The first week back is over and I can complete this post and reflect on the impact of my Twitter input at the staff meeting on Tuesday.
Four frenzied fifteen minute slots to groups of twenty or so staff on the first afternoon back after the Christmas break may seem a slightly cavalier approach to the launch of a social media initiative but it was actually the only option I had and the opportunity felt urgent.
The first session felt swift at twenty minutes and by the time I’d stumbled into the last group I had only seven minutes to rasp my way through what was probably an afternoon’s material. I must have seemed a little crazed to that unsuspecting final group, keen to put the first day behind them and not meet the glittering eye of this ghastly Ancient Mariner on speed.
As Tait Coles advised on Twitter that evening, proof of success would be increased Twitter membership and traffic in the school. Four days later I have twelve additional staff followers and many more dormant accounts have become active. The number of student members and interactions have increased significantly also.
The support staff had a better deal in their meeting on Wednesday. I was able to give one, more polished, thirty minute briefing and be more interactive. Twitter is about conversation after all.
Promoting Twitter as a school leader has something of a risk associated with it. I don’t want to waste people’s time. I joined Twitter last year and gave up soon after. I just didn’t find enough of use to sustain my interest. It was probably a blog post on an RSS feed that made me try again and since then I haven’t looked back. I am confident that I have learnt things that I would not have encountered elsewhere and that professional life is richer as a consequence. I only hope that the guidance accompanying this week’s meetings will spare colleagues my initial frustrations and that we will all continue to connect and learn together.
I feel fairly comfortable with Twitter on a regulatory front. Tweets are unambiguously public and I trust colleagues to show judgement and a professional face.
It’s really exciting to see where this will take us. A structured approach to student use is the next logical step. I will add this to our Leadership Group Extra meeting agenda right now.
So why am I encouraging the widespread use of Twitter at DHSB?
1. As a pedagogical tool (see this Tait Coles @Totallywired77 link for a starting point)
2. To bring even more of the outside world into our school.
3. To encourage professional development opportunities.
4. To share what we do here.
5. As a way of building “Relatedness” – more on this term another time.
Big Picture – a personal view
Some myths (or should it be mythconceptions?) – usually promulgated by those who don’t use Twitter:
You need to be constantly checking and tweeting.
Twitter is purely for gossip and self publicity.
I’m too busy. It shouldn’t feel like you’re doing something extra although you will need to be disciplined…
Twitter erodes literacy? Twitter improves literacy.
It’s too late. Others know more than I do and I feel vulnerable when admitting this; I will never catch up.
We have a moral responsibility to use and model the tools of our students’ futures.
Developing your Twitter brand will put you more in touch with your professional identity. For example, if you want to be more positive about your work – tweet things you’re proud of; if regulating the communication of your opinions is a target, apply the social networking code of conduct to other aspects of your professional life. If literacy and improved communication is your target, link your tweets to a blog – “you are what you repeatedly do”.
Words bind us to deeds. People hold us to account to for the things we say. Remember, there will be no hiding place! View your tweets as a form of journaling, professional reflection and a timeline for your year.
Plan for serendipitous moments on Twitter. Someone, somewhere will surprise and help you.
Our students, parents and peers are using it.
Follow the world on Twitter.
Twitter can be a tool to ensure we maintain a balanced external focus. We are all capable of complacency and inward looking behaviours.
Twitter can bring a sense of urgency – bringing the outside in as John P Kotter calls it in “A Sense of Urgency”.
Twitter can act as another opportunity to model the ways in which we speak to each other and share crucial information about the work we do. This could be a vital tool in the further reduction of In School Variation (ISV) at DHSB.
I’m keen to know your thoughts!