Tomorrow I report for teacher in-service and I can't wait. I have really enjoyed my summer and feel that I not only had time to unwind and enjoy time with my bride and little girl but grow as a teacher. I don't know if I've ever learned as much in previous summers. Tomorrow I am sharing with my colleagues the practical ways to grow as a professional. Here is my Google presentation: http://tinyurl.com/nxdqn4f. I'm focusing on the uses of Twitter and blogging. I am amazed by how many teachers, principals, and other ed. people are using theses means to share and discuss ideas. I know for some using either of these seem daunting and time consuming. As I have become a frequent user of Twitter I have found these helpful hints along with what is in my presentation keep me from getting overwhelmed.
1.) Don't follow everyone! (Following too many people overwhelms your Twitterfeed and you can't keep up with everyone's comments, ideas, or links. I try to keep under 100. Sorry to some who I may unfollow for lack of tweets or relevance to what I want to read about.)
2.) Find key leaders in what you care about! (This can be sports, religion, business, education, or local news. I'm a Gamecock fan so I follow a couple of local news guys who give specific info. on the teams. For news I follow my local paper and then CNN for any nat'l, int'l stories. Being a Christian, my pastor, @dicklincoln, @JohnPiper, and @AndyStanley are three men I respect a lot and value their insights. Lastly, on the education front I have a few local friends I follow @MrRichardsAP and then have several national folks that I enjoy learning from them. To use Twitter effectively, be selective with what you want to follow. I made the mistake of not doing that with Facebook and now know information about people I never needed to know.
3.) Follow hashtags (#) discussion groups! Following a hashtag allows you to filter out tweets that are not relevant to you at a specific time. Joining #edchat, #sced, or #sschat will allow you to join other educators who are focused on that topic and want to share ideas and get feedback from others. My teaching has improved because of being a part of these groups.
4.) Don't sweat missing something! You can easily lose your mind trying to read every tweet, especially in a #chat. So many people share their ideas that you can have brain overload. The best thing to do is don't sweat it if you missed someone's tweet about a certain teaching approach. If it's a great idea I'm sure someone "retweeted" it and thankfully lots of people are doing innovative work in their classrooms so someone else will have a tweet that is relevant to what you're wanting to do.
I'll share more reflections in the days to come on our initial work for this school year and how I plan to start the year getting to know my new students. Always do your best!