- To find blog posts that people share that I can read. Blog posts allow teachers to go into more depth about something than twitter (due to the character limitations), but twitter is an excellent place to share blog posts. I also blog, which I have found to be an excellent source of PD in its own right, as it makes me think in a lot of depth about what I want to say. My personal blog is here, and over the last year I have been promoting staff at my school to try blogging on our T&L Blog. These include posts from me on readings I have done, and posts from each of our departments on something related to T&L. Reading (and writing) blog posts is the biggest part of my own personal PD.
- To engage is edchats. There are lots of these for various aspects of education. There are subject specific ones (for example #mathsCPDchat), location specific ones (there is a #teachUAEchat for example, and setting up a Latin America one would be something I would be interested in), role specific ones (such as #SLTchat) and others related to education (such as #LrnSicChat which looks at the science of learning). These are scheduled events, usually weekly, and last either 1 hour or 30 minutes. During that time there is a host who usually leads a discussion on one or several themes or questions. People can respond with their thoughts and/or what they do in the classroom.
- To find and share resources for teaching Maths. If I am looking for a good resource for a particular topic, I can ask my department of 13 people, AND I can ask twitter. This puts me in contact with thousands of other Maths teachers, and rarely do they disappoint. When I create something, I can share it with others as well, and this will either help others or get me some feedback to improve the resource for the future.
For me twitter is a source of professional development in my pocket. I probably spend about an hour a day on twitter, reading and engaging with other teachers from around the world. The three ways that I use twitter are:
I have been using twitter for over 5 years now, and in that time I have become acquainted with people I have never met, and developed a professional dialogue with them. I have also been able to engage with edu-celebrities (such as Dylan Wiliam, Jo Boaler and Tom Bennett). I have been able to chat with the authors of books I have read (such as Doug Lemov, Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson, Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby) and talk to experts in the field of cognitive science, which is my current area of interest (such as Dan Willingham and Dr Yana Weinstein).
My approach to teaching and my philosophy of education has been shaped by these conversations, and has changed quite dramatically over the last few years, largely because of the conversations I have had through twitter, and the blogs I have read that I have found on twitter. It is also through twitter that I find links to many current educational research articles, and recommendations for books to purchase for our CPD Library.
I also use these in my role as T&L Coordinator, as I share blog posts that I find with all staff (through the T&L Newsletter I put together roughly once a month), and when thinking about developments for our own CPD programme, as well as consulting our staff, I can consult with many others with lots of different experiences. This is invaluable in helping me get my head around my plans and ideas.
For the first couple of years, my use of twitter was very one sided: I sat and watched, reading stuff and using ideas. But it was not until I started to truly engage, and participate in the discussions and sharing that I started to get more out of it. I am still a relatively quiet twitter user, and am sure I could make even more of it.
Below are some other links about twitter for teachers, which are all much more eloquently put together than what I have written here.
My suggestion is to get on twitter, set up a profile, start following some people, reading what they have to say, and then to start getting involved in the conversation as quickly as possible. Remember to keep it professional, and twitter can become your best source of professional development too.
I am a maths teacher looking to share good ideas for use in the classroom, with a current interest in integrating educational research into my practice.