Saturday, October 31, 2009

What Twitter Cannot Do

Twitter is an amazing tool, no argument.  I've been on the site for about a year now and, frankly, some days it feels addictive.  

But Twitter is not the solution to teachers' professional development challenges--and it is not going to reform education.  Some of the educators I "follow" are making the most outrageous claims about its transformative power and about the importance of what self-proclaimed educator-leaders post in 140 characters or less! "Everything you tweet is so memorable and important  . . . keep doing what you're doing," one woman gushed about a school technologist in NC.  He has apparently accepted the mantle of Messiah and recently dedicated post #10,000--yes, ten thousand!--to his followers (or . . . um, disciples, perhaps?).  Another teacher said he has learned more on Twitter in the 2 months he's been on it than he did in two years of graduate school.  Wonder where he went to school??

I suggest that we slow down, curb our enthusiasm, and begin to check the evidence.  At MAST, there are 2 people out of 43 professional staff members on Twitter. Hmm . . . not even 10%, hardly a tidal wave.  I have seen nothing to indicate that even 10% of the teachers in MDCPS--the 4th largest school district in the US-- are on Twitter. In fact, I have seen nothing that suggests that 10% of the educators of any district have joined the 140-character brigade. Change the face of teaching? Transform professional development? 

For many of the educators on Twitter, RT blasts hold the promise of a radically changed educational landscape. I don't think so.  It's a terrific tool and good fun, but meaningful changes to US schooling will require more than a mountain of RTs.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Good-bye, Chaucer!

Long time since the last post. Guess the summer teaching gig fatigued me more than I was aware. We are about to end the first quarter.  It's been good, but not great.  Haven't found the right place to be in the English course.  Reworking the course now so that it includes fewer older writers.  I am also moving away from the chronological survey.  I am organizing the course into thematic modules: Literature of Initiation, the Immigrant Experience (not trying to suggest that there is one experience), Literature of War, Conversion Narratives.  This last one is what excites me most--because it gives me a great excuse to teach Tolstoi!

Change and challenge are good.  We'll be fine. Thanks for visiting!