Connected Parents and the Power of Twitter

Twitter Meta Moo! too far?

(Photo credit: Josh Russell)

Once I decided to give Twitter a chance, it took me months to figure out how it might be of use to me as a parent. To start I sat through a Twitter 101 night at our school. I went because I wanted to learn how to use a tool that I knew my children will be using sooner or later, whether I liked it or not. I will warn you that a 1 hour crash course is not enough time to learn a new language. It is a start though. Twitter, just as a new language, is best learned when you are immersed in it.

The first few months went by and I enjoyed seeing snippets of the school day as the principal and a few teachers tweeted…but was this it? Was it just about following celebrities and watching what happened at school? After a few months, I joined in on the weekly #PTchat. Although the title stands for “Parent-Teacher chat”, it was mostly educators (not to say they weren’t also parents – but they were speaking mostly from the educator’s perspective). As great as the topics were, just sharing out from a parents lens wasn’t going to keep me interested in using this tool…I had to get something from it.

The more people I followed, the more I participated, the more I realized that everything that is shared could also be used by parents to help their children continue the learning outside of school, educate ourselves to be better advocates for our children, and provide insight on how to improve all of our home and school partnerships. Twitter has given me tools and ideas on how to help my children get more from their studies. Ideas that I possibly could have gotten from reading dozens of books, but realistically don’t have time for. One of my biggest takeaways so far (remind you I’m only a year in) is my recent discovery of the literacy powerhouses we have access to (this sentence can be translated to whatever your interest is). It is through Twitter that I found several phenomenal books on reading comprehension; given the opportunity to observe another school’s reading workshops; and connected with and learned from literacy experts from all over the world on how to help my children improve their reading skills and then bring those ideas to the attention of our school for all students to benefit.

So where can parents start? Who can they follow? Below are two places I found people who I have drawn from. These are just a few – I encourage you to share those who have inspired you.

If your school and/or teachers, principal and fellow parents are on Twitter – follow them. The glimpse into the school day provides you with great conversation starters outside of “how was school?” and it is nice to see what other classrooms are doing. For me it was @knappelementary, @joe_mazza, @miss_a_abel and @lspencerslp. (This list has grown since then – but too many to list)

Check out chats. The first one I joined in was #PTchat. Not only can you share and get some great info/ideas from these – but you also can find other people to follow that share similar interests. This is my number one source to finding great minds and inspirations. It also provides you with the opportunity to interact with people you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance. Some of the people I have pulled the most info and ideas from are: @lisaodavis (my partner in this blogging adventure and a role model for advocating for our children); @lornacost, @drpricemitchell, @smconstantino, @drmerylain and @larryferlazzo (connecting parents and schools); @sirotiak02, @coachyetter and @johnfritzky (teachers who share the ways they inspire kids to want to learn and how they include the families in the learning); @pennykittle, @kylenebeers, @sharonletslearn (literacy superstars); and @freeingyourmind, @micheleborba and @annie_fox (pros in the mental well-being of our children).

Twitter didn’t make me a connected parent or an advocate for my children’s education – but has made me a more effective one.

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About Gwen Pescatore

Mom of 3 ~ #PTchat co-moderator ~ @Edutopia community facilitator ~ @MomCorps Marketing Mgr ~ #ParentCamp ~ Co-host of ParentED at http://goo.gl/lS1xDu View all posts by Gwen Pescatore

3 responses to “Connected Parents and the Power of Twitter

  • Jeannette James

    As an educator and parent, I cannot speak highly enough of Twitter as an effective and speedy way to remain connected. Twitter is freely accessibly to all and offers a means of connection. Relationships need to start somewhere! I can honestyl 100% state that the greatest proportion of my professional learning (besides experience) has been drawn from my use of Twitter- and how did I come across this blog and Gwen? Twitter, of course!

    @7mrsjames
    Sydney Australia

  • cgparkin

    What a great post! I only came to Twitter 18 months ago, having not been convinced of its value. As an educator it has proved fantastic in terms of locating resources, ideas and philosophies. However, you are absolutely right in terms of the need to invest time and seek out the good streams to follow. It will be interesting to see if children today adopt it as much as we do. I think it is seen as an “older person thing” at present (by many of my students) and that there may well be another “thing” that replaces Twitter in due course…

    • gwenpescatore

      Thanks for reading! I couldn’t agree more in that a “new” thing will come along and replace Twitter by the time our youngest kids are old enough to use it. Technology & the tools that go with it are constantly reinventing, changing and “improving”. 10 years ago who would have thought email would be considered a slower way to communicate? Even if something comes along to replace Twitter at some point, the immediate benefits of the time invested to access the global resources now is well worth the time spent.

      Have a great day!!

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