Twitter, and its role in teacher professional learning, is one of the hottest trends in teaching today. As a connected educator I have written and presented many times about the amazing things that happen on Twitter for teachers who actively use it. The PLN has done more than give teachers access to an international cohort but has, myself included, helped rejuvenate teaching and challenged us to improve what we do.
It’s also a place where a teacher, faced with many challenges both in the classroom and from educational leaders, can find support. There are few jobs in the world that seem to be so collaborative that are, indeed, a solitary pursuit.
The minute a class begins it is the teacher, alone in the room, who must juggle the learning needs of students and the various ‘policies of the day’ while delivering curriculum. Teachers, good teachers, active teachers, know what works and doesn’t in a classroom.
Twitter has given a collective voice to this somewhat surprisingly solitary pursuit.
Lately, however, I have heard of a disturbing trend that is working to silence the voice from the classroom. Administrators have been confronting teachers who tweet. Well not all those who tweet, just those who may be tweeting an opinion on current policies and practices.
Some of these administrators have combed through feeds seeking evidence of what they seem to believe is some kind of insubordination. Not only that, educators who are targeted are made to believe that their evaluations will be affected by their publishing of 120 character missives.
It seems to me that, instead of censure and intimidation, educators who share their experiences working within prescribed “policy” should be thanked. It is these teachers who share the reality of decisions, who are in a position to offer feedback from the reality of their classrooms. These administrators should take a page from “Undercover Boss” and treat the tweets as direct and meaningful feedback.
Start a dialogue, visit those affected and maybe, just maybe, rethink a policy or rule as a result.
Muzzling never works, and doing so to teachers who use twitter to learn and support each other is short-sighted at best. To those affected by this I write this piece to show my support. The freedom to teach and learn is something worth defending.