Twitter or not?

I must confess that I am neophyte in the Twitter realm, only really beginning to seriously tweet at the CASA 2011 conference in Niagara Falls. Prior to that I had signed up because: (1) If I wanted my school administrators to engage in 21st century tools than their superintendent should be doing the same and (2) I thought it could be used as a communication tool. The first reason is fairly self explanatory from a leadership point of view. The second as a communication tool was less impressive in my initial thoughts. I had a hard time imagining that with only 140 characters, my communications would be no more than bus cancellations or other fairly mundane announcements. My belief was that Twitter needed to be accompanied with my Blog to be truly effective. During the CASA conference and these last three weeks, I have begun to understand the power of Twitter.

As I enter my 26th year in education, I would say that my summer holidays have always been a time to relax and rejuvenate. This has been common for me whether I have been in the classroom or the superintendency. However, holidays have also been a time where I have been able to catch up on my reading. Typically, I read educational articles and books that I never seem to have the chance to do so during the school year. This summer has been no exception with my completion of the books: “Leading and Managing A Differentiated Classroom” by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Marcia B. Imbeau and “Focus” by Mike Schmoker. But as engaging as these books have been, Twitter has provided me with the best professional learning this summer. I have been amazed with the breadth of topics I have been able to read about via Twitter. Most of the tweets or links provided are short reads but they evoke much reflection. I’ve read tweets that made me want to go out and change the world immediately and others that just infuriated me. The bottom line however, is I’ve engaged in a reflection of my own practice as a leader and the direction of our school division. I’ve felt a great euphoria in my new learning. It is an excitement that I’ve not experienced for quite some time.

Maybe even more important is a connection that I have established with educators and others from around the world. Since my exploration into this media I have “met” many gifted and talented individuals. The diverse thinking that I have been exposed to is challenging, refreshing and affirming. It continues to stretch my own thought process about our division’s journey in 21st century learning leadership. Leadership is so multifaceted and the vast array of opinions remind me of that. Twitter has allowed me to hear many voices which strengthen my own leadership capacity and ability. Over the next two days, I will be preparing for a retreat with my senior leadership team and Twitter has provided numerous ideas and reflective activities.

However, I do have one personal concern with Twitter. I have found that even though I don’t use it to provide my personal whereabouts (as a superintendent, my life is public enough as it is), there is a certain seduction to always checking who and what has been tweeted. My fear is that when I return to work next week and to my regular routine, I will not have the necessary time to review the vast amount of information shared every minute. What then? Will I go into Twitter withdrawal? The answer will come… in due time! Until then, keep tweeting and encourage all of your educators to engage in this powerful professional learning.

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    • Monica Braat on August 3, 2011 at 4:54 PM
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    It’s addictive – but, like you said, best tool out there to encourage one to evaluate your practice and beliefs. Have you figured out the whole hashtag and hootsuite part of it yet? It became even more of an experience after that for me :).

    Great to see a superintendent blogging and twittering!

  1. Great thoughts Chris. Just remember, Twitter is not something to be kept up with. It is there when you need it, and if something is really good, it will get to you. When you have time, take something out of it as you need. Information on it is endless when I came to understand that, it was much easier to step away.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • John Downs on August 8, 2011 at 6:25 AM
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    As a fellow tech facilitator once told me, “Twitter is like dipping a laddle in a river, you never know what you are going to get” I look at it like that. Twitter is a resource that you can go to an “dip in” from time to time, and get something out of it. You don’t have to look every day or “try to catch up”. You just look and gain knowledge and insight everytime!

  2. Chris,
    How did you get in my head? You have basically explained my summer as well (I am a teacher, not a superintendant) and my fears about “keeping up” once school starts. Hopefully it will be easy to check in when needed instead of trying to catch up on everything that has happened. I am sure that Twitter is going to get a lot busier once school starts again, too. Keep posting about how its going.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying Twitter. Have a great school year!

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