2012 has been an incredible year for me in terms of my professional development and growth as an educator, lead learner and administrator and I owe a huge thanks to the PLN I have developed on Twitter for that change! I am so glad I overcame my initial fears and concerns about participating in the world of Social Media (you know the concerns - that Twitter was only a place to find out whether or not Rihanna was hanging out with Chris Brown again or whether Jessica Simpson was pregnant again)! Twitter is literally the BEST Professional Development experience any educator could ask for because it can be personalized, it can happen whenever and wherever and it is FREE!! What can be better than that? Do you want to watch an episode of Modern Family and participate in some PD at the same time? Twitter lets you do that! Do you want help deciding if 1:1 tablet implementation at the elementary level makes sense? Twitter lets you do that! Do you want to share the successes and/or struggles you are experiencing in your professional world in the hopes that someone will offer you perspective and support when necessary? Twitter lets you do that!
I will always be grateful to the people who have opened my eyes to the power of Twitter... Eric Sheninger, whose feature in Scholastic magazine pushed me to at least dip my toe in the shallow end of the pool known as the Twitterverse... Joe Mazza, whose weekly #ptchat on Wednesdays at 9pm has given me an abundance of ideas on how to strengthen the home/school connection; I am also honored to call Joe a friend in "real life" as we are both lead learners at the elementary level and are in the same doctoral program at Penn... Jessica Johnson whose staff blog has inspired me to start my own staff blog and who helps facilitate the weekly #educoach chat (with Shira and Kathy) every Wednesday, which is a weekly reminder that coaching is a critical part of leading; Jessica also shares an interest in Bucket Filling and I had a chance to record my first ever Podcast because of her connection with Jeff Bradbury and the awesome TeacherCast resource... then there is Todd Whitaker who is a ROCK STAR in my eyes as an instructional leader because his books and tweets inspire me to be a better and more effective leader! Then there is the awesome #satchat crew - Scott Rocco, Brad Currie and Bill Krakower - who help me kick off the weekend (7:30am EST on Saturdays) with an invigorating conversation that gets me excited about my role as the lead learner/principal of Cantiague Elementary School... then there are tweet-extraordinaires Steven Anderson, George Couros, Nicholas Provenzano and Vicki Davis who have taught me so much about Edtech and the endless possibilities of how technology should and could be infused into every learning experience; Tom Whitby and Peter DeWitt were major inspirations for me to start blogging; Jerry Blumengarten who has an endless amount of incredible resources on his website - DEFINITELY check it out! This list could seriously go on forever but I think you get the idea... Twitter has helped me grow because of the Connected Educators who are willing to share and help push me even further out of my comfort zone on a daily basis... THANK YOU ALL!
Twitter was just the beginning though - I have learned so many other things through the Twitterverse that have literally changed the way that I function on a daily basis...
- I have learned about Zite, which has literally changed the way I start my day! I cannot begin getting ready for the day if I don't spend time reading through the blogs, posts and articles organized by Zite for me! (Eric taught me about this one at ASCD 2012!!)
- I have learned about Google Docs (and many other Google components) that have shown me different ways to harness and focus the power of collaboration - what an amazing (and FREE) resource!! I have already created an account and started checking things out!
- I have learned about Evernote, which has literally changed my professional life! It is an incredible app that allows me to type up stuff, take pictures, etc. and access the material from any device where I have downloaded the app because of the way it syncs! So, while doing walkthroughs each day in the building, I walk around with my iPad and take notes using Evernote and then when I get home at night those notes are on my laptop, which makes my life so much easier when offering specific praise or feedback! I love Evernote so much that I wrote a whole post about it and how it can be used to successfully support literacy instruction!
- I have learned about Diigo, which is such an amazing tool whose potential I haven't even fully realized yet! Basically, it allows me to visit different websites, read through them, make notes or highlight parts of the text and then bookmark it to my diigo account so I can access it later! And, I can access Diigo from any computer so all my bookmarks travel with me - AMAZING! (By the way, also LOVE using Symbaloo for this purpose too - so cool!!)
This list could also go on FOREVER because I am literally learning new and exciting things each and EVERY day... I learned how to create a QR Code (so EASY), how to make music online using UJAM, how to use AppShed to create my own app (slightly tough but totally doable with some time and effort - well worth it!!), and most importantly, I started my own BLOG which makes me feel empowered and has allowed me a whole other outlet for my ideas, successes, failures and passions as they relate to the world of education! It has given me a voice and audience that I never thought imaginable and for that, I will always be grateful!
Needless to say, 2012 has been a crazy busy year (didn't even touch on the Blue Ribbon or doctoral program because those deserve their own posts) but most importantly, it has been the year of growth; the year of empowerment; the year where I took control of my own professional development; the year where I become a Connected Educator; the year that changed the game!