More Evidence for Twitter’s Professional Development Potential

We were impressed by one school’s use of Twitter for a teacher-led professional development chat.  We’ve written on Twitter’s potential for professional development before, so we thought it would be a great idea to share what that looks like in action!  We interviewed Principal Matt Webster (@MWebster158) and teacher Laura Komos (@LauraKomos) at Martin Elementary School to find out how they did it and how you can get started, too!

The Chat:

Storify of “mock Twitter chat”:

Questions they discussed:
  • Q1: What’s one new (tech or non-tech) tool or idea you’ve tried with your kids recently?
  • Q2: What is a tool or technique you’d like to learn more about?
  • Q3: How are you utilizing the Collaboration Rooms in the Husky Hub?
  • Q4: What are your other students doing while you meet with small groups?
  • Q5: What does your Target/RtI time look like?

The Interview:

How often does your school’s staff have PD Twitter chats?
  • Matt: The #martin158 chat that you saw was a specific PD session at Martin today.  We have a PD Menu at our school (new this year) that is driven and created by the teachers wants and needs.  One of the October sessions happened to be Twitter as Resource.  Part II of this PD session was a mock twitter chat for new users to experience and learn the ins and outs of a chat on Twitter.  Other PD sessions offered over the next 2 months include:
    • Flipped Classrooms
    • 40 Book Challenge
    • Picture Books to reinforce Figurative Language and Comprehension Strategies
    • Co-Teaching
    • Blogging
    • Virtual Fieldtrips
    • Independent Practice Time – Differentiating
How does the Twitter chat support other PD at your school?
  • Matt: What we plan on doing is turning the #martin158 practice chat into a monthly chat where we can post questions and discussion on PD topics that have already happened or are upcoming.
How did you initially approach PD Twitter chats with the staff?
  • Matt: We introduced Twitter to the whole staff last year at a staff meeting (phones were required J).  Followed that up with this PD Menu session and will continue it with monthly chats using #martin158
Tell us about some of the logistics of a staff Twitter chat.
  • Created with behappy.me
    Created with behappy.me

    Matt: For the PD, it was all staff interested staying after school experiencing it and asking questions together.  We have 100 staff (1,025 kids 3rd-5th) so not all are interested.  But the interest is growing.  We ask a lot of questions as admin and try really hard to follow up.  So if a teacher or group of teachers say they are interested in learning, in this case, how to use Twitter as a tool, then we make sure to offer it to them.  I feel very fortunate to work with a lot of great people in this profession at this school.  It’s not hard to find an “expert” to lead the way on a particular topic.  Those interested step up and make it happen.

What are some of the effects of the chat on your staff?
  • Matt: As a result of today, people left excited–a number of them stayed and asked questions based on the tweets they read.  I imagine by next week a few new ideas will have been tried in classrooms because of the chat today.  Martin went 1:1 in 2012 and with that came a number of changes including a new reading curriculum, new technology of course, but also a new approach to PD and teacher support.  I was the assistant principal that year and became the principal the following year (2013-2014).  I see my primary role as an administrator at Martin, to one of support for our teachers so they can do what they do best which is to positively impact our students.
  • Laura: Since the chat, I have noticed several of the participants using Twitter to connect with colleagues from other schools in our district as well as teachers from other places. I’m excited to see what the future of #martin158 brings to our professional learning!
What have been some challenges of PD Twitter chats?  
  • Matt: We haven’t encountered any thus far that have been problematic.  We have a very passionate staff that want to do what’s best for their students and utilize new resources to do so.  What is comfortable for some right now is using resources and relationships on twitter to grow their practice of teaching.
What advice would you have for other school administrators and teachers to get their schools started on PD Twitter chats?
  • Matt: As with anything else in education the first question should always be student focused… what do we want our students to learn?  And then follow that up with, what will we do when they do/don’t learn it?  For us, Twitter is just another tool or resource to help us design plans and lessons in an attempt to help our students learn.  For other administrators I would simply say that if there is a desire to connect to other professionals, be inspired by other ideas, and connect to other people doing great things, then give it a try.  A collaborative culture is present in every highly functioning school.  Twitter allows you to take that one step further and collaborate with educators all over the world.

Thank you so much Matt and Laura!

Featured Image: The New School

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Mary Wade

I taught 5th grade at a PYP International Baccalaureate school in Utah for 4 years, and am currently on extended parental leave until my kids start school. In between the roller-coaster adventures of motherhood, I enjoy educational blogging so I can stay in the loop and keep learning! Snapshot favorites: Student voice & choice. Twix bars. Global classrooms. Calvin & Hobbes. Outlandish sewing projects. Teachers learning from teachers. Modeling daring to students.

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