We are a very big school district in New York City, so it’s hard to feel connected to all teachers across the city. When we do connect it’s often around the feeling of being a little fish in a big pond and the policies unilaterally passed down that make us feel that way. I’m excited to get to know more of my NYC colleagues via Twitter and through blogging. There is an opportunity here to break outside of the traditional, large-scale meetings that districts typically send two or three teacher representatives to. (In NYC, our district is broken into regional districts and various support networks.)
What surprises me is that in a city with 88,000 teachers, I have only encountered a handful who are on Twitter for professional purposes. I often find myself scratching my head, asking, “where is everybody?” At the same time, I appreciate the intimacy of those who do tweet in NYC, there’s a level of trust and sincerity between teachers who really want to learn, see their students succeed and watch the city they love improve along with its children.
I hope that NYC only gets better as more educators join Twitter. But I have to admit I’m nervous, as we grow, can I be sure conversations will be kept collegial? I see some of the vitrol on Facebook and I’m glad that more pessimistic teachers don’t take the time to learn how to tweet. I’ve seen how easy it is for NYC teachers to blast the city, students, families and the UFT rudely via Facebook. It only makes teachers look negative and unprofessional to outsiders. I have heard enough unconstructive conversations during work hours from those who have been at it too long or those who didn’t research what they were getting into; I don’t need to hear it after work too.
I’ve taught in District 75, the city’s special education district, for several years now and my favorite part of professional development outside of my school is talking to other educators. I simply love hearing how other schools with similar populations and resources do it. I’m excited to build a network where we can continue these discussions outside of school, on our own terms as teachers.
So who’s in? Are you an NYC teacher ready to jump into Twitter?
Here’s a few tips to get started: