So, you’re on Twitter.
What does that really mean?
When prompted (on Twitter) for reasons why folks are on Twitter, invariably responses include: it’s a great way to connect to teachers, it’s my best PD of the day, there’s not a better resource for my school or to keep abreast of current educational trends.
Each is right.
Each is wrong.
To some degree.
To some people.
And that is the beauty of Twitter, it is incredibly personal and it is all about what you make of it. If you want resources in your classroom, they’re there. If you want to connect to other educators, you can. If you want to see what’s trending, you can find what’s trending. Twitter is all about what you make of it — meaning, if you are on Twitter and you can’t figure it out, you’re doing it wrong. Because there is no single right way to be on Twitter; there is no way you can’t find the right way for yourself.
The right way for me may or may not be the right way for you.
Allow me to share how I use Twitter. Last November I (in)famously unfollowed everyone, not because I didn’t want to connect or learn from others, but because the reasons I followed people were fraudulent. It was about gaining a following. Twitter was less about connections and more about additions. You can read more about my reasoning, but to be blunt, Twitter was all about the “me” and not about the “we.” Since then, I have changed my practices, ones that will better serve the “we.”
I have always looked at Twitter as a place of value. When people ask where I find the time to be on Twitter, I simply remind them that we all find time for that which we value. For some it’s taking courses, others it may be reading journal articles, still others might dive into books. For me, since I find tremendous value in Twitter, I find the time to be there.
At first, Twitter provided value to me as an individual learner. I could spend a relatively short amount of time finding relatively high value resources. Shortly, however, the value shifted a bit. The value of Twitter began to emerge as I made friends there. Yes, friends. Not acquaintances. Not connections. Friends. Honest to goodness, bona fide, call-at-anytime-of-the-night friends.
And that started to happen when I started to share intentionally. I began to share that which was of value to me professionally, but more importantly I began to share that which was of value to me personally.
It was this intentional sharing of my personality that helped to provide dimension and nuance to me, the person. I shared my family, my interests, what makes me laugh, what makes me sad. I began to let others know who I was, not only as an educator, but also as a person, a husband, a father, a friend. Some on Twitter find personal tweets an annoyance. I find them endearing. I find them enlightening. I find them inviting.
And when I started to share “me,” the “we” reciprocated and friendships were forged.
And that is when Twitter was right for me.
Tony Baldasaro is the chief human resource officer of Virtual Learning Academy Charter School in New Hampshire. Having been a teacher, a building administrator, a district-level administrator and now a statewide charter-school administrator, Baldasaro has come to strongly believe that education needs to provide multiple pathways and opportunities for students, that there is no one path to learning. Hence, he spends much of his professional time advocating for use of multiple pathways for students. In addition to writing here, he blogs regularly at TonyBaldasaro.com.