“Is anyone on Twitter in here?”
This is the question that rang out from my colleague Anthony Alexander’s (@EB_CoachA), mouth at our elementary physical education staff meeting. There were about twelve of us there and maybe two hands went up. “Do any of you use Twitter for professional development?” was the next question. The hands went down. What is he talking about?
My hand was not raised. I had chalked up Twitter to a way of stalking celebrities, athletes, and famous people and seeing what they were doing on a daily basis. Who they were with, what they ate, where they partied, etc. I was not interested.
“Do you use Twitter for professional development?”
I was intrigued by this next question. Was that true, that twitter was a source for professional development? I was about to find out. I asked him about it after the meeting and I could sense the excitement brewing within him as he began to tell me about all the educators that he was connecting with around the state and country via Twitter. He shared some of the things that he was learning and how he literally had professional development (PD) at the tips of his fingertips 24/7. I realized that this was something that I needed to check out for myself and that became the first step into a whole new world for me. I was a convert. It would be a life changing event for me.
So I took the dive and signed up for Twitter. What followed was a whirlwind of activity. Tweets, chats, notifications, Oh my! I began to find and connect with other PE professional from around the country and then it extended to Canada, China, and Australia. At first, it was simply reading what people were writing and trying to figure out the unique language associated with Twitter. I had lots of questions. How could you get a message across in only 150 characters? How would anyone even read what I tweeted. Did it matter what I wrote? Would I even be able to contribute to the conversation that was going on?
At this point I was considered a lurker. I was consuming and taking in information without sharing back. I pushed out a few Tweets but they were mostly the sort of status updates I would later post on Facebook. I wanted to be a part of the conversation and found out that the best way to do that was to respond to what other people were tweeting out.
I jumped in and got started. The first thing I did was retweet an awesome visual from Andy Vasily (@andyvasily). I participated in my first #pechat with Amanda Stanec (@movelivelearn). Posted my first pictures of what I was teaching in my classroom. I began to broaden my horizons and participated in another chat for educators called #satchat. In this chat I was introduced to educators from all different subject areas focusing on specific questions that were given by the moderator.
I was overwhelmed by the people I was connecting with and the immense amount of information that I was able to gather via Twitter. My professional growth had been given a good stiff shot in the arm. Just as I felt I was beginning to get comfortable with Twitter, I received a tweet from JustinSchleider (@schleiderjustin) asking me if I wanted to get on Voxer? What is voxer? We will speak about that next time!
About the Author: Erik Myer (@erik_myer) is an elementary PE teacher at Warnsdorfer Elementary School in East Brunswick, NJ. He’s been teaching PE for 18 years.