In this episode of the PE Express podcast, Mike Graham shares his go-to source for professional learning.
:02 On today’s podcast I want to share with you my favorite go-to source of professional learning. That’s helped me continue to grow as a teacher more than anything else.
[0:38] The year was 2013 and I was stuck in a rut professionally. I had 17 years of teaching experience under my belt and to be honest with you, I was just enjoying doing things the way that I’ve always done them. I mean things were good, don’t get me wrong. I had rapport with my parents. Students loved PE. I had good administrative support. But there was just something missing and even though everything looked good on the outside, it was like I needed a shot in the arm to keep me motivated throughout the entire year.
How can I keep the passion and excitement for PE all year?
I mean the beginning of the school year was easy. There was that back to school excitement, but that wore off after a few weeks. And then I was always looking forward to November because that’s when I got to attend my state PE conference. I would always come away with some fresh ideas and this renewed enthusiasm to get back to my students and try all these new things with them. That was great for a while, but again, that wore off. Then you get in those dog days of February, March and here you’re already looking forward to spring break, and then I’d come back from spring break, and you just kind of put it on autopilot and cruise to summer, right? And I knew that that was a problem. I knew that’s not how I should be doing it. I wanted the have that passion and that excitement every day like I felt when I went to that conference and I wondered, why can’t that adrenaline rush last the entire year?
My Introduction to Twitter
[2:01] So I guess it was about this time that I discovered Twitter. I mean, I knew about it, but not having any social media accounts to my name whatsoever. You know I was skeptical. I had some preconceived ideas about how people were using it and what kind of content was on there. So I was pretty reluctant to give it a try, but I came across this blog post that was written by Jarrod Robinson. He’s known to many in the PE community as the PE Geek. He’s from Australia. He had written this 14-day Twitter challenge and had some step-by-step instructions for what to do and how to do it each day (The 14-day Twitter challenge created by the PE Geek is not available anymore. Here is a similar one inspired by the original challenge). So I said, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. I searched a few hashtags. I followed a few people and before I knew it my Twitter feed was filled with content from other PE teachers. They were sharing all this great stuff that they were doing in their classrooms and I thought, wow, this is awesome. Now I had hundreds of great ideas from people all over the world at my fingertips, and I discovered this visit community that I never knew existed before, and suddenly the world became a lot smaller, and my thinking began to expand beyond the four walls of my gym.
[3:08] I was encouraged, I was challenged and I found that there was so much more that I could be doing in my program. I could ask questions and get responses from other people that had dealt with similar situations, and I had really solutions to areas that I knew that I could improve.
It’s a great way to build relationships
[3:23] I think the best part for me was the relationships that I began to develop throughout this process. I even had some direct message conversations with people that had a similar philosophy as me and really got to know some genuinely nice people. And when I would attend conferences and travel to different states, I’d look forward to meeting up with my PLN friends from Twitter, as I call them. It was like we’ve been friends for a long time, even though we’ve never met in person, and we were just able to pick up conversations where we left off and it was cool.
Being active on Twitter has created opportunities
[3:53] You know, many of those friendships and relationships have turned into opportunities for me to travel and present across the country, to get involved in leadership roles with my state association. Had I never joined Twitter, I probably would still be teaching in my comfort zone and not growing very much professionally. You know, I’m really thankful for all the impact it’s had on me and more importantly, on my students. So if you want to jump-start your professional learning and grow a network of like-minded people who will support you on your learning journey, give Twitter a shot. It just might change your life.