Monday, February 1, 2016

What if Chattanooga's Connected Educators Were Even More Connected?


In the last 3 days I have posted 3 tweets that look a lot like the one below. In the 3 different ones I have tagged #CHA #hcde and #ccslearns in hopes of getting a few more noticed. So what were the results?
I had 17 unique educators notice the tweets and respond- three of them were superintendent level educators, a few were edtech edus, at least three were principals or assistant principals and the majority seem to be classroom teachers but I do not know for sure. I know for a fact that we have more connected educators in the Chattanooga area but for whatever reason the tweets weren't noticed. Which leads me to the WHY of my postings. 

Lately I've been wondering just how many connected educators were in the Chattanooga area and how I could make sure I was connected with them on Twitter? I've been wondering what these educators are doing that our school might benefit from seeing? I've been wondering who in my area is leveraging the learning ability of social media for their school practices? I've found myself wondering if the teachers in my city know about the upcoming Edcamp Gigcity and how could I make sure they know about this awesome opportunity?

Last week I had the opportunities to co-lead a session at the Administrator's Technology Academy (ATA) sponsored by the East Tennessee Education Technology Association (ETETA). While speaking to a packed out, standing room only crowd I realized there were only two attendees that I recognized - Allison Fuller-Mulloy and Amy Myhan. It dawned on me that there might be quite a few more educators from Chattanooga in the room but I just didn't know them.

What if there was a way that connected educators in Chattanooga could connect more readily? At Edcamp Gigcity last spring there was a session about citywide collaboration. Many in the room wanted it to happen. To be honest I took lots of notes, had grand plans and they all fell through in my lack of vision. But what if we all started following and creating locally based tweets that might be of interest to other educators with the hashtag #eduCHA? With #eduCHA we could let each other know when opportunities for learning are taking place, we could check to see if there is truly enough interest to create "lunch and learn" opportunities in the summer, or #CoffeeChatCHA opportunities at that cute little donut shop on Frazier Avenue one Saturday morning a month. We could connect and share triumphs, dissect failures and learn from each other more.

What if I knew that a local educator was doing something that I want to see be done at my school? We could hop in my car and head over and see it in action.

What if more educators in our area were using social media for professional development opportunities? One thing that keeps coming back to me over and over in my very small "test" was that almost 30% of the educators that responded to my tweets were administration level. What does this say? I think it tells us that many school system leaders at least see the value of Twitter for professional development. They may not expect connected educators but I think we can make the assumption they notice them.

What if more of those teachers that clicked that like button became more than "lurkers" on Twitter and actually shared things? I was a lurker for a long time before I started adding things to Twitter. There is nothing wrong with lurking and learning but each educator has a voice to share. Take a chance, model good digital citizenship skills (don't bash others or your school) and bump up your twitter involvement to see what you can add to your PLN (professional learning network).

What if more administrators took part in Twitter conversations? Some of my favorite twitter chats to participate in include Dan Lawson, superintendent of Tullahoma City Schools. Dr. Dan adds a viewpoint to chats that many teachers overlook. I am thankful for his use of Twitter because it has grown my own personal views as I have listened and learned from his viewpoint. That being said, administrators should make sure that Twitter is a safe place for teachers to be transparent and real in their sharing. Voicing opinions should be allowed. Obviously if someone is bashing the school or an individual that has to be addressed but teachers shouldn't be scared to share their fears and discouragements safely. There is too much goodness to glean from Twitter, Google +, Voxer, etc not to give teachers the power to feel free to discuss!

I am not trying to start a movement or create a subculture. I just want to be able to look beyond the four walls of my school for support and my global community starts the moment I step out of the front door of the school. Let's connect and collaborate!


  1. That Tullahoma City Schools...always seem to be on the cutting edge?? #lawsonlineage

    You really make some great points. I know we all go through that question in our anyone really reading (or listening for that matter) to this?? This past year has been a great awakening for me in regards to social media as a PD tool. I have even participated in presentations on that very topic. I have said it many times...I will get more out of an hour #tntechchat twitter conversation than many of the conferences/workshops I attend. That is not to say that those conferences/workshops aren't relevant and needed, BUT the twitter chats reach me where I am at...just like our PD needs to be with fellow teachers, where they are at (or in better terms, specifically what they need).

    Julie, great post. I have definitely become a fan of your work. Keep it up!

  2. Thanks, Mick! I am thankful to have connected with you and the Tullahoma City Schools crew this year! Looking forward to learning with you all more in the years to come.

  3. I'm in Atlanta, so I'm not part of your Chattanooga PLN. But I enjoy reading your blog posts. One problem with the use of social media like you describe is just a matter of time. With all my responsibilities, I can't follow my Twitter feed (@kirbyeducation) more often than maybe once a week. I have it on my recurring to-do list, so I am reminded to check it when I can. But that keeps me from the type of quick, on-the-spot interaction you describe. I have several Twitter chats on my calendar, and find them helpful. Anyway, not a unique problem, I'm sure! Thanks for the post!

  4. Good point, Rod...I agree. I just wish there were other ways to be intentional with or connections. Do you have any suggestions? And thanks for reading my blog!