Some kids learn to read sitting on the floor in their room. Some kids don’t. Some kids take to water like Michael Phelps. Others spend a lot of time in the shallow end. Whether swimming like a fish or reading a book with ease, each person has their own individual journey. Teachers are on different journeys too.
Last year I felt like a Kindergartener learning to read or that kid who stayed in the shallow end of the pool. My school set Professional Learning Networks as a faculty goal. We were introduced to the idea of using Twitter as one way to create a PLN. We created accounts, followed each other and learned a little bit. I used it a lot like a magazine.
After the first meeting or two there were other things on the agenda and the PLN fell to the wayside and it became one of those things that often happens in schools. Teachers are exposed to an idea, they get excited, and then it sits on the shelf along with all the other professional development long forgotten.
I found some folks posting interesting stuff, and I found myself reading articles on a regular basis. But after a while, I got busy with other things and forgot about that little bird. Near the end of the year when we reflected on the PLN, most people said they either used it occasionally or they quit looking at it by Christmas. In other words, no one found it very useful.
You can imagine how I felt when I saw Twitter as a form of communication on my syllabus. “What a waste of time.” I thought. My previous experience did not offer much of a reward, and I did not see the relevance. Fortunately, I am one of those kids who wants to do his best; I knew I had to figure out a way to get my head around it. Twitter was part of the program.
At first I just avoided it. I stomped around the house and stewed about the requirement. After several days of avoidance, I realized I was probably afraid of something. My mindset was out of whack. “You found Twitter interesting before. You just don’t see its usefulness in this context,” I told myself. “There’s no way so many people love this platform, if there isn’t something useful.”
I decided to try. When I was waiting for dinner to cook, I would read an article. When I was waiting at the doctor, I would find someone new to follow. I googled, “Twitter for beginners,” and I learned something new. I started getting interested. That little shift in my thinking helped. The growth mindset really works.
On a recent Sunday morning I discovered one reason Twitter works. I was listening to my thoughtful NPR program and the host was screaming! “It is Sunday morning. Calm down.” I thought. I pulled out my phone, found the host, and tweeted, “Why are you screaming?” In under a minute she had tweeted back her reason. Wow. I was not expecting her to respond. I had just discovered another reason why Twitter works.
I am by no means a Twitter expert, but I am learning. Like beginning readers, I am reading and the more you read the better you get and like beginning swimmers, I learned that you can swim towards the deep end and turn back if you need too. But like all readers, swimmers, and learners once you give it a good faith effort you realize, “Your Doing It!”