Professional networking through Twitter

I can’t believe it was May when I last posted. Where has this year gone? Teaching seems to be a conduit for time travelling at warp speed- everything is measured in weeks, terms, semesters, years…before you know it, you’re another year older and all of a sudden you’ve got yet another new batch of little faces looking at you expectantly, waiting for you to work your magic on them.

This year for me has been one of huge growth and opportunity. I have been given the world of education on a platter and I have lapped up as much as I could hold. By this I mean I’ve had so many professional learning opportunities in so many different areas: technology, literacy, leadership, special needs, 21st century learning design… the list goes on. Yet the more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know and how much more I have to learn! The more I realise that I have to learn, the more I desperately want to learn! Through making some amazing friends at the Microsoft Partners in Learning forum in Brisbane this year, I’ve woken up to the benefits of using social media for professional networking.

My favourite by far is Twitter. Here, I meet like minded educators who share fabulous ideas as well as keep a finger on the pulse of the latest trends within education. I follow people that I admire and I have been secretly chuffed when people have chosen to follow me. Half the world is already clued on to what I’ve only just hooked into these past few months, but in a small regional city like Geraldton, the need for Twitter didn’t seem too dire until I worked out what I was missing when I wasn’t a part of it! It is precisely because Geraldton is a small regional city that Twitter is so useful. I have met and chatted with people from all over the world through leads and links on Twitter. I have gained perspectives that come from people doing what I do or, more importantly, what I want to do, which is be a successful educator that makes a difference.

All it takes is to start an account and find someone that you admire within your field. Start following them and then look at who they follow. You might want to follow a few of those people too. Before long, you’ll come across more and more people that you can start following. You start paying attention to who is cued into Twitter at different professional learning opportunities and use this as a chance to connect and learn from people within these contexts. A few well placed tweets to the right people puts your name out in the public arena as an educator who is connected to the world and is interested in current trends. You also become aware of who are the big players within the profession through what they tweet about and where. Twitter is a means to gain access to their world and make yourself known to them.

A suggestion for using Twitter for professional networking: don’t mix personal and professional contexts. Tweets can be seen by anyone, including potential employers. It’s not a good look to Tweet about your fabulous Global Education project on one day and your stinking hangover in another (for example!). I keep Twitter for work and I have a Facebook account for my personal life that is accessed only by my close friends and family. It is on Facebook that I can control my privacy and who sees what. It is on Facebook that I post pictures of my children, my holidays, my friends. On Twitter I shout out my successes within the classroom and praise the ideas and contributions of those that inspire me. I receive news and participate in anything that can increase my knowledge within this ever-changing profession. I am able to construct the professional image I want to portray on Twitter through omitting most of my personal life from it.

If you haven’t hooked in to Twitter yet, give it a go. Better yet, follow me! @eduexhange and see who I follow.

Advertisements
Professional networking through Twitter

It’s all about the learning…

Here in Australia we’ve started a new curriculum that links the states and territories for the first time. We as teachers are all required to cover English, Mathematics, History and Science (among other learning areas) as well as the cross curricular priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History and Cultures,  Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia and Sustainability. Of course these are all essential to promote literate, numerate students with a sense of social conscience and place within a global community. However, it is the general capabilities of our curriculum that are something to get excited about.

It is here that our curriculum attempts to align an education system that is in love with chalk and talk, standardized testing and outdated technology with the holy grail of 21st Century Learning practices.  The general capabilities of Information and Communication Technology, Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding and Intercultural Understanding all outline skills and essential practices that need to be woven throughout the curriculum to create lifelong learners that are prepared to survive and thrive within a 21st century world. Despite all that these general capabilities cover, they are nothing but words on a page unless they are embraced within the spirit of 21st Century Learning Practices.

What is 21st Century Learning?

The 21st Century Learning model aims to prepare students for the world that they will graduate into. What will that world look like? No one can honestly say! The last thirty years has seen vast amounts of change in almost every dimension of our lives and we will continue to see change. We live in a technology and media-saturated world where news is instant and we are more globally connected than any other time. The industrial model of teaching and learning, the teacher centered, chalk and talk method is simply too slow for the learners of today. These kids were born into a digital world  where multi-tasking is the norm and flat out is the only speed they know.

So what do we do? We as educators need to prepare students to cope with change, to be creative, innovative and critical thinkers that have the ability to problem solve and work comfortably within a truly global community. We do this by exposing them to the real world using relevant and real life examples. We give them opportunities to collaborate with peers from around the world. Rather than a textbook approach, students should be encouraged to discover using the technologies they are so comfortable with.

The ‘teacher knows all’ achetype that led to reams of paper wasted from copying from the board is now shattered by the fact that kids of today often know more than we do about the use of technology in particular. They are fearless learners, they have no qualms about experimenting, guessing, checking, making mistakes and moving on. They love creating, collaborating and discovering for themselves. They love sharing their knowledge and teaching others. Our greatest battle as their ‘teachers’ is trying to keep up!

It is vital that we as educators facilitate these invaluable learning experiences for our students.

It’s easy to argue that this fast-paced and digital world is not an ideal way to live, that a slower, simpler, less stressful approach is better. The simple fact is that this is not how the kids of today roll. If I asked a nine year old boy to sit at his desk while I lectured him about the joys of persuasive writing, he would last all of ten minutes before he started looking for other ways to entertain himself. Certainly, students need to be taught skills to be successful both as independent and collaborative learners and there is most definitely a place for rigorous teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy in particular. It is the delivery of this content that needs to change in order to engage our learners so that we can say we’ve done our job, which is help our students to learn and prepare for their futures, whatever they may hold.

http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/

It’s all about the learning…