Social media has been influential to my growth as an educator. By connecting with other educators online, I further my own learning, engage in collaborative projects to better support teachers and students and fuel new ideas and inspiration. Twitter has been a particularly important tool for building my personal learning network (PLN) virtually. I am continually amazed at how many educators I connect and collaborate with….but have yet to meet in person. The virtual support, camaraderie and inspiration fuels my heart and mind. I reach out to my PLN for my next book to read, for advice on an upcoming presentation, to request resources or simply gain inspiration.
One of my favorite ways to build my PLN and learn from other educators is through Twitter chats. Twitter chats provide free professional learning and collaboration with others through social media. Participants tweet at particular times on particular topics using hashtags to link their conversations. Here are some of my favorites:
Admittedly, Twitter chats are fast and furious. Thousands of tweets are packed into 30 minute and one hour time blocks. I typically use two devices, have tweets written and ready to go (if the questions were shared early) and have a cup of coffee close by. Yet, it seems no matter how much I prepare myself for the chat, life typically gets in the way. Some of my favorite twitter chats are at night at the same time that my kids are wrapping up sports practice, or needing dinner, or doing homework or getting ready for bed, or…..you get the idea. I struggle to participate through an entire chat as a result.
On a recent chat, I was thrilled to see Dr. Molly Ness lament about timing of the chat with her child's bedtime. I smiled and knew I was not alone. I sent her a private message to thank her for her honesty and jokingly said we should create a Twitter chat on a Saturday morning instead.
I mulled the idea overnight. In a Twitter chat just a few nights before, I connected with two literacy teacher educators around our work together. Part of our conversation focused on using technology and social media in our literacy classes to introduce our preservice teachers to social media, particularly Twitter. I awoke with the idea to create a new twitter chat on Saturday mornings for undergraduate and graduate literacy students, combining my two professional passions: literacy teacher education/coaching and technology. This morning, the #preservicelit idea began taking shape.
I imagine a robust 30-minute chat where future literacy teachers can connect, discuss current ideas in the field, share ideas and resources, grapple with real life teaching challenges, ask questions and meet new mentors for their own professional learning. Preservice teachers can learn about the power of the PLN and use social media professionally, ethically and responsibly to further their learning. Guest hosts can connect students to the very authors, researchers and professionals they are learning from in their teacher education programs. Literacy teacher educators can coach teachers through their virtual interactions, collaborate across institutions, combine their expertise and strengthen education programs together.
This idea is in the wonderfully tentative beginning stages, just waiting for collaboration. I am sending this idea out to the world with hopes that others might be interested and join me. Are you a literacy teacher educator who wants to get involved? Are you a literacy professional who would love to participate as a model for future teachers? Have you started your own chat and have advice? I would love to connect as I continue with this #preservicelit journey.