Tag Archives: twitter

New to Twitter? #FollowFriday

(Originally posted on uoitmed.wordpress.com)

One of the most relevant things to remember about using Twitter for professional development is that it is more important to follow really interesting and thought-provoking people, than to be concerned about how many followers you have.  I often create Twitter lists to which I direct learners when I am showing them how to use Twitter.  The title of the list indicates the kind of learning you may be apt to do if you follow the people on that list.

But another great way to find really interesting people to follow on Twitter is through the hashtag #FollowFriday or #ff . Though it is updated on Fridays, you may put that term in the search bar to access this information. I don’t do this enough (I am always worried about leaving someone out), but whenever I get mentioned in a Follow Friday list or see someone sharing one, I am always pleasantly surprised to find a new person from whom I think I can learn on Twitter and beyond.

Building Community using Follow Friday

Any leader who is trying to build community using a District or organization hashtag might want to create a #FollowFriday post.  What this does is not only honour the contributions of people within that community, but also indicates to others who else to connect with.

Dr. Robin Kay, Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Ontario’s Institute for Technology makes a point of posting about people in Ed Tech who would be good to follow.

Doug Peterson has long been supporting and building a community of Ontario Educators by creating several #FollowFriday posts.

Both Julie Balen and Lisa Noble shared a #FollowFriday post with me this morning that reinforced the amazing people I already follow, but introduced me to a couple of people whom I have never met.  Often, there is an ongoing sharing as in this example when Donna Fry added some other great folks to follow:


So what are you waiting for?  Take some time by the pool or on a patio today to check out the hashtag and follow some amazing educators today who will help you to learn throughout the school year!

If you are really new to Twitter, you may find this resource helpful.


Social Media and Trying to Find Balance


I have been thinking about this blog post shared by George Couros and the subsequent conversation with Jason Wigmore.
I'm quitting Social MediaIn her post, Jessi Hempel talks about the many factors that have influenced her decision to take a sabbatical from social media for the month of August.  It’s a humorous and thoughtful take on how to balance social media in your life.  I think that what’s niggling at me most is the idea of going cold-turkey for a month and whether or not that is the best approach; at least I don’t think it is for me as an educator.

You can’t argue with the fact that technology is so ubiquitous that it can literally take over every minute if you allow it to.  And that the need for balance is more necessary today than it ever has been as a result.

But, like Jason, I enjoy having the luxury of time in the summer to read more blog-posts and connect with like-minded educators on Twitter which I don’t necessarily have the time to do when the school year is in full swing. I really love reading someone’s post, the comments, and then adding to the conversation with my own comment.  I think I learn more from that process than I might attending a conference.  I simply don’t have as much time for reflection during the school year when I know I skim and scan some of the items shared with me on Twitter and put them aside to get back to.  In the summer, I can actually read a post twice if I need to, I can think about where I could use the ideas and plan to make it happen or I can thoughtfully share the information with people who might find it useful.  I truly believe that being a connected educator is valuable every day of the year.

If I believe that to be a teacher is to be a learner,  

then does it make sense to stop learning in the summer?

Socially, I am notorious for missing birthdays and milestone events in the lives of my friends and family because I rarely get on Facebook or Instagram (which I use for personal rather than professional connections) unless it’s summer time.  I love to re-connect with everyone on those platforms in July and August.

I think of my kids, who have spent every daytime moment with their friends at school who because of varying schedules have not been able to physically connect with their friends over the summer.  They use Snapchat and Instagram to keep in touch.  I remember how connected to my friends I was at that age and how often my parents yelled at me for being on the phone!

Admittedly, I have to try really hard to strike a balance with technology and social media and to model that balance for my kids, but the lazy hazy days of summer seem like the ideal opportunity to do that.

Every summer, we go on a family road trip.  Typically, we turn off our cellular data and only used our phones to take pictures.  We listen to music and trivia in the car.  On our Washington DC visit this summer, we toured tons of museums and monuments, and had lots of great conversations. I’m not going to lie.  When we hit a McDonalds or coffee shop with wifi, everyone took out their phones to get updates.  It was like we had been trekking through a desert and didn’t realize how thirsty we were until we arrived at an Oasis.  But we had a good conversation about that at our next non-wifi stop and for almost the entire trip we were connecting with one another.

