This summer there has been time for reading and relaxing as well as a bit of preparation, of course. One thing I have been able to do is get involved a bit more with some online chats on twitter.
I have made no secret of the fact that I enjoy using twitter. In twitter terms my birthday was June 14th 2013 thanks to @mflandbeyond who introduced me to twitter and to its many benefits.
As I have become more confident with twitter I have discovered how useful it is to me as a teacher. I realise that I can develop (‘grow’ is the term, but it sounds odd to me) my personal learning network. Or, rather, my #PLN.
At this point you may have two questions for me. What’s the point of a PLN and what’s with the ‘#’?
The # (hashtag) is like a bookmark or an index. It allows you to put all thoughts on the same topic in one place. If you are searching for a particular topic you can use the # to find a string of tweets on it. For example:
If you click on #PLN you will be taken to all the related tweets that pertain to personal learning networks. If you have a look at the list you will also begin to understand the point of a PLN. Here are a couple of responses on twitter about the meaning of #PLN.
As a language teacher I am particularly keen to use #mfltwitterati, and #langchat . I am able to see all tweets that include #mfltwitterati and gain ideas from these tweets or see questions from other teachers that I may be able to answer. In the world of twitter, sharing and collaborating are key; they are, by far, the best reason to tweet. So if I create something that may be useful to others I share it. If I have an idea and want to know if others have tried it already, I ask the great online staffroom to hear about their experiences.
What else can hashtags do?
Hashtags also allow for synchronous online chats. I am not about to go through all the chats that take place on a regular basis on twitter (you can find a list here) but I will expand a little more. Towards the end of the summer term I started getting involved in some online chats. #ukedchat was a hashtag that I had seen over the year and indeed I used it whenever I wanted to share or seek advice. However, one Thursday evening at 8pm I found myself involved in a chat with other teachers. There were, over the course of the hour, a number of questions to consider and my online colleagues from far and wide (overseas as well) all threw in their thoughts. Colleagues from all sectors and ages discussed the topic under consideration and a conversation ensued, new links were made (remember the #PLN?) followers gained and new people followed. Each week there is a different topic and sometimes the chats are subject specific. This list will give more detail.
Other chats I have enjoyed these last few months have been:
#nt2t – (New teacher to twitter based in USA) Saturday at 2pm
#satchat – (Saturday chat) 12.30pm.
#edchat – Tuesday 5pm (based in USA). The chat is based on the second placed vote from a poll posted on the Sunday morning. If you want to get involved in the first placed question then this takes place at 12am!
#AussieEd – Sunday 11.30am
#ukedchat – (UK educational chat) Thursday 8-9pm
#bfc530 – (Breakfast Club) Everyday 10.30am. This is a breakfast chat that takes place at 5.30am in the States and lasts 30 minutes.
#sltchat – (SLT chat based in UK) Sunday 8 – 8.30pm for middle managers and SLT or anyone interested in leadership.
All the times mentioned are GMT.
I just pop in and out of chats as I am able to and pick up lines of enquiry or discussion threads that interest me. I pick out good ideas and add them to my favourites list so that I can explore these ideas later in a less pressured environment. It is through these chats that I stay up to date with modern teaching practices and hope to develop as a teacher.
It has been fantastic to connect with like minded teachers all around the world. Now term has started again I will have to limit my chats to one a week but I will certainly still be able to call on my growing #PLN for advice and support at any time of the day or night.
If you follow any twitter chats then let me know in the comment box below. I would welcome your thoughts.