Back in 2008, I distinctly remember reading Franki Sibberson's first post about Twitter. It sounded intriguing...a way to connect with other learners who did not live close by? I was attracted to the possibilities right away. Usually, when I hear about something new, I'm one to jump in and figure things out as I go. I know that not everyone learns this way, and I'll admit, I probably make it harder on myself sometimes as I work through challenges, but overall, it works for me.
It took me another seven months to read and think about Twitter. Believe it or not, my first tweet went out four years ago today. Only July 30, 2009, I tweeted, "New to Twitter. Any advice?" I was excited as I anticipated all the new learning, and new friends I would make. I followed a few people, hesitantly sent out tweets, linked my blog, and hoped for the best. It wasn't long before I was drowning. I was overwhelmed with all the tweets as I tried to follow conversations and read everything that came through my feed. #Hashtags? @ signs? Whew! I was in way over my head. I treaded water for awhile and then decided to take a break until I had a better sense of what this Twitter mania was all about.
For the last four years, I've dabbled in and out of using Twitter. I send out a tweet now and then, share ideas, and participate in Twitter chats every once in awhile. I absolutely believe in its power. I think that's why I haven't been willing to completely give it up. Troy Hicks introduced our teacher group to Twitter in January as we prepared for our Advanced Summer Institute. I started to think again about how Twitter could move me forward as an educator. How could I make it work for me? Cathy Mere and I had some great conversations about Twitter. Thank goodness she's patient because I keep asking the same questions over and over. I've watched how both her professional and personal lives have grown due to her connectedness. I've even made some "friends" whom I've never met, but feel like I know them based on our Twitter conversations. I decided I wanted to give it one more try. I gave myself permission to take in what I could and not worry if I wasn't getting every bit of information out there.
Now, I say I gave myself permission to let some of it go, but deep down, I still felt like a failure. I wasn't tweeting up to my expectations. (Remember, I've got that perfectionistic thing down pat). I constantly compared myself to my Twitter savvy friends, and I always came up short. I did not see myself as a connected learner. That is until yesterday.
Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach presented at the ILE Ohio conference on the importance of connected learning. One of our tasks was to sign up for Twitter (check, had that done), and send out a tweet (another check...I've done that before). I wondered if I'd be able to stick with it this time. I want to be a connected learner. Then Sheryl said something that gave me pause...She said (I've taken liberties as I was writing the quote quickly), "I think of Twitter like a river. It is always flowing by. Sometimes I just want to dip my toes in and I spend 10 minutes or so reading a few tweets. Other times, I might want to wade in a bit and I will follow a # conversation and be on for a little longer. Then there are the times I want to dive in and swim. I'll spend an hour or so delving into a deep conversation with one or several people."
Thank you to Ruth and Stacey for hosting Slice of Life Tuesday. You can view other slices on their blog.