The Professional Development We Need (And Deserve)

An amazing thing happened today. I found myself this afternoon standing in the front of my classroom, desks in evenly spaced rows, a big jug of blue hand sanitizer near the door, my laptop projecting on the Promethean board, my iPad under the document camera, a bright yellow mask on my face. Spread out in a mixture of standing or sitting on top of the desks, a group of English teachers laughed, commiserated, and eagerly listened and shared ideas in preparation of our foray into hybrid education that starts Monday.

For the past month, I have been a ball of anxiety. I have come home from work angry and upset just about every day. I’ve started chomping on Smoothie Tums like they’re candy, and I’m in the middle of a two week cycle of Prilosec. Like many districts, mine is getting ready to start phasing students back to face-to-face, meaning that starting Monday, I’ll have students joining me in my actual classroom and students joining me via Cisco Webex from home, all at the same time. To increase the anxiety, we’re transitioning from a half day schedule (two groups of students, one AM and one PM), to a full day, complete with a whole new bell schedule and all new rosters of students. For the past three weeks of virtual learning, I taught eight separate 45-minute classes, but starting Monday, I’ll have three 100-minute block classes. Because why not throw a full schedule change into the middle of stressful pandemic teaching?

I consider myself a good classroom teacher; I strive to do what is best for my students every day and to improve my practice through research-based strategies. And I think I’ve done a good job of teaching virtually for the past three weeks that we’ve been fully online. But the prospect of teaching both at the same time… how will that even work?

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Tweet Tweet!

twitter

If you’d told me five years ago that I would be saying that Twitter is my professional development best friend, I would have laughed in your face. But here I am saying that Twitter is amazing and I have learned so much from the past couple weeks of use.

I’m a current masters student at the University of Houston, taking a class on Integrating Technology into the Curriculum. Part of this class required participation in a Twitter Slow Chat put on by ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). I’ve heard of Twitter chats before. Plenty of my undergrad professors at Kent State encouraged us to participate in chats put on by NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) or other similar professional organizations. I was reluctant because I was just never super comfortable with Twitter. I know Facebook. I like Facebook. Honestly, I’ve only in the past year gotten into using Instagram. (Yeah, I know, I’m a bad millenial.)

I do have a smattering of experience with Twitter before this class. I created an account during the election with the hopes of following news organizations (and my husband’s live debate tweets), but that fizzled out quickly. I tried in my first year of teaching to create a class Twitter to send reminders to my Twitter-obsessed students, but after seeing some of their Twitter pages, I decided that was a bad idea. A very bad idea. *shudder* Then I discovered Remind anyway. Much less frightening.

But, hey, now it’s a class requirement. No more putting off Twitter. It’s time to give it a real go. I didn’t know what I was missing. I think my problem with Twitter in the past was simply that I never really knew how to utilize it. Continue reading