I have been asked to share my favorite resource (and why) with a class of pre-service administrators. The answer to that question is easy for me…twitter. For those of you who do not know what twitter is yet, you have been missing out. Check out this post if you want to know what you’ve been missing out on. Just last week a principal said to me, “isn’t twitter for celebrities?” Sure, twitter is for celebrities and you can use it to follow celebrities if you choose to, but what administrator has time to follow celebrities?
Being a principal (or serving in any administrative position) is a lonely job. As a teacher I enjoyed collaborating with my team and found it easy to collaborate with other teachers. My grade level met almost daily for planning, to discuss benchmark assessment results, bounce ideas off of each other or to just enjoy each others’ company at lunch time. Now as an elementary principal (of the ONLY elementary school in a small district and with no Assistant Principal) I go through my day with no job-alike colleague to connect with. I’ll be quite honest and admit that I didn’t even think I would make it through my first year… until I found twitter half way through that year.
I have developed my own personal Professional Learning Network (PLN) through twitter. I continue my learning every day by reading blog posts, news articles or new research that other professionals “tweet” each day. I can tweet a question and get replies from other administrators almost instantly. Someone recently tweeted the quote “great leaders learn from their mistakes, brilliant leaders learn from other mistakes.” The only way to learn from others is if you are connected. Many of the educators in my PLN are transparent about their learning in their blogs online. Here are just a couple of examples: The Principal of Change and A Principal’s Reflections Blogging provides a means to reflect on your practice in a public way to gain feedback from others. At first I was very hesitant about publicly posting my reflections that could be ready by my staff, school board members or parents…but I got over that. I benefit so much from reading others’ blogs, that I now blog too (I am just not that great at keeping up with it).
By following other professionals on twitter I can learn from what they tweet from conferences that I don’t attend. I didn’t attend ASCD, ISTE, or The Sisters’ Daily 5 conferences but I followed others who did and was fortunate to learn from what they tweeted throughout their day of learning. There are also regularly scheduled “chats” each week to get involved in. While I’m sitting at home in my pajamas I can participate in dialogue with others each week for the #cpchat (Connected Principals), #teachchat, #ntchat (learning how to support new teachers), and #edchat (see the links below to find a list of all regularly scheduled chats).
I have made close enough connections with some of the administrators on twitter that I have been fortunate to be able to call on them for help when I need it. There have been a few times when I’ve sent an email during the school day asking for help with something (because twitter is blocked in our building) or spent some late nights in real time chat discussing a current problem in my building and seeking advice (that is not tweetable).
As educators, we must teach students to become lifelong learners. Teachers need to model their love for reading and learning in the classroom. Principals need to model this for their staff. If YOU are not continuously learning and growing as a professional, then the majority of your staff will not either. If you are not going to continue learning, then do not become a principal!
There are many great resources online to learn how to get started on twitter:
Twitter 101 Video
Twitter 102 Video
K-3 Teachers guide to Twitter
10 Steps for Educators new to twitter
List of all education related chats on Twitter