Saturday, May 23, 2015

Celebrating My 1 Year Anniversary on Twitter...Oh, The Changes in Me!

This week marks my 1-year anniversary on Twitter! During the summer of 2011, I set up an account. That was it. About a year later, I attended a conference where @adambellow was a keynote speaker. I was on cloud nine to meet him in person and to learn from him. My first and only tweet went to him to say, "Thank You". I was shocked that he responded! I wasn't sure how to respond via a tweet, and so I don't think I did. Adam and I have laughed about that since, and I consider him a real friend. My use of Twitter died until last May.

I absolutely would not be on Twitter without the support of my #edmodochat PLN. There are MANY people that helped me learn but I really owe a shout out to @wkrakower @usabbs @place_s @sandramc59 @ktbkr4 @EatonSarah85 @Mr_Bruder @MrsLMWoods @joannavrteaches @elissamalispina @TheOwl3 @KatieAnn_76 @HCPSTinyTech @plnaugle @VivieneTuckerman @sarahdateechur that really took me under their wing. I'm probably missing some people, and I apologize. Unlike a lot of people, I joined Twitter already having a strong PLN that helped me to feel welcome and valued. It made being in #edmodochat a highlight of every week and helped me to connect to other people. I'm always a person to jump in when I start something and jump in, I did! I think I jumped into about every educational chat on Twitter during June when school got out. I was fearless, had nothing to lose, and everything to gain! I didn't know what I was doing, but that didn't seem to matter. Everyone was kind, and I continued to connect with the most amazing people in education!

After about a month of learning some of the ins and outs of Twitter, my #edmodochat colleagues helped me to learn how to moderate #edmodochat. Billy Krakower and Bobby Brian Lewis were always there to support me and even took the time to send me a quick video tutorial or explanation on Edmodo. Even though the Edmodo Support Ambassadors took turns to moderate, it felt like there were 6-7 moderators for each chat because everyone helped welcome, RT, and interact with people. I learned a lot!

But this year has been much more than learning to tweet!

Being a connected educator via Twitter opened doors to opportunity! It opened my mind to ideas! It connected me to experts, authors, specialists, administrators, and teachers in every subject and grade level not only in the United States but around the world!

My class benefitted from my connectedness and participated in Dot Day, Global School Play Day, Genius Hour, Making, Global Read Aloud, Skyping, and a host of other special days and activities. The list doesn't include all of the tweaks and changes that I made to my instructional practices due to my conversations on Twitter, Voxer, and Google Hang-outs. 

Opportunities that came directly because of being connected on Twitter:
  • P is for Pirate:  I'm so grateful to Dave and Shelley Burgess @daveburgess @burgess_shelley for inviting me to participate in writing a little tweet for their book. I was a complete newbie, no one knew me, and they took a chance on me. I didn't really understand the scope of their project and there's a grammar mistake in my 140 characters (little embarrassing) but I'm extremely delighted that I was able to participate. But, my greatest delight is that I know and have connected with the other amazing educators in the book. It's a treasure for so many reasons!
  • BAM Radio #edchat:  Wow, what an opportunity to chat with Tom Whitby @tomwhitby and Nancy Blair @blairteach! Priceless!
  • Bammy Award Nominee:  The most surprising thing to me this year is that people who I've never met, look to me as a leader.  My feelings about this are a topic for another post. I know that I don't stand a chance to make the top five people to be considered for the award. But that doesn't matter! I feel like a winner already!!! I expect every person I nominated to be considered for the Bammy. The people that aren't connected via social media most likely have a lesser chance but they kept up with the "big dawgs" and I couldn't be prouder! Here are the people that I nominated: Paul Solarz @paulsolarz, Sarah Thomas @sarahdateechur, Don Wettrick @DonWettrick, Kim Gibson @ogdengirl, Dr. Patrice Johnson, Stephanie Johnson (parent), Dr. Bruce Barker, Dr. Todd Whitaker @toddwhitaker, Bobby Brian Lewis @usabbs, Rik Rowe @WHSRowe, Bethany Hill @bethhill2829 Nira Dale @mrsdale_FCS *I wrote up the nomination for Beth but for some reason couldn't get my account to work that morning so her nomination was submitted from one of my teammates. :) I also voted/wrote about 60 other reviews. Whew! :) I am tickled pink that Bobby Brian Lewis thought enough of me to nominate me and that so many others took the time to add such kind words. It's truly humbling!  The caliber of people in each category is AMAZING. For Elementary Teacher of the Year, I think every teacher is their state's teacher of the year and they all have a LONG list of accomplishments and recognitions. I'm honored to be in their company especially because I don't have that long list of personal accomplishments and titles. Having the Bammy Award "stamp" is pretty cool! 
  • People! I have the most amazing group of people surrounding me! I cannot say this enough! I've connected with like-minded people that inspire, challenge, support, question, and stir my passion for teaching every day! If I'd only known, I would have connected via Twitter years ago! But maybe it wasn't my time. Maybe for me, I had to connect with the awesome educators on Edmodo first in order for me to appreciate Twitter. Regardless, I've grown!

Changes in Me:
  • I have found like-minded people. I'm not so concerned about what others think about me. I can dream, try things out, fail, dress-up, act weird, and think out of the box without being so self-conscious.
  • I'm discovering the leadership abilities in me that others have seen in me my whole life. Titles and positions have less meaning to me. We are all learners.
  • My faith in teaching is restored. There was a time there where I'd hear the phrase, "There are so many great teachers out there!" but I didn't see it or believe it. This sounds egotistical, but not meant to be. I just didn't see innovation and high student engagement around me. There were exceptions of course, but for the most part I saw mediocre teaching and learning. Maybe it was because I rarely, if ever, had the chance to see in other classrooms. Twitter opens a whole new world of innovative, highly motivated, educators. It's refreshing! It's challenging me to "up my game".
  •  I'm gaining confidence in the tech world because I know that at any time I need help; I have it. I don't have to do things alone anymore. I have access to experts!
  • Everyone needs a mentor. I have found more than one. Not only do I have the most amazing PLN, but my mentors (especially in leadership) inspire me and teach me by sharing their experiences and expertise. I'm gaining confidence (not there yet) that I could take on leadership roles.  
  • I'm gaining confidence in being more transparent and being public. 
  • The bottom line is that I've gained confidence in myself this last year. This is a little strange to say because I've always been a pretty confident person especially when it comes to teaching. But the last five years or so, have brought so much change and uncertainty! I'm living in a constant state of not knowing if something will work. I think it's shaken my confidence. I'm proud to say that I've pushed on, moved forward, despite the fear and challenges! 
  • I've developed a real passion for technology! It's part of me now. I've driven and motivated to FIND A WAY to get devices into my classroom so that I can use tech at the point of instruction. I just want to teach! I don't want to be hunting down extra lab or iPad time. I've been patient while I've been learning. BUT, I'm ready now! I'm restless! It's time to move on! I have much more to learn! I'm willing! I need the tech support. 
 Congratulations to me! I jumped in and stuck with it! I can't go back now. Being connected on Twitter, Voxer, Edmodo, etc. is just part of who I am!

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