The Case for Using Twitter

I'm in somewhat of a transition in my teaching career. With a brand new daughter in tow, I have less time and even less motivation to do a lot of the activities that I've blogged about over the past two years. My monthly movie nights are on a hiatus for at least this year, if not longer. I have spent very little time volunteering with the soccer team. And so far I've only posted to this blog a few times in the first seven weeks of the school year. I'm well off my normal weekly pace!

While part of this is because I have less time to do the things I have to do, the other part is because I have something new that I want to do with my time - chill with the kid. While I still think that something like a monthly movie night is good for the kids, I just don't have as big of an inclination to spend my time in this way. I think that will change as the wife returns to work herself and as the kid(s???) get old enough to tag along with me.

All this is to get around to the point of this post - Twitter. More specifically, why of all the extra bits that have fallen by the wayside during the first four and a half months of my daughter's life, Twitter is not one of those bits.

Reason #1: Time
Twitter is extremely quick and easy. It is also very fluid. By that, I mean that a teacher is able to spend a few minutes one night on Twitter and fight it positive and useful, then choose not to touch Twitter for two weeks, then immediately find it useful again. There is a common refrain that anything that is worthwhile on Twitter will get repeated over and over again. I find this to be true, although I'm sure there are exceptions.

Check out this piece on how to master Twitter in about 5 hours.

While you may not find the hidden gems of Twitter this way, there is still plenty to be found. Such as...

Reason #2: Diversity
I have been very lucky to grow up in a quality urban school district. I have known a greater amount of racial and socio-economic diversity than many of my peers, and I think I'm a better and more well-rounded thinker because of this fact. It is, for example, hard to hold irrational prejudices against the black community when you know so many awesome black people.

For those who have never been able to expand their world-view, Twitter can help you experience "the other". While this experience is not necessarily the most comfortable in the world, oh my is it important. As a history teacher, that is my goal every day - to get my students to put themselves in the shoes of "the other", whether that "other is a person that lived 500 years ago or a person in 2015 of a different race.

Reason #3: Positivity
Again, there are exceptions. But by and large, teachers who spend time on Twitter are a more positive group. It's a pretty simple theory as to why this is - any teacher willing to spend extra time and effort on Twitter probably has a more positive outlook on their job, their students and their work environment. Teachers on Twitter are well aware of the issues that education faces, especially in the public education sphere.

There seems to be a "make lemonade when life gives you lemons" attitude among the educators on Twitter. I like that attitude. I try to have that attitude myself. From my experience, the best educators I have ever known have this attitude. Speaking of...

Reason #4: Togetherness
Beth Heide was my government teacher when I was a student at Center. She then hired me in 2010 right out of college without a degree in education. I was motivated, all-in to what she was selling and ready to help. She put her trust in me. I love reading her thoughts.

Sarah Foster is the gifted English teacher at Center and does some truly amazing things with writing and literature. We started teaching the same year. I get a lot of ideas about teaching reading and writing from her tweets.

Colleen McLain is our wonderful tech goddess at Center. She has mentored me through countless tech issues relating to tech stuff. She also thinks about tech through an educational lens, which I absolutely love. She thinks big picture.

Jessica Steffes teaches at Center Middle School and is a lot quicker to experiment than I am.
Tyler Shannon is the Principal at one of our elementary schools and models data-driven education.

Chrissy Chandler involves students in problem solving through robotics in ways that I could not even dream of.

And those are just Center teachers. I could go on and on about the communities that exist outside of our district walls! The entire #moedchat community and #KCedu community provides examples of incredible teaching in Missouri at large and Kansas City more specifically.

All of these people are like fuel for my teaching fire. When my fire starts to dim, I know that I can find and borrow fuel from countless others in my community. When I'm burning bright, others have the ability to borrow fuel from me. It is a larger version of what happens when you are in a particularly close-knit department where each educator feeds off of the next.


And that is what Twitter can do. It can connect the disconnected. It can take a teacher working in the most dreary, bleak situation and connect her to others who are living (and hopefully thriving through) the same struggle. From those others, we are able to find strength and passion. That is how community works. We, as humans, need that community. Though online can never replace face-to-face interaction, Twitter provides a worthwhile substitute when face-to-face is too time consuming or unrealistic to achieve.

Thanks for reading this blog! I hope you'll consider taking a moment to comment below and turn this into a conversation. Whether you are an educator or not, we have all had common experiences with education both good and bad. I want to hear what you think! 

About Me:
My name is Alec Chambers. I am a high school history and government teacher at a small, urban public school in Kansas City called Center High School. We regularly kick tail. Among many awards, we were named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2014. I don't just teach at Center- I also graduated from Center in 2006 after attending Center Schools K-12. I have a degree in Political Science, a second degree in International Relations, a third degree in Education and a Master's of Arts in Teaching. I have an unofficial degree is soccer. All of those degrees have led me to the high-paying teaching profession! I have a newborn daughter and am married to the most awesome woman on the planet. Seriously. It's a proven fact.

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