Untangling the World of Books, Technology, and Instruction

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why Twitter? Why Not?

I have been percolating the idea of how to explain the power of Twitter as a professional learning and branding tool for quite some time. When I've been asked by colleagues why it's such a great resource, I kind of go ...... Um........Wow, I really need a good answer.
How do those of us using Twitter share it's power with the non-believers? And I write that with no mean spirit intended.  Facebook hasn't been a go to resource for me, and I deleted my account, but you know it never goes away - ever.  (Now there's a digital citizenship lesson.)
Last summer, sitting at the Southwest Iowa Google Summit (#swiags) listening to Eric Sheninger's keynote, the lightbulb finally started to shimmer. He made a comment that we don't have to be connected educators, but why would we close the door on all of the amazing resources and people in social media?  Well, duh? And today, in church, our pastor shared a comment that completely threw the switch.  "We are built to be connected." And again, duh? We are educators and we are people.  We look for connections and relationships, it part of being who we are and as educators, we get a double dose. We are teachers and learners guiding the next generation of teachers and learners. In 140 characters, Twitter provides us with the fuel to keep coming back for more, every student, every day (That's a Dr. Stogdill-ism)
#nebedchat T-Shirt (@shellymowinkel)
I spent the afternoon thinking about my experiences at recent conferences smiling over conversations I have with friends I met through Twitter. At NETA14, Brent Catlett and I staked out a corner and had the most amazing conversation about life, career, and the amazing journey we have found ourselves on. Brent is someone I met first on Twitter and later in person. I will never forget the first time we met in person at NSLA/NLA.  I was so starstruck (seriously - same with Laura Kroll when I met her the first time in person) because he knows so much and it was so exciting to stand next to him and get a hug.  Ann Feldmann and I had a quick chat about the importance of refilling the well and staying inspired.  I remember that conversation when I'm feeling rattled and cranky. And I'm pretty sure I landed at the amazing district I am in today because of the connections I made with other educators through Twitter. 
This is where I could start dropping names but I would surely leave someone out, so I'm not going there. You all know who you are.......
I will say, however, I am so blessed to have met such amazing people over the last several years because of Twitter. My professional journey is completely intertwined with Twitter relationships, #nebedchat, and presenting and attending conferences where I might have spent more time swapping ideas than sitting in a session. I've connected with librarians and authors who are embedded in who I am professionally. They are my friends. We cheer each other on when things go well, and offer our support when things get really, really dark. I am a better person and educator because my view is wider and larger than my building, my district, and my profession. And for the record, most of my really good ideas come from Twitter at 3 a.m.
So there's my answer to the question, Why Twitter? ..... Why Not? 
"If you are the smartest one in the room, you need a bigger room. That's Twitter." -- Paula White, elementary gifted resources teacher, Charlottesville, Virginia
"Alone we are smart, together we are brilliant. Twitter helps us do that." -- Steven Anderson, educator, Winston-Salem, North Carolina