I remember a couple of colleagues trying to convince me Twitter offered some great opportunities for professional growth. At the time, I simply did not have time to add another thing to my plate. Now that I actively use it, I can say honestly, best PD ever!
Initially, my intent was to look for technology ideas and learn more about Standards Bases Grading, but as twitter led me to teacher blogs, I quickly realized the wealth of math resources and what great impact they could have on improving my classroom. Why do people freely share all these amazing ideas? Because they value collaboration and wholeheartedly believe our best resources as teachers are other teachers. Hands down.
I had been in a rut, but reading tweets/posts re-energized me! It was a bit overwhelming finding sooooooo many wonderful lesson ideas. But I was excited each day as I entered my classroom, ready to try something new!
My early experiences of tweeting were actually retweets. I began sharing blog posts that I found helpful. I ‘listened’ to several conversations of a core group of math teachers. Interesting. When they wanted to rework a lesson, they shared the idea and others offered feedback. When they had an issue in their classroom, others offered advice on how they handled similar situations. When they needed an idea of how to approach a specific standard, well, ask and ye shall receive. The collaboration was professional development at its best.
I remember feeling intimidated, overwhelmed, even intrusive. I wanted to participate but by the time I thought out and typed my tweet, I was way behind the convo. 🙂 These were ‘The Rockstars’ of math teachers, I could never keep up with them. Wow. They had it all together, amazing ideas, solid, effective techniques. But I believe @MarshaFoshee said it best in this post.
“Create a vision of what you want…
I have been a member of the MTBoS for a year. When I first began lurking on Twitter last summer, I was in search of a magic fix. I thought that the teachers on there had this teaching thing all figured out and that I would study their greatness and emulate it. Fast forward a year and I realize that my initial feelings about this group of teachers was misguided. They don’t have it all figured out yet. They just work steadily to improve. “
My advice to newbies to MTBoS…
1. Update your bio to indicate you are a math teacher or at least your reason for tweeting. If I don’t realize you are a teacher, I will likely not follow you. I have even blocked a few I thought were spam, only to realize I was mistaken later.
2. Take a few minutes to learn the basics so you aren’t completely overwhelmed. I found some good resources in @web20classroom’s livebinder An Educator’s Guide to Twitter. For example, what’s a hashtag, how to properly retweet, etc.
3. Find a chat that interests you and show up. Here is a list, just a place to start/see all that is available. If you have a question, ask it, if you have something to add, join in! The least intimidating way for me to participate in the beginning was book chats. I could read along and share my thoughts with others who had a common interest.
My first chat was #lit4math last summer. This post archives our chats on Literacy to Improve Mathematical Instruction. Others #75facts, Keeley & Tobey, #makthinkvis, Richhart et al. Currently, #tlapmath Teach Like a Pirate with focus on math, Dave Burgess, #5pracs 5 Practices to Orchestrate Productive Mathematical Discussions, Stein & Smith.
4. Start a blog, if there is a challenge, join in. #made4math was an idea @druinok began last summer, an opportunity for teachers to blog about ideas for their math classrooms-organizational tips, lesson ideas, learning tasks, procedures, items created. There was even a New Blogger iniative organized by @samjshah to challenge newbies to jump in and write/reflect/create/share.
5. Realize you will miss out on some things. And that’s okay. You cannot keep up with all of it all of the time on Twitter (or at least I can’t) It made me crazy to realize I had missed out on a great convo, but for every one you miss, you’ll be a part of another 20!
Twitter helps me to step outside my comfort zone, finding new, better ways of reaching my students. It has fed my desire to be a lifelong learner and enabled me to develop a true PLN of folks I admire, trust and look forward to meeting on Twitter. It has built my confidence as a teacher-I am not afraid to learn from others and ask for help. #MTBoS is filled with passionate educators who care about their students, who are enthusiastic about the math, who encourage and challenge you to become better.
Just as our own students, when they are engaged, actively learning, it is likely they will gain more.
Pam Wilson, NBCT
5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions, Smith & Stein
Teach Like a Pirate, Dave Burgess
From Ashes to Honor, Loree Lough