Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Old School Meets New School on Twitter Chat- Find Your PLN

    I love being an educator, old school or new school, I love it all! I even sort of appreciate paperwork, not because I like it really, but it keeps me in check making absolutely sure that I am doing everything I'm supposed to do to help my students achieve their goals. Back when I first started teaching special education, IEP's (Individual Education Plans) were still hand written! Computers were not yet in classrooms! I am old
school with a new school twist! I love being exactly what I am!

I love technology and I love new teachers because I need them so much! They are always kind and don't mind getting this almost oldie, but goody up and going with whatever technology question I have! I'm learning! I love being an oldie too, because in the back of my brain I have a repertoire of  bare bones educational games that work well in a pinch when the technology goes haywire and the planned lesson can't go as planned! The young teachers are sometimes amazed with the old school way, that make we teachers appear  seemingly flawless to our students, when we are really under pressure because our original lesson needs to be tweaked 24/7 due to a technological glitch. The students enjoy the old school activities as well as the new school strategies. Students like all activities that are creative and new, they don't necessarily care if they are high tech or not! 
     There is a place where old school meets new school..it's called Twitter chat! Eight short months ago discovered
Twitter and unknowingly changed my world and improved my teaching! I came upon something completely unexpected, a pln (personal learning network). I have made connections with educators, school administrators, university professors, authors, and experts in every field.
I have encountered amazing people in my network from around the globe. Many have become personal friends. They are from: Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, Nepal, Ireland, Germany, Australia, England, India, Africa, Asia...and America of course, nearly all fifty states! We share ideas and strategies, resources, and collaborate. We debate, discuss our unique educational issues, and exchange our global perspectives. We also, exchange photographs of our pets, our classrooms, our landscapes, and most recently our holiday dinners! I even received a virtual birthday cake from New Zealand and virtual birthday cards from Canada and the United States!  I have learned that each person in  my pln brings something new to the table even if it is a different perspective or a virtual casserole (Pun intended!)!
   My pln has energized me and helped me to become a modern educator! I know way more than I did a year ago about how to reach my students! I have even met students who have engaged ideas with my students through postal mail, Twitter, and Skype! Now, I'm on a one teacher mission to get other educators or those in related fields involved! As far as I know, I'm the only person in my district that takes part in Twitter "Ed-chats". I go to school each day bursting with excitement to share my latest discoveries in education with my colleagues. Mostly, they are overworked and tired and without ever experiencing an Ed-chat, it sounds too much like "more work"! It's not more work though. It almost creates less work because chats put our current teaching practices into focus and sometimes these current practices are enhanced or seen in a new way that in the end give value to us and our students! Ed-chats are like a social gathering with people who are like- minded and actually understand what you are saying. I come home from work every day and try to share a story that I think is amazing with my family. I love my family dearly, but often get an, "Uh-huh" or "sounds good", with an enthusiastic tail wag from my dog, who really just wants a belly rub! I can't blame them, teaching isn't their "thing", it's my thing! This is why Ed-chats are so important and fun! We get each other! We need each other! We are all on the same page!
    As for joining Ed-chats, be not afraid! Jump in! Everyone is always nice and always helpful. You can find a list of ed-chats at @http://bit.ly/officialchatlist.  There is a chat for everybody! I've joined chats that I'm not "certified" for and have always been asked to stay for my view on the topic! There is even a chat for new people: #Nt2T . I still frequent this chat because I consider myself a newbie.  I learn
something new every time I Ed-chat! One of the best pieces of advice I received was to add a "Tweet Deck" so I did! Then I needed help using my Tweet Deck! However, as much as I like the Tweet Deck, I usually still use my regular Twitter account and notifications to follow an Ed-chat! Remember we are all new at something often, so ask questions! Look at the Official Chat list for times and groups that interest you. To date, I've attended: #Nt2T, #sunchat #edchat #colchat #INZpirED #satchat #mschat #asiaed #txeduchat #lidchat #aussiechat #edtechchat!  This is my beginners list but there are so many more, six pages in fact! Oh, and do not let the (#) hashtag scare you. The hashtag is simply a label of sorts to help you to identify keywords, certain topics, or to help you aid your searchers. When you participate in a chat simply use a hashtag followed by the chat name so that you are automatically routed to that exact chat! The hashtag label can go before or after your comment. Oh and yes, of course I had to ask about this too when I participated in my first chat!
    After a while you will see familiar faces on various chats and before long you will have your own set of Ed-chat friends who will actually invite you to more Ed-chats! These great people will become a big part of your pln.