Summer for us is about going for walks, or long bike-rides, swimming in the pool, visiting cottages, and hosting friends.  At camp, there are no devices allowed.  And so with all of these opportunities for outdoor activities, it’s actually easier to model an appropriate balance. Isn’t it?

As a parent and teacher, the need for modelling and seeking balance is particularly important. But sometimes, it’s tough-going!

I would say that both myself and my husband are just as addicted to social media as my kids.  I am definitely a Twitter addict! One of the things I had to do while I’ve been busy working on a course is turn off my notifications, so I could keep from being distracted.  I openly shared my struggle and why I was doing that with my teens so that when they have an important assignment, they might use the same strategy.  And I love Hempel’s idea of creating a Folder on my phone called, “Don’t Touch” which might work for these instances.

There are a couple of year-long absolutes in our family:

1. no devices at the table (at home or a restaurant) and when guests are over

2. devices stay downstairs at bedtime

The rest is a bit of a work in progress.

Obviously, we are a middle class family with summers off.  The issue of balance becomes even more complicated if kids are left to their own devices (pardon the pun) and don’t have the opportunities and the modelling that our family situation can provide.

But technology isn’t going away any time soon, so we really need to keep working at finding a solution that is going to work for us.  Giving up technology for a week, a month, or for Lent isn’t going to solve the problem.

And I think we need to take it easy on kids if as adults we’re struggling too. It can’t be one of those, “Do as I say!” things because I know how much I hated that!!

Putting your phone away.jpg-large


Knowing when it is appropriate to have a device out of sight and when/how to connect with experiences and people in real life are increasingly important lessons for any age group every day of the year.

Being fluid and mindful and having ongoing conversations about it might be the best approach.






I also

On Being a Connected Educator

One of the most exciting things that has happened this month is the many number of YCDSB educators who have joined Twitter.  This is partly due to the fact that when George Couros  (@gcouros) came to speak with us on April 7 & 8, one of his main messages was to connect with other educators.  Check out the Learning Reflection from his visit.   As a result, our #ycdsb21c hashtag is gaining momentum and teachers are connecting and sharing!

Earlier this week, Mark Carbone (@MarkCarbone) and Donna Frye (@frye) came to speak to our Administrators. Their theme?  Becoming a Connected Educator.  The stars are aligning!

I am so excited because I know the world of possibility that can happen when we connect with other educators and develop a strong Professional Learning Network (PLN).  Some of the educators I follow, I’ve never met, but many of them are people I’ve met face to face at a conference, a workshop, or at a school.  Twitter allows me to extend those connections and conversations in a way that was never really possible before.



It is not unusual for the following to happen on Twitter:  If you are stuck for a resource or help, people will help you!  When we were looking for resources a few weeks ago around misleading data, we were helped within minutes by people I have never met in real life.

Connect Educator 1Connect Educator 2

Here’s the IGNITE talk I presented first at our EDTech Saturday on March 7th and then again for Senior Admin in our District in April.  It provides an overview of how being a connected educator allows me to practice the 6Cs as a learner.

This IGNITE represents a moment in time in my learning journey.  Check out my Twitter Lists for other very influential people I’ve since met who are now a part of my Twitter PLN and who have had a great impact on me even in the past few months.


Here is a presentation I created with the help of Bruna Gallace (@gallace)  to help navigate what seems to be the confusing world of Twitter: Using Twitter for PD

If you joined Twitter, don’t forget to make your Bio a personal reflection of you!  Thanks to @MsD_Teach for letting me use her bio for this.

Twitter Profile


Check out Donna Frye’s (@fryed) post, “Why Do [Our Students] need Connected Leaders” as well as the resources found at OSSEMOOC (@OSSEMOOC):  Building your professional learning network.

Here’s a great post by Brian Aspinall (@mraspinall) called T is for Twitter and Transparency

Educator’s Technology’s 11 Great Twitter Etiquettes that Teachers should know may also be useful.

Alice Keeler’s (@alicekeeler) has a great post that helps to demystify Twitter hashtags: Twitter Hashtag Tips

George Couros provides a thoughtful reflection on the idea of a Connected Educator as well.

If you ever have any questions, I am just a tweet or DM away!

Learning with George Couros