Some great things have been happening to me during the last weeks. Maybe I should say since September, since I started using Twitter more actively. But let me take it from the beginning.
Last May, I think I discovered twitter and started using it reluctantly. I couldn’t get it in the beginning and was surprised that so many people were raving about it. But then after summer I started following a couple of teachers and from one great teacher to another, from one educator and e-learning expert to the other I arrived here and I can honestly say that Twitter has changed my life.
– If it wasn’t for Twitter I wouldn’t have applied to present at the IATEFL conference in September and get accepted. (my first international conference)
– If it wasn’t for Twitter I wouldn’t have had the idea to create a presentation about PLNs and present it to my colleagues in my region, my first steps as a teacher trainer.
– If it wasn’t Twitter I wouldn’t have had all these resources available when I was co-creating in moodle my first online e-learning course for Greek teachers related to eTwinning
– If it wasn’t for Twitter I wouldn’t have interacted with so many fabulous teachers from around the world
Some people may wonder how come twitter is so important in my professional life and what had I been doing so long. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been teaching for many years, and I think I have always been active, going to conferences and attending seminars and talking to colleagues and reading books. But the internet connection and interaction is something waaaaay different. Once the seminars are over, and the conference lights are turned off and we go home, and the next day we go to school, we are largely alone. Add to that an educational system (in my country) which doesn’t encourage reflection or rather oppresses it, in case we have a good thought and we upset the status quo, and you get the picture of how isolated a teacher who tries hard may feel. Lately there have been attempts to change that, and I am optimistic about it. But the truth is that I have never felt so connected with other educators as I do now.
The ISTEK conference last week in Istanbul was a revealing experience. It was the very first ISTEK conference (and I hope not the last, because I want to attend next year :-) ) and the organization, the content, the level of presentations was stratospheric as my friend Olaf said.
I was online most of the time, following the Twitter reports and watching some of the plenary talks, and all the time commenting with people who were there like Marisa and people who were attending from home like Mark and Vicky and Sara and I felt something was happening. Something magnificent, something I hadn’t felt before.
Now almost a week later, I am still reading the posts and the comments of the people who gave presentations, who twittered, who experienced something like me. As I was watching the official Flickr slideshow from Istek, at Shell’s blog, I had the same feeling I had last weekend. The fact that I was watching photographs of people I have never met in my life and still I felt I knew, saying…there’s Gavin in his usual skeptical look, and there’s Andrew in his emblematic sweater, and there’s Nicky from ConsultantsE who told me about Zamzar the other day. I mean I knew all these people existed, I have read their books, their articles, I have attended their talks (three cheers for Luke Prodromou, here, one of the most influential teachers I have ever met) but the fact that I can address them too, that my comments are valued, that I can ask them questions and get answers back, this doesn’t cease to amaze me. Back to watching the Istek slideshow, every photograph I see, every person I recognize, creates more thoughts and ideas to share, and even the people I don’t recognize, the beautiful women of Turkey, Burcu and Ozge, with their charming smiles, and their Mediterranean looks, for each one of them I say, hey, look this is a teacher like me, struggling to do the best for our students in dire straits, under averse conditions.
There have been so many marvellous responses to this Conference. I suggest you MUST also read Shell’s account which actually inspired this post and has a comprehensive list of other articles and links to check!
As far as professional development is concerned I think that twitter has done for me what years of fragmentary training haven’t done. It has motivated me to read more, to research more, to be more creative, to reflect on my teaching more. It may seem funny that one single application can do so much but it isn’t the software of course but the people behind it, the people I ran into, the people I chose to make my circle of colleagues and friends.
I can’t wait to see what the future will bring to me thanks to all these amazing connections that have been created! I remember some twitter conversation from some time ago that so much positive energy and so much cuddliness, may become boring. Well maybe. For some. For others so much positive energy is our fuel. And I know very well I wouldn’t be here without the help of my friends. Thank you all!