Some people claim that Twitter doesn't promote authentic collaboration or effective PLNs, that it can be exclusive and doesn't account for the fantastic things teachers who are not on Twitter are accomplishing, and that it can be used to create a digital facade of what effective teaching looks like when in reality these teachers are not achieving the meaningful learning in their classrooms that they portray online.
I don't think that all teachers need to be on Twitter to prove that they are professionally developing, collaborating, and using relevant pedagogy. Effective teachers are doing this anyways. If Twitter is a useful means for this in your practice, use it. If not, don't. Regardless of your medium, continue to find ways to best serve your practice that promote growth, self-reflection, and student-centred teaching methods.
For me, Twitter works. It is a time-efficient way to network with like-minded educators. Through Twitter, I have had opportunities to engage in face-to-face conversations with teachers who I otherwise might not have connected with. As a new teacher, I see Twitter as being a place where I can authentically add to the conversations out there in a way where my voice is heard but not unnecessarily exalted or discounted on account of my experience. Using this medium, I believe I can meaningfully contribute to and learn from the professional development of others.
I exercise critical-thinking in my use of Twitter and I follow people I respect. This constantly exposes me to a variety of thoughts, articles, and relevant ideas for my practice, which I may not have heard about otherwise. I like that I can be on Twitter daily, getting the headlines, just like one does when reading the news, and clicking on the articles of interest. When I post to Twitter, you can assume that I have read a handful of other articles before choosing that one to tweet. I don't post everything I read; I post what I believe will be valuable for my colleagues or at least what was valuable for my own growth.
I don't expect Twitter to replace my in-person collaboration. I won't allow Twitter to interfere with my family time or personal boundaries around work. I don't rely exclusively on Twitter to gain pedagogical insights. I don't take everything I read on Twitter at face value and assume that everyone tweeting is a "superstar" educator. After all, this is social media. It's never going to be a perfect picture.
Just because I am a teacher who uses Twitter, please don't assume I misuse it or make it out to be anything more than it is.
Articles that Add to this Conversation:
Meeting Students Where They Are: Why Teachers Should Try Twitter
In this ASCD article, William M. Ferriter identifies Twitter as a differentiated approach to professional development.
Twitter and Canadian Educators
I believe Max Cooke, writing for the Canadian Education Association, sums up the conversation neatly by saying, "At their best, EduTweeters are adeptly leveraging Twitter to brand themselves, to reinvent teacher [professional development], and perhaps to accelerate the transformation of our Canadian education systems."
The Always Controversial RT
Sheila Stewart's post spoke to me as I was starting to develop my own intentions for using Twitter, especially as a medium for promoting my own blog.
When the "Media" Takes a Back Seat to the "Social"
John Bevacqua speaks to creating a healthy balance in one's use of Twitter, though he recognizes the benefits of being connected online.
What Twitter Shortcomings?
Tom Whitby argues that Twitter brings collaboration and transparency between teachers. He addresses the critics by reminding them that because Twitter is a form of Social Media, we should not condemn the self-promoting aspects it brings with it. The bad doesn't outweigh the good, and he doesn't seem to think the "bad" in this case is all that bad in the first place.
How To Get Better and Not Be Irrelevant
Doug Peterson reminds readers that a great aspect of Twitter is how it helps us stay relevant and be constantly pursuing professional development.
"Regardless of your medium, continue to find ways to best serve your practice that promote growth, self-reflection, and student-centred teaching methods."