At first, you may want to lurk a little, and that's okay! Everyone started that way. But you won't experience the benefits of being a connected educator until you begin to interact with other educators. I often hear-
But, I Have Nothing To Contribute!
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Think about what you've accomplished so far. You've moved out of your comfort zone and are making an effort to connect and learn with/from other educators. It's a sign that you're willing to try something new. You want to improve your practice for the sake of the kids and/or teachers that you work with every day. Professionals don't wait for PD; they take the initiative to learn and grow both professionally and personally. They model life long learning. You've started on a wonderful journey.
You've joined a learning community. There are no titles, positions, or a traditional hierarchy. Superintendents, teachers, administrators, parents, board members, business leaders, and others are learning alongside each other. Every contribution is valuable! The collective thinking of the group challenges, encourages, asks better questions, is supportive, and collaborative.
Your life experiences are rich. You have a lot to offer! Start interacting with others by asking a question, or retweeting (RT) a resource/comment that you think others would enjoy. Follow those people that you find interesting. Engage in a side conversation. Don't worry about reading all of the tweets during a chat. The moderator will usually send out a link with all of the tweets that you can read later.
You may not always agree with what is being said during a chat. That's okay! Share your point of view, ask for clarification, and ask thought- provoking questions. Your courageous leadership will push people's thinking and inspire a richer discussion. Most people want to hear other perspectives.
Continue to connect with people that inspire you, that share resources, and that support you. Don't worry about the number of followers you have or who is following you. Build your PLN (personal/professional learning network) with those with whom you enjoy learning. Building relationships is far more important than numbers.
But, I've come to realize that every time I've overcome a fear, I've experienced incredible growth.
I want to keep growing!
And because I want to keep growing, I will continue to battle those feelings of being inadequate, that creep up now and then, at bay.
The truth is, my thinking has shifted. Like so many others, I started off using Twitter asking, "How can I benefit?" But what's happened over the last couple of years is that I'm continually asking myself, "How can I benefit others?" My answer to that question is to help them become connected educators!
You see, I have grown so much since my very first tweet. And since then, I've continued growing by being in Voxer groups, attending edcamps, going to conferences, reading blogs/blogging and meeting my PLN in person. I can't explain in words how much I've personally/professionally grown. It's something you will have to experience for yourself. I can say that I've learned more about how to improve my practice in the last couple of years than I had previously learned during any PD or college course. Being a connected educator is helping me to become a better teacher, leader, and person.
So in the words of Dr. Seuss-
"Think left and think right and think low and think high.
Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!"
You have a contribution to make to our profession.