I awoke this morning to find that I have 10,005 followers on Twitter. In the grand scheme of things that fact isn’t worth a wet paper towel but I confess it gave me a little thrill. Ten thousand – a big number. It conjured up an image of all 10,000 breathlessly awaiting my next 140 characters. But then I remembered that Kim Kardashian has 18 million followers and I came back to my senses.
What is worth pondering, however, is the new world in which we live in which educators are not alone. I well recall as a young teacher thinking that I could count on one hand the number of people I could find in the profession as equally-passionate and interested in what I was interested in. Years later, I was able to receive a grant from the Dodge Foundation for a competition to unearth and share the best curriculum units under the thought experiment “What are the 10 best ways to teach Catcher in the Rye? No one knows: that’s how isolated we are in this field.”
I have also noticed that since I devoted my Twitter feed – grantwiggins, for the interested – to the sole role of sharing interesting and potentially useful education-related articles, stories or sites by subject area, my following increased fairly quickly. By contrast, when I was just being snarky or sharing dumb personal details, the numbers barely budged.
But the real turning point in my own involvement in Twitter came when I posted a question. I asked what unheralded education books people recommended and I asked if people knew any great resources on a few technical topics. Within an hour I had over 100 useful tweets.
A few weeks ago I was asked by a follower to do a twitter book club of my new book on essential questions. We did it twice, and while the limits on characters was a bit limiting, it was surprisingly interesting, lively, and practical. It was even a little dramatic as you waited for the next tweet to pop up with either a question or a comment.
So, we’re not alone. There are like-minded, interested and interesting people out there that can now easily be found to help us have colleagues from all over the world who share our passions and desire to be better educators. That’s cool.
What new and interesting ways of working digitally have you found or experienced? Post a comment.