Over the past two and a half days, I have had the chance to engage in meaningful conversation with other heads of school from around the country at the Elementary School Heads Association (ESHA) Conference in Washington, D.C. At Summit, we call these kinds of conversations “thinking partnerships”—with each participant listening carefully and responding thoughtfully, always—in Stephen Covey’s powerful dictum—“seek[ing] first to understand, then to be understood.”
No question about it: Face-to-face dialogue, with the inevitable give & take and ebb & flow of personal contact, both renews the soul and enlivens the mind.
But what about the other 363 days when I am not attending the ESHA Conference with colleagues? How do I continue conversations with colleagues near and far? How do I deepen and ignite conversations? How do I draw others into conversation and leverage them as the skilled, wise thinking partners they are—or could be were I to “connect” with them more often?
One option is to join Twitter. Now, I’ve had a Twitter identity for over a year, and up to today have not leveraged it. Truth is I’ve been missing an important opportunity.
In attending a session this morning on the use of social media in schools, I gained a window into the utility and power of Twitter. During the social media session, I learned about a one-minute video that explores the importance of Twitter for educators. But as I sat down to write this entry, I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name of the video or how to locate it. So, after a fruitless on-line search, I posted my first tweet in over a year:
“Anyone familiar with the 1 minute video on why educators should use Twitter? I've heard of it but don't know where to find it. . .”
While I’ve yet to hear from anyone with url information on the video, a handful of followers have sent me links to all kinds of other sources on the topic of leveraging Twitter in teaching and learning. For example, these links are well worth pursuing:
• Carol Cooper-Taylor’s 50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Education
• Paul Boag’s 8 Useful Tips to Become Successful with Twitter
• Twitter for Beginners
• A Teacher’s Guide to Twitter
• Darren Rowse’s How to Use Twitter – Tips for Bloggers
The really amazing part of my first tweet in over a year, however, was this: as a result of scanning for responses to my tweet, I discovered a number of interesting, compelling and even inspiring tweets, including:
• Information on a live webcast of writer and researcher Lucy Calkins’ webcast discussion on literacy
• A link to the national gallery of writing and a related ning
• An invitation to a ning (on-line network of folks with common interests) that focuses on teaching and learning in independent schools.
+ A brilliant blog piece by Larry Cuban entitled “Deja Vu All Over Again: Individualized Reading Resurfaces as Reading Workshop”
In short, in reaching out to a small (but growing!) group of folks for support, I stepped into a rich, diverse and ongoing conversation about teaching and learning beyond my campus, city and state. In just a few minutes, I was able to engage in a much larger conversation, connecting with issues and opportunities beyond the four walls of my school, related to the work to which we are committed as educators.
The sessions at the Elementary School Heads Association Conference over the past two and half days have been energizing and renewing. But when I’m not able to travel--or even leave campus--one viable source of meaningful conversation and professional development can begin with a trip to Twitter.
Post Script (October 23, 2009)
Here is the video that prompted my original tweet--and, eventually, led to this post.
1 day ago