I feel like a Twitter veteran with my five-year subscription anniversary coming up on March 23. And yet, in recent weeks, I have been disillusioned with Twitter — it must be the growing pains of social media. While the current labour unrest in BC has, at times, brought out thoughtful discord, too often, as discussions have moved to Twitter, it has brought out name calling, anonymous accounts, idea trashing, and inappropriate language. Too often, adults have used the power of social media in ways we would never want our kids to. Too often, I see one of the great powers of social media for educators being misused, instead of fostering its ability to role model for students how we engage in ethical and thoughtful ways.
So, with that said, I stand by the comment that I often make — that learning through social media, and Twitter in particular, has been a most powerful and inspirational learning. Here is a slide I often include in my presentations describing Twitter:
A recent article by Max Cooke: Twitter and Canadian Educators, from the Canadian Education Association, nicely captured the use and potential for Twitter:
An emerging group of leaders in Canadian education has attracted thousands of followers. They’ve made Twitter an extension of their lives, delivering twenty or more tweets a day that can include, for example, links to media articles, research, new ideas from education bloggers, or to their own, or simply a personal thought. At their best, edu-tweeters are adeptly leveraging Twitter to brand themselves, to reinvent teacher PD, and perhaps to accelerate the transformation of our Canadian education systems. Twitter is being used to extend formal PD conferences beyond their venue to followers on Twitter in real time; it’s facilitating informal discussions (“unconferences”) among educators with common interests; it’s allowing best practices to “go viral” on the Internet; and it’s allowing innovative classroom teachers to challenge the status quo.
In his article, Cooke included a list of 30 Canadian Educators to assist new users as they begin to explore Twitter. One of the key ideas about Twitter is to follow a diverse group of people to avoid the ‘echo chamber’ effect. I, personally, have found it very useful to follow a group of people with local, BC, Canadian and International content, and even a few for humour (how else do I explain why I follow @peeweeherman), and I am often asked by new users, who to follow? My suggestion is you start by following one person, look at who they follow, and build your interest and list from there. I found Cooke’s list of Canadian edu-tweeters to be very helpful, and it gave me a few great, new people to follow as well.
So, whether you are a new or experienced user, and having been inspired by Cooke’s article, here are 40 BC edu-tweeters I would start with as you look at who to follow. I understand there are several thousand BC educators now using Twitter, so this list is only a small sample of the connections available. While almost all organizations have corporate accounts, I find following and engaging with people to be much more satisfying. My only rules in creating this list were (and are) that people are directly related to K-12 education, and not in West Vancouver (the West Van tweeters are all great and I encourage you to follow them from this list here).
Aaron Mueller, Secondary Online Teacher, Vancouver
Al Smith - Teacher-Librarian, Kelowna
Brian Kuhn – Technology Leader, Coquitlam
Bruce Beairsto - Adjunct Professor, Simon Fraser University
Cale Birk – Secondary School Principal, Kamloops
Carrie Gelson – Elementary School Teacher, Vancouver
Chris Wejr – Elementary School Principal, Agassiz
Darcy Mullin – Elementary School Principal, Summerland
David Truss – Vice-Principal, Coquitlam
David Wees – IB Math and Science Teacher, Vancouver
Elisa Carlson – Director of Instruction, Surrey
Errin Gregory – Elementary Teacher, Gold Trail
George Abbott – BC Minister of Education
Gino Bondi - Secondary Principal, Vancouver
Glen Hansman – 2nd Vice-President, BC Teachers Federation
Gregg Ferrie – Director of Technology, Saanich
Heather Daily – Teacher-Librarian, Coquitlam
Hugh McDonald – Elementary School Teacher, Surrey
Jacob Martens – Secondary Science Teacher, Vancouver
Janet Steffenhagen – Education Reporter for the Vancouver Sun
Johnny Bevacqua – School Principal, Vancouver
Karen Lirenman, Elementary School Teacher, Surrey
Kelley Inden – Secondary Humanities Teacher, Nechako Lakes
Larry Espe – Superintendent, Peace River North
Peter Vogel - ICT / Physics Teacher, Vancouver
Mike McKay – Superintendent, Surrey
Moira Ekdahl - Teacher-Librarian, Vancouver
Neil Stephenson – District Principal of Innovation and Inquiry, Delta
Paige MacFarlane - Assistant-Deputy Minister, BC Ministry of Education
Patti Bacchus – Board Chair, Vancouver School Board
Ron Sherman – Elementary Principal, Kootenay lakes
Robert Genaille – Teacher, Fraser-Cascade
Sheila Morissette - Secondary Principal, Surrey
Silas White – Board Chair, Sunshine Coast
Stephen Petrucci – Director of Instruction, Peace River North
Steve Cardwell – Superintendent, Vancouver
Tamara Malloff – Teacher-Librarian, Kootenay Lakes
Terry Ainge – Secondary Principal, Delta
Tia Henriksen – Elementary Vice-Principal, Surrey
Valerie Irvine – Educational Technology Professor, University of Victoria
Looking through my list of who I follow, and checking in on their accounts, has been a good process and an excellent reminder of the passion and curiosity so many BC educators have and are sharing in digital space. It was interesting to see how different districts were represented — I could have found at least another dozen from Surrey for example (like @rwd01 and @bobneuf ) but tried to share a more provincial picture. This list should not be looked at as a Best of list (this is relative), but rather a starting point for new users, or users with more experience looking to broaden their conversations. To be sure, even as I go through my list, I know I have missed a number of awesome BC educators I learn with and from on a regular basis.
So, what of the powers of this social media tool? It is the ideas, not role or geography that matter. And, hopefully, this small slice of my network can help you grow your network.