Teacher to Network
by Lyndsay Nottingham | 12.15.15
Lyndsay Nottingham is a first-year kindergarten teacher in Union, KY.
I was a paraeducator last year and we had monthly paraeducator meetings. In one, the principal, who was kind of getting into Twitter herself, encouraged us to try it. She had talked to us about Twitter chats in general, [such as] the Kentucky Ed Chat, and I got on there and fiddled around with it. [I found] TeacherFriends—it’s friendly and you don’t have to feel goofy if you mess up the formatting. Then I found out about EdCampKY, eventually happened to meet MeMe [Ratliff, KY lead #ecet2] and she has springboarded [my network] to a whole new level.
The next thing I know I’m getting a phone call to be on the convening planning committee for #ecet2cky (central Kentucky)—it made me into a “yes” person. It was my first #ecet2 convening and I have fallen in love, blogging about the topic and trying to get others involved in the convenings or the weekly #ecet2 chat on Sundays at 8 PM EST (shameless plug).
You don’t have to be an island anymore. I remember [for] my grandma [a kindergarten teacher as well], your teachers were limited to the teachers in the building, the district. That’s not the case anymore—it’s not necessary to stay within your four little walls.
If [I] want a fresh look at something or if I have a question about a topic that my group is stuck on, I can go [on Twitter] and say, “Hey, what are you doing?” and get ideas that are teacher-tested that are relevant to us. Anything that I’m wondering or can use feedback on, I can get it within a minute or two—I queried my Twitter network for tips for my first year of teaching. I was getting a tad bit anxious before the start of school and wanted some real advice from people I “know.”
If you Google something, you can get results, but you never truly know if it’s factual or not. You’re far more likely to get a real answer from a real person on Twitter than [by] typing something into a Google search box. You also get something that’s personalized for you—teachers don’t have time to waste and are straight to the point.
I don’t really know any other first-year teachers who have that kind of network. It’s nice to know that people are listening and my voice does matter. Despite the fact I may not have the most experience in the world, people ask me questions and want my opinion on Twitter. I’ve been asked to help with leadership efforts, #ecet2cky and #ecet2ky, and other initiatives within my state—it’s amazing! I love using Twitter chats to connect with and learn from others. You can have real, meaningful conversations despite a 140-character limit.
All of us have a story. We have a “why” story, we have passion and we have opinions that deserve to be heard. I truly feel that by using Twitter as a platform for teacher voice, [we] are being heard. I know that #ecet2 trends pretty much every Sunday night now. That’s powerful! You may think that no one is paying attention, but I can promise that if you put the effort in and let others know what you are thinking, others will take notice.
Lyndsay’s tips for building a network of teachers on Twitter:
- Search for “Twitter education chats” and there will be a list. That’s how I found out about TeacherFriends. Maybe there’s [a teacher chat] in your state–and if there’s not, none of us are going to kick you out [of any chat].
- Get on there! If you need help finding [a chat or resources], use #T2T and if you don’t have the answer, somebody will find it for you.
- When I first started [using Twitter], I got on and was trying to participate in every chat I found, but there’s no way. Try a couple out, and if you don’t like [one], you don’t have to finish it. There are no requirements.
- If you want support, I love the #ecet2 chat on Sunday nights at 8 pm EST. [It gets] your week off to a positive start. If I have a bad morning on Monday, I can remember, we talked about gratitude last night—what can I find in the situation to be grateful for?
- I’m working on getting [more] digital followers, but it’s not about the count, ultimately. Try to really, truly find a couple of people you can connect with. At the end of the day, if you’re having a rough day, those “teacher besties” will understand you and champion you.