I began to follow other educators and I found something that was missing in my professional life: Connections. As an elementary school principal in a smaller district it is easy to remain nestled in the comfort of those with whom you work on a daily basis. I must be clear that I work with some phenomenal educators; however, after awhile there is clearly some homogenization of thought and practice that can occur. What I needed was new ideas, new thoughts, new challenges, new practices, new conversations, new CONNECTIONS! Twitter has provided that for me. I am now connected to over 100 educators (quite a small amount compared to some) who allow me to nurture my need for connection and for new and exciting ideas.
Twitter has become my favorite and most effective form of professional development. It is there whenever I have time. I can find just about any topic that I want by typing in a search term or a hashtag and if I have a question, I can pose it to those who follow me and to larger groups through the use of the aforementioned hashtags. The wonderful thing about it is I am getting this PD from experts in the field and by that I mean people just like you and me, practitioners who care enough about the profession to share their knowledge and the resources they have found. What do they ask in return? Only that I do the same.
During my short time using Twitter to develop my PLN, I have connected with some amazing educators who are working to develop a strong network of practitioners in my home state of New Jersey. The hashtag for this group is #njed. I highly recommend following the folks in this group as they are truly committed to being the best teachers and administrators possible. Some handles to follow include: @ischoolleader @NMHS_Principal @sirotiak02 @wkrakower @jerseyteacher @AJBianco @pottsedtech @danielle6849 @davezirk @DrSpikeCook. This is only a few of the people who are sharing amazing things. Check them out and the rest of the #njed contributors. Also, this group has bi-weekly chats at 8:30pm on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month.
I have to say that some of the Twitter contributors that I began following in the beginning truly made the difference in my decision to continue down this road into the Twitter-verse. Some of these include: @l_Hilt @WiscPrincipal @PrincipalJ @shannoninottawa @mcleod @ransomtech @j_Bednar @21stprincipal @stevehargadon @NMHS_Principal @ijukes @Cantiague_Lead @Joe_Mazza. This list is only partial, as well, but anyone wishing to begin a PD journey on Twitter would do well to follow the educators above.
One more thought for an already too long first blog post... Once you engage in this form of professional development, it is hard to see yourself sitting through traditional In-Service days or traditional conferences. I foresee making these events more personalized and taking charge of my own learning. If I go to a national convention, I would get involved to make it more differentiated for those of us who prefer this type of learning. Additionally, I am planning to attend several EdCamp "unconconferences." Next Month, I am going to EdCamp Philly and in July I am attending EdCamp Leadership. These conferences are attendee driven and revolve around the expertise and needs of those at the conference rather than canned programming. I am also working with the #njed folks to bring an EdCamp to our state!
Thank you for reading my blog and completing my arc. Please leave a comment if you are so moved.