nasen’s first learning event saw us finally break the 2,000 followers barrier so this seemed like the ideal time to take a look at how you might tap into the power of Twitter. Unfortunately I wasn’t one of the initial investors who bought shares in the recent stock market float, but you only need look at Twitter’s $24bn stock market debut (the company has yet to turn a profit) to have some idea of the potential the platform is seen to have.
Put simply, those of us who regularly use it often try to persuade our more reluctant friends and colleagues that they are missing out on a world of support, professional development opportunities and networking quite separate from the celebrity world that initially brought Twitter to the fore. I’ve lost count of the number of five-minute Twitter lessons I’ve given at nasen events.
Harness the energy of Twitter
I’m lucky that in my day-to-day nasen job I get to visit a number of outstanding schools which amongst other things have one thing in common, the entire staff team is passionate about improving provision for all children. The power of surrounding yourself by positive people has been well documented and is a key strength of outstanding schools. Twitter enables you to build your own virtual staffroom of people who can you drawn on at a moment’s notice to help you. Your work colleagues can also be part of the process so while extending your network outside your setting you can also strengthen internal links within your organisation.
Networking with Twitter
A recent event nasen attended illustrated how useful Twitter is for today’s education professionals. Speaking at the event was Jo Grace (@jo_grace) who creates delightful sensory stories. I was forwarded Jo’s details via @Martin_Littler, I checked her Twitter feed to see examples of her work and commissioned an article, all via Twitter. The fact that Jo lives in Germany and Martin spends much of his time in Gerona has no impact on the networking. We were all professionals interested in a particular aspect of SEN drawn together via the power of social media.
nasen ran out of Code of Practice summaries on the first day (apparently 500 wasn’t enough for one day). Not a problem – I posted the link on Twitter and all those unable to attend on Saturday were able to access an electronic copy.
Using Twitter doesn’t just make sense at mass participation events like exhibitions or teachmeets, it can also work wonders for the teacher in the classroom.
A practical application of networking with Twitter is that it can help inform and reinvigorate your planning. Rather than sitting there staring at an empty sheet vainly hoping for the words to appear magically before Downton Abbey or Top Gear starts, you can put a call out via Twitter. If you have invested some time in following colleagues who are sharing their resources via social media you’ll soon find that people are only too willing to help. This is also your opportunity to refine resources or approaches that you currently use and doesn’t exclude your colleagues who can also join in.
I was asked by a colleague to help them plan their lesson observation for a job interview. Their first step was to put the call out via Twitter and they were immediately rewarded with a number of ideas, offers of resources and helpful hints that instantly felt like one of those rare meetings where everyone is ‘on message’. Indeed for this article I put a tweet out asking for comments on the value of Twitter and here are some of the responses:
@inclusion4all: @Seanismax @nasen_org Use twitter to get easy CPD, blogs and reports on new ideas and research from all over the world. Broadens horizons.
@phillengthorn: @Seanismax Ideas, ideas and more great ideas to use in the classroom!
@JulieRevels: @Seanismax Very useful for immediate connection with like-minded professionals
Finally, you don’t need to be limited by the education sector. Once you start casting your Twitter net a little further afield, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the range of resources you can access with a little searching.
Sean Stockdale is a former AST for ICT and English, author of Max the Champion who currently works for nasen @nasen_org, he also tweets under the name @seanismax. For more information about nasen visit: www.nasen.org.uk