Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Crazy Little Thing Called...Twitter?

     As I set sail on my maiden voyage into the sea of blogging, I decided it was important to share what has led me to this place.  So, I'm going to take a little trip back in time to share what I've learned:

March through April:   The Twitter Journey Begins

The perception I had of Twitter was that it was for all things entertainment: actors, musicians, movies, television, radio, sports, etc.  I'm not one to be enamored with the famous or infamous.  Granted, I appreciate the works of many in the aforementioned category, but not enough to want to read about their daily lives.  Then, one day at work, I happened to receive an email from a fellow principal to join the Twitter universe.  I knew two colleagues that also had Twitter accounts, so after several weeks of ignoring the invitation to join, I decided to "check it out."  

Still skeptical, I created an account and followed the three people I actually knew in addition to organizations I trusted (@BattelleforKids @ASCD @OAESA @NAESP).  I had a private profile b/c I didn't yet trust this thing called Twitter.  After all, what was it and why would I need it? 

As I began receiving updates from those I trusted, I grew curious about who they were following and who I might know that followed them.  It was within that first week of twitter that I discovered @PrincipalJ, @Joe_Mazza, @CurtReess, @donalynbooks, and @NMHS_Principal  I was blown away by the content that they were posting and the conversations they had with one another.  (However, at this point, I wondered if this was just a #NewJerseything or a #Wisconsinthing).  As I began to feel more comfortable, I actually started to explore the idea of Re-Tweeting and using Favorites and even composed a few Tweets of my own.

I continued to follow others, stayed up-to-date with those I was already following, began reading their blogs and articles they posted.  This was when I began to understand the potential of Twitter to grow me as a leader.

April through May:  Jumping in to the Land of Hashtags

Finally, I set sail on my Twitter journey.  I began navigating the tweets as if I had been doing it for years.  Then, I became curious about the power of Hashtags and Twitter chats.  With the encouragement of @bCurrie5 and @drjolly I decided to first "lurk" them participate in Twitter chats.  I also noticed this amazing thing happening, I discovered other Ohio leaders on Twitter.  I connected to them and discovered #OHedchat  What could be more important in discussing the many changes and challenges happening in my "own backyard?"  These first chats were mind-blowing experiences!  I could hardly keep up with the amount of information that was flowing from the number of educators.  The more I read, the more I began to reflect and reconsider my past and current practices.  I was made aware of great professional books for principals and so with my Amazon account having been neglected since spring break, I ordered several titles, including @donalynbooks' The Book Whisperer, @burgessdave's Teach Like a Pirate and @ToddWhitaker's Shifting the Monkey and The Ten Minute Inservice.  These books were completely inspirational and transformational.  As I wrapped up the year, I knew I would be spending more time on Twitter and connecting to others who read these books and responded to them in the way that I had.

June through August:  The More You Read...
During this time, I was able to participate in more Twitter chats, connect to more educators, and introduced Twitter to a few teachers.  I even met a small group at Panera one evening to "teach" them how to use Twitter.  I was "hooked," but in a good way.  As educators, we often work in isolation, sometimes not even talking to another adult for hours at a time.  As a principal, you are sometimes even more unconnected.  As the only principal of my K-6 building, I don't always have the opportunity to bounce ideas off others or share questions or concerns with another with like responsibilities.  This is where I have found "salvation" in my PLN from greats like @twhitford, @courosa, and @gcouros!  I no longer feel isolated and know that I can post a question and receive ideas and support.  Recently, because of Twitter, I was able to attend hands-down one of the best conferences I have attended in a long time!  I was able to learn first-hand from @RickWormeli @NLHSprincipal @snbeach and @RichardCash.  The best part of the conference; however, was found in the #ILEOhio feed.  The conversation between participants was amazing.  This enhanced the learning times 10!  I have continued to connect and reflect.  

August and Beyond:  The future's so bright...
So, where does this leave me now?  From my PLN or tweeps, I have developed very clear goals for the upcoming school year.  I have made a commitment to use what I have learned and put them into practice.  One of my favorite sayings is "You don't know what you don't know."  This couldn't have been more true for me than what I have experienced in these past few months.  And so, now, even though I still consider myself a "newbie" to this Twitter universe, I am beginning my next steps into becoming a better educator:  a more reflective, yet connected educator by blogging.


  1. Cathryn,
    Congratulations on the start of your new learning space! Like you, Twitter (and a few crazy friends) led me to start a blog several years ago. Sometimes having more than 140 characters for connecting is helpful.

    I see you've made some smart connections already. You likely know about #connectedprincipals and #educoach. A few of my favorites to follow are: #edchat #rechat #1stchat #nerdybookclub. You might also be interested in following @kathyperret, @teachingwthsoul, @ReadbyExample --- all smart leaders and connecters.

    I'm so glad you've joined the conversation and look forward to following your journey. I'm glad we connected at #ileOhio.


    1. Thanks, Cathy, for the additional connections and feedback. I'm so glad we connected at #ileOhio as well. I have learned so much and in the past few months and am so excited to continue to learn and grow.

  2. Cathryn,
    I am so happy you decided to set sail on this maiden voyage. Twitter has changed my personal and professional life, I don't know where I would be without my PLN!

    I am also happy to see you hear, in this connected world. I still remember my first post! I was so scared to hit the publish button but, so glad my friends supported me. My blog has also changed my life.

    This is a wonderful new voyage, enjoy and thanks for joining us here in the "Twittersphere" and "blogphere"

    1. Hi, Deb! Thanks for the encouragement! I was also frightened to hit publish last week...and mortified by the couple of typos I had after I did. EEEK! But, I have started two new posts (one I hope to finish today and publish). Staying focused on my personal and professional goals will keep me from being afraid to post.

  3. I've been meaning to read your blog since seeing your tweet, but just got a chance today. Congrats on your 1st blog post and on your Twitter trek! I liked your chronological journey recap. Keep it up. @vandalgrad

    1. Thanks, Simon! I was able to check out yours as well. Well done!

  4. Enjoyed your blog and enjoyed connecting with you earlier this week. I have neglected my Tweeps and my blog. Thanks for the reminder of how powerful both can be. When you put your thoughts out there for everyone to see, you become transparent, and you find out that there are others out there that strengthen your beliefs and convictions.