Twitter =/= Improved Teaching

I met a teacher recently who was quick to share his knowledge, resources he was aware of, and contacts he knew that could help my teaching process. That’s the kind of person I like to know (maybe because it’s the kind of person I like to be). Actually, I’ve been meeting a lot of teachers like this recently. This person stands out at the moment, though. We realized we have two things in common: We’re both starting to use standardsbased grading for the first school year, and we’re both first-time teachers of a certain engineering course. Once we realized that, we decided to meet up at his house to exchange ideas and resources for a bit. Score!

I saw this teacher (in-person) again at a conference yesterday. When I was tip-tapping on my laptop and googley-eyed during thw keynote, we started discussing the notion that Twitter can be supremely useful for teachers. After all it’s a forum for sharing knowledge, resources, and contacts (these three are gold for innovating teachers, right?). This friend told a story. He had asked an administrator, “What couple things would you recommend for me as I’m learning about SBG, etc?” The answer was: “I’ll tell you one thing – Twitter.”

You’re nodding your head. So did I.

Here’s the sad potentially illuminating part: This teacher doesn’t feel as though he has the time and energy to enter the twitter-blogosphere. He sees me on my laptop zipping from one tweet/thought/blog to the next and calls it impressive. (I think I’d call it frantic. tom-AY-to, tom-AH-to.) But this got me wondering: Is it really tweeting and blogging that allows teachers to be collaborate, innovate, and be mutually empowering? (We already know that it doesn’t cause collaboration; I know several teachers with mostly empty Twitter accounts.) This friend simply is collaborative and empowering, and will continue to be. He doesn’t need a certain popular manner of interaction to do the same.

Bottom line: I don’t want our enthusiasm for technology-driven -using efficiency and quantity to overshadow what is at the heart of this exciting explosion of ideas in education: commitment to generously sharing resources and lessons-learned in the interest of improving the service we offer to students and society.

In my conversations about what works in education (:-p), I intend to highlight this last point. Let’s celebrate the gift, not the wrapping.

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