Saturday, February 11, 2012

Twitter - my virtual staffroom

I don't go into my "real" staffroom very often at school.  My mailbox is there so I check it a couple of times a week.  Sometimes I go into the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee or tea.  I don't eat my lunch there - I eat with the students in the dining room and then I'm off outside for a playground duty or I attend a meeting.  However there is another "staffroom" that I go into every day where I meet another group of teachers whom I also think of as my colleagues.  This staffroom is Twitter.

I go into this virtual staffroom every morning as I'm eating my breakfast.  I chat to the people in Asia who have already got through a lot of their busy day.  I catch up with their news and they share their ideas, links to things they have found interesting while I've been asleep, and resources.  Every single teacher in my virtual staffroom is there because I've chosen them - they are the people I follow.  The ones who follow me back I'm able to have more personal conversations with through DMs.  These are like the people in my "real" life who I choose to confide in.

While I'm at school I don't often have the chance to spend time in my virtual staffroom.  However because I've clicked on links that have opened in new tabs, I might find the time to explore these during the course of the day.  Perhaps one of these tabs contains a 2 minute video, a 20 minute TEDtalk, an article in an online magazine or a blog post.  As I read through these tabs I may decide to retweet these links - by lunchtime other teachers are coming into the virtual staffroom - those in the Americas are just starting to walk up.  I think that they too might be interested in joining in the conversation.

When I get home I check through my Twitter stream again.  There are different colleagues in the virtual staffroom now.  I might get involved in an #edchat or perhaps write a blog post about what I'm thinking.  It's interesting for me, an international school teacher, to compare what's happening in my school with what's happening in other schools on distant continents.  I love the diversity that this brings to the virtual staffroom.  I find that I have the time to reflect on what I'm doing and to share these reflections with others in the staffroom.  Every single day I find someone who both challenges me and supports me.  Because I'm not in the same physical building as these "colleagues" I'm often able to talk with them more freely, to talk about the things I'm struggling with that might seem like weaknesses to those I actually work with.  There's a lot of trust in my virtual staffroom - I know that nobody there is going to think I've said something disloyal by questioning the status quo, nobody is going to think that I don't fit because my thinking is different from theirs.

I often think I'd like to meet these people in a real staffroom.  How if I could work in my dream school, all those people would be there with me.  What an amazing place that would be - we would truly transform education.  I'm actually getting a little impatient - I know one day soon this virtual staffroom may actually be my real one.  I'm counting the days.

Photo Credit:  Tiny birds in my hand by Lise AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works


  1. Maggie,
    Perfectly stated. I have been searching for ways to build my PLN and how Twitter is an excellent vehicle for that. I just posted something similar: Nicely done.

  2. I would like to meet these people, too, in a real staffroom (and not only!) - you have no idea how much this post resonates with me!

  3. Great post. My sentiments exactly, and I see my Twitter activity (PLN) exactly as you have mentioned - a virtual staffroom.

    It has already been a pleasure to meet some of the people I started chatting with on Twitter; it's like meeting old friends ... love it.


  4. Outstanding post. I couldn't agree more!