As I begin this journey of starting #mschat (August 9, 8 pm EST every other week), I have been asked by friends and colleagues Why?
The simple answer is to get off the “island of teaching” and into a collaborative group. It really goes back to my first year of teaching: I was struggling getting a grip on the what and how to teach. I asked my veteran grade level teaching partner if we should meet with teachers in another building to discuss the issues. She answered: “No we have to figure it out, our principal would not like that.” I felt isolated and alone. Teaching has traditionally been this way sadly. Teachers, schools and districts have been hesitant to share what the are doing (The good, bad and ugly). Education is not a competition, we all have the same goal so we need to collaborate.
Last year I stumbled upon educational value twitter at the suggestion of a friend. On twitter all of the educators are helping each other reach the common goal of student learning and quality teaching. Over the past year I have participated in many chats that have help me grow. The chats make me reflect on my teaching and give me insight into what other teachers are doing in their classroom. I have found great tools and lesson ideas by being a connected educator. Better yet I have forged relationships with other educators from around the world. I have a large group of teachers to ask advice of, share ideas with, and collaborate. Observing a void in the conversation specific to the middle school needs, I along with my principal (@wwmsprincipal) have decided to start #mschat. Topics will be picked using a twitter poll, focusing on Middle School issues.
I encourage all educators to become connected. Start slow by following people you know. Lurk in chats, until you feel comfortable. I feel it is best just to try it out and find your comfort level. The community is welcoming and full of help. If you don’t understand how something works, tweet a question and the community will answer. Educators that feel isolated and want to get off the “island” need to explore all of the social media options and become connected.