Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How we got 76% of our faculty to use twitter for learning...

No matter where your paradigm is, there is no refuting the fact that technology has changed the world of education. There is no question the landscape of teaching and learning is different today than it was 20 years ago, even 10 and fives years ago. More recently the shifts seem to be exponential in nature and social in context. Specifically, social media in all its platforms have lent themselves to many frustrations and benefits among teachers, students, and parents. In some schools, the millennials, digital natives, the iGeneration who currently walk the halls of our schools have been told to put their devices away only to now be told to bring them out as adults (teachers) become more comfortable with approaches such as BYOT and BYOD. I have seen firsthand the frustrations and benefits of both approaches. Teachers can get upset over a student seemingly distracted by a device in class and therefore telling the student to hand over their mobile technology- this of course, is a cause and a reaction to frustration on the part of both parties. On the contrary, I have witnessed joy on both the part of teacher and learner when mobile technology is used to enhance the learning environment and is not only allowed, but also encouraged. As we continue to see the pendulum swing, I predict more smiles, more learning, more positive interactions among teachers and students, and more excitement.

Two years ago, the pendulum of my organization was so far to one side of the edtech argument, that we only had two professionals who used technology to their advantage in terms of professional use (a PLN). I have been privelged to experience the pendulum swing to the other side and now I have a front row seat watching educators integrate technology into every fiber of the day. Teachers incorporate student owned devices into their lessons weekly if not daily, and most of our teachers are now on twitter- the focus of this post. Today, 76% of my faculty is on twitter: and here is the formula for how we gained this amount of participation and support.

1). Modeling- it is important to me that I model best practices. It is also important to me that I cultivate trust. There is great proof that the increasing popularity of PLN's across the educational landscape has proven to be a best practice as educators who participate receive support, encouragement, resources, links, etc. In my opinion, twitter is currently the most powerful tool for this ambition. Furthermore, if I am going to encourage my teachers to do something, I must be able to do what I am asking. This garners trust. I believe the bulk of my faculty now models best practice with one another and also has the propensity to trust one another further too.

2). Training- I have been intentional in giving one-on-one trainings to many of my teachers who have expressed interest in growing more in terms of edtech. In addition, there have been a handful of faculty wide trainings in which teachers could select areas to grow. Many, not most, teachers have chosen to be trained in the area of twitter in education and the use of a PLN.

3). Patience- The phrase, "turn the ship slowly," has been a contstant reminder for me as I have been a school leader. For the past two years, I have modeled and trained teachers. I have not mandated any teacher to subscribe to twitter. I have not required it. I have not forced it down the throat of anyprofessional. I have only encouraged. I have taught, exhorted, and passionately lived out a growth mindset in the form of a PLN via twitter. This approach points back to the first step in which trust is a factor. We trust those who have our best interest in mind. We do not necesarrily trust those who place their own selfish motives in front of others. I do not seek to grow a faculty of tweeters merely for my name sake. I seek this because I have seen what it can do for professionals and I want my fantastic teachers to experience the same. It appears as though most of them are now experiencing this on a daily basis. This supports the old adage, "good things come to those who wait."

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