it keeps educators abreast of the latest trends in education with funding, grants, and technology. It also provides the platforms for live discussions and links to the filtered material that we should be spending our time reading. The amount of great stuff out there can be daunting and there really are not enough hours in the day to read all of it, but that just shows how dedicated to sharing and improving education teachers and those involved with schools are.
Sure celebs and athletes vent their thoughts on Twitter, but after using this platform for a couple of months, I can honestly say that I do not follow a single one of them, and my following list is full of the most important people across the country, the men and women educating our youth.