Sunday, February 14

Why Blog? It was all Twitter's Fault!






Ok... so I have decided to blog. I've been thinking about it for a while. I have commitment issues, so I'm worried I won't be able to maintain it. A funny thing happened on my way to blogging. I discovered Twitter.

Twitter is my new obsession. While enjoying the summer and doing research on Reading Workshop, I thought I would take a look at this whole twitter/tweet thing. Initially, I couldn't figure out why it kept moving. I typed in the word "teacher," and suddenly, I was seeing a number sign (#) along with "17 new tweets since you started searching." Huh? What was happening? So, being the stalwart searcher that I am, I kept looking around. I was eaves-dropping, but no one seemed to mind. No one told me to leave, so I kept watching and reading. To say I was curious would be an understatement. I was ready to tweet in.

The next step was a user name. Do I go with my full name or think of something cute and catchy? I compromised and came up with "Nancy Teaches." (Well, that is who I am and I was amused.) Then, I needed my profile description. This one was easy; I love to learn and I was learning something new. Profile would be short and sweet: "A teacher who loves to learn." A Twitter account was born.

Once I had the account, I needed to start following. I decided to start with familiar names and organizations I recognized. I chose tweeters such as @teachermagazine, @scholastic, @barbarafeldman and @teachersupport. Each day I added a few more that seemed interesting. I kept watching (stalking?), observing, reading and finally took the plunge. I tweeted. I went back through 656 of my tweets and found my first one. I'm embarrassed to admit that I tweeted about my broken MacBook Pro and how much I missed it. Eventually, I figured out how to re-tweet and my posts became a bit more interesting and relevant. For my 100th tweet, I quoted Dwight D. Eisenhower, "Good teachers do not just happen, they are the product of the highest personal motivation." I was developing my twitter confidence or at least, I was less annoying to others. To my surprise, some people decided to follow me. I will forever be grateful to @AAETeachers, @SaveYour Sanity, and the "pity" follow from my beautiful daughter, @SamLE. I discovered, quite accidentally, that the more I tweeted and followed, the more the favor was returned. This was fun.

So my new Twitter addiction led to the short lived ownership of a Blackberry. (I wanted to be connected to Twitter all of the time.) After a few unhappy weeks, I returned it and bought the Droid. I had a blast acquiring the opinions of others as I weighed the pros and cons of both smart phones. To this day whenever I have a question about anything related to technology/computers/smart phones/tweetdeck/hootsuite both @damian613 and @dancallahan come through for me. I feel as though I have my own lifeline.

The funniest thing happened on my way to Twitter happiness, I started to learn. I began to discover the most amazing, passionate, dedicated, committed educators. I felt energized and excited again. Granted, I've always been an enthusiastic teacher, but I often felt alone and had to tone it down around my colleagues. (More on being the only teacher at my school who uses Reading Workshop on a later blog. Boy, do I have a good story for you.) Suddenly, I found myself in thought-provoking, challenging and invigorating conversations about anything from Lexile Levels on books, to teaching strategies vs. using a basal, to snow days. I discovered @Aaron_Eyler (whose amazing writing intimidates me), @angelamaiers (whose blog and work I emmulate), @Donalynbooks (whose expertise and book The Book Whisperer should be required reading for all teachers), @areaderscomm, @thereadingzone, @ReadingCountess, @growupwithboos, @TWRCtankcom to name just a few. I also found @Tomwhitby and The Eudcator’s PLN.

All of these amazing educators have re-lit my spark for not just teaching, but for learning. I feel as excited about teaching as I did so many, many years ago. I currently have a student observer in my classroom who I overwhelm each day with my excitement. I have been meeting with the technology teacher at my school to share my enthusiasm about Twitter. (She thought it was just for people to say what they were eating for dinner.) I had quite a few pre-conceived ideas to change. I’ve tried to express how it invigorates me, and makes everything new again.

Another exciting aspect to my Twitter experience is the domino effect for discovering the blogs of fellow educators. Each day I receive the gift that their blogs provide. I’m a click away from knowledge and the experience and thoughts of my colleagues. I work in a small private school where change is not embraced or sought. My subscriptions to these blogs are a daily treasure. More importantly, I thrive on passing them to others. Twitter provides me with a perfect venue to share.

So, I’m tempted to write more about my new love affair with Twitter, appropriately on Valentine’s Day, but I must get back to Twitter and catch up on what I’ve missed.

Enjoy!
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