Last week I participated in my first #edchat discussion on Twitter. I had seen the hashtag around before but I never understood how it worked until this summer when I finally had some time to play around on Twitter. I jumped in with both feet to and decided to try the Tuesday Noon chat. Here are a couple of observations.
1. My pet peeve is waiting. Specifically, waiting for things that aren't worth waiting for. I don't mind waiting to pick up my kids from gymnastics because it's worth watching them tumble and then getting a big hug afterward. But at weddings, I'll wait until everyone else eats to get at the buffet. If I get to the License Branch to renew my tags and there's a line, I leave. This is my problem with most professional development. I wait all day to get that one (maybe two) idea that I can take back and actually implement. The rest of the time is usually listening to people complain about how they CAN'T do something because of NCLB or whatever else. The PD I have done on my own this summer has taken a grand total of 3 hours and has lead me to find so many other resources that my time has been much more well spent. I can't count how many hours I have spent after those, following up and building stuff.
2. An Army guy I know calls this value-for-value, and it's rare that us teachers get value-for-value with our time. I get $600 to coach Boys and Girls golf. I love doing it but do you think that's value-for-value on the time I spend scheduling, traveling, being away from my family, etc? If I spend two days at a workshop where I have to prepare two days worth for a sub, buy my own lunch, and come back with little of good use, is that value-for-value?
3. The #edchat allowed me to expand my PLN in a short amount of time. I probably follow 7 or 8 new people on Twitter as a result of the chat that I have gleaned information or inspiration from already. That doesn't happen when I sit at a table with my own math department at an all day workshop.
4. Just in doing the chat, I learned how to use TwitterGrid and Twitterfall and already have some ideas of how to use this in my classroom. Simply participating gave me some new tools to add to my arsenal (OK, tool belt, it's not like I am my own militia of a teacher).
I feel like I have taken control of my own learning and I am getting the value that I was never able to get before. If I can get my students to do the same thing I feel like I will have solved all of my "classroom management" issues that I have fought over my first 5 years as a new teacher.