Obviously, being a millennial, I’m not Twilliterate*. I’ve had Twitter accounts before, including a handle for immature yet mildly funny observations about life in London. Highlights on request, if you’re interested.
But despite having managed more than one successful “brand” account, for a long time I still hadn’t figured out how to really leverage Twitter as a tool for professional development. During my very, very short stint as an accounting intern, I tried miserably to join the hoardes of eager graduate students online, live-tweeting company conferences and hashtagging pre-approved slogans. But I never really made it past sycophantic retweets of my bosses’ posts and awkwardly forced “networking” with other interns. I deleted that account a few months later.
So why, this time around, have things suddenly changed? Since optimistically creating yet another Twitter account on the last day of my Delta course, I’ve met loads of incredible teachers, got hold of some brilliant resources, and have found a million ways to channel the experiences, advice and opinions of others into my own professional development. The secret ingredient can only be one thing: love for the job.
Twitter couldn’t make me like accountancy, nor could it make me better at it. But teaching is my pride and passion, and I’m hungry to learn as much as I can about it. Obviously some of that learning is going to come from self-study and working with the small team of dedicated teachers at my current school, but – you guys – there’s a whole world out there! Twitter drags me out of the echo chamber of my own thoughts and my familiar school setting, and makes me wildly question every belief I’ve ever held and every assumption I’ve ever made about teaching. In a great way.
Last week, for example, I participated in my first ever #ELTchat. It was just a pre-sessional event, mostly to drum up a few ideas to make up the schedule for the rest of the year, but I met so many people! They listened to me! I listened to them! I talked to teachers on the other side of the world who I’ve never met and may never meet and we had things in common and we also had nothing in common and all this was communicated in 140 characters or less!
Twitter is beautiful. Even just the support from my followers after starting this blog has been incredible. Thanks for the retweets, likes and advice on what and how to write!
Of course, I’ve also seen some fairly horrible things on Twitter. I’ve seen highly qualified teachers in positions of academic authority write scathing, personal critiques of their peers’ work. I also recently saw that my mum literally has 1,400 more followers than I do. I’m not sure which event I found more scarring, if I’m honest.
So Twitter isn’t a panacea for my developmental ills, but it could very well be the tool I need to spur me on in my endless quest for self-improvement. After all, there are worse things to have at your back than hundreds of supportive colleagues with thousands of years of experience between them. So I’ll see you at 8pm Italian time for the #ELTchat! A dopo …
* That’s millennial-speak for ‘Twitter illiterate’, in case you were wondering.