This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the EdcampKC technology conference in Kansas City, MO. This was my first "unconference," which basically means the entire conference was participant-driven and each session was presented by someone who was actually attending the conference. There was a big board set up in the main room, and before the conference officially started any person interested in presenting was able to sign up to present. This was an awesome format because each session had a presenter who was passionate about his/her presentation topic.
Everything about this experience was great...except for the fact that the people I met all live in different cities throughout the United States. This completely reaffirmed and reinforced my belief about Twitter as an essential tool in the educator's tool belt. Twitter is without doubt the best way to learn from and stay in contact with the highest number of great educators from around the world. Here are 5 ways you can help transform your department, building, and district into an environment that embraces 24/7 professional development and the power of the "Tweet."
1) - Share resources you discover by using Twitter with others - this is a perfect way to segue into the strength of Twitter.
When other educators start to see and hear some of the great ideas you are discovering, they will naturally want to know where the ideas are coming from. Take a few moments and show them the benefits of Twitter as they pertain to your growth and development. As others start to see and hear about your engaged students and staff, they are definitely going to want to know how you are doing it...share the wealth!
2) - Find a "tribe" of like-minded educators who can help you spread the word.
Seth Godin wrote a great book called "Tribes." This book is about establishing a tribe, and most importantly the strength of a group of people with a common interest. Find some educators in your department, building, and district who are already using Twitter as a PD tool. Meet with them and discuss ways to help share the power of Twitter. Focus first on the educators who you think will be easy converts, and once the group grows the Twitter revolution will be under way.
3) - Encourage and invite others to follow you and see what you are doing - don't force it!
Taking step number 2 to the next level. You CAN'T force this upon people! Take some time and slowly show people how they can use Twitter to grow and develop as an educator. You will need to be a salesman to a certain extent, but it is absolutely crucial you do not try to force others to use something in which they are not interested. Encourage educators to be consumers of information before becoming creators of information. Watching and observing how Twitter works can be the perfect transition before really jumping in.
4) - Show your students and / or parents how you use Twitter to become a better educator - students and parents can be valuable "connectors" (Gladwell - The Tipping Point)
Recognizing the power and influence of parents and students can be extremely valuable when sharing ideas and information. As we all learn fairly quickly, parents and students talk, and they talk a lot. Let's share the tools we are using to grow and develop by empowering these "connectors." When parents and students are talking about you, make sure to give them the ammunition so they can say great things!
5) - Lead by example...tweet and tweet like there is no tomorrow (value tweet, don't spam)
Leaders lead by example while simultaneously empowering and bettering those around them. Help spread the word about Twitter by being an example of how it can positively affect the professional growth and development of educators. When you tweet make sure you are tweeting information of value...the fastest way to turn off someone on the edge is by tweeting useless information they can't use.
If you have any additional strategies or tips please comment and share your experiences so we can compile an even larger list. Thank you, and good luck Tweeps!