Monday, September 6, 2010

How Twitter is helping me professionally

I used to wonder what purpose Twitter could serve.  I just could not wrap my head around it.  I will be honest, I signed for more leisurely reasons.  As a proud Canadian hockey fan, I realized that there were a lot of updates coming via twitter.  On July 1st every year, the Free Agent season begins and I usually follow that quite closely. Twitter was giving me up to the second updates about the signings and the rumours that were out there.  This was my true reason for signing up.  As the Free Agent Frenzy started to die down and I was getting a little bored,  I started to look up a few colleagues and read some of their postings.  This is when I realized the potential.

I did start off as a lurker, looking at blogs and opening up articles that were suggested by colleagues. Reading suggested links and blogs I began to see some of the power.  As I lurked further I discovered more people to follow, and I discovered more amazing people from my district.  I have always felt that I work for an amazing district, but the opportunity to connect with teachers that I have never met, and might never have known about, is fantastic.  Wow were my eyes ever oping up to the education world outside of my building and district.

The other part that I am loving is connecting with teachers and administrators from around Canada, the US and other parts around the world.  Every once in a while I get caught up in the microcosm of my school and my district and am unaware of what is happening.  The beauty of this is that I now have contacts about libraries, student services, French Immersion, adminstration and so on.  There is a good chance that if I need an answer, I will find it faster through Twitter than Google.  I have better ways of finding great articles to read and share with my staff.  I have been globally connected to an amazing group of people who share my passions, thoughts and struggles.  I am learning from others who have a different insight, have different struggles and are just flat out brilliant in their ability to synthesize information.

There are a few great Henry Ford quotes which come to mind
1) Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
2) Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.
3) Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently
4) If I should really want to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer any question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me, why I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require? 

This is what Twitter represents.  The fourth one is a bit harsh, but to me it represents that I do not have to know everything, but I probably know enough people that someone will have the answer.  At the push of a button I am able to send out my questions to thousands of educators in a microsecond. 

I now follow a great group of parents, teachers, principals from my district, my province, my country, my continent and my world.  They all have a vested interest in creating the best learning opportunities for our students.  I am more aware of issues that they are facing, that other teachers are facing. Through this process I have greatly increased my professional reading and I feel that I will be a better leader in my school as a result.  It is not just reading the initial posting of the blogs but also the discussion, differing view points and insight. 

As I get more versed in the Twitterverse I am finding even more fantastic blogs, articles and videos. The discovery of hash tags has greatly expanded my universe.  Twitter is helping me grow as a professional.  It is also doing a great job of keeping me up to the minute in following the Vancouver Canucks and the NHL.


  1. Hi Remy,
    I have found that the Principal class in Australia is probably under represented on Twitter and other emerging techologies. I suggested to my Principal that I present on the uses of such things at an upcoming Principal conference. She was not convinced that it would be worth while. I directed her to your post and she is now suggesting to the organisers that I go ahead with the presentation. Your experience was very similar to mine (Substitute hockey for Australian football). I think most people start off sceptical with twitter, but its power soon wins you over.
    Thanks for the post.

  2. Thanks for the comment, I am still surprised at my learning curve because of Twitter.

  3. Remi,
    Great thoughts. Your quote "Every once in a while I get caught up in the microcosm of my school and my district and am unaware of what is happening" is exactly what was happening with me.

    And for the record I follow my mighty Texas Aggies with a passion on twitter so I know how you feel about twitter and the Canucks.

    PLN plus sports fix!


  4. Hey Remi,

    I just write a post to the same effect. I hadn't seen yours but it was great to hear about another administrator having the same experience. I am now considering how to open up my teachers to Twitter and social media as a means to enhance their learning and that of their students.

    Thanks for sharing!


  5. Thanks Ian and Matt. I am also looking at encouraging my staff to open up to Twitter and its possibilities.