Thursday, 13 February 2014

Why I Quit Twitter

I joined Twitter what seems like a very long time ago, but was actually only just 2011.  I joined not for the same reasons all my friends were joining:  to follow celebrities, keep up to date on all the gossip, share ridiculous pictures  and tell the world about my incredibly inane and boring life in 144 characters or less (I figured  I was already doing most of that on Facebook). 

I joined because I wanted to harness the power of Twitter for my own professional learning and knew from the classes I had taken for my MEd that it could be a powerful tool in that capacity. In fact, I had even promoted Twitter with my colleagues as a great tool for connecting with people. I even wrote an assignment for school which was later adapted for an article in the Manitoba School Library Association Journal about an imagined, yet utopian, day in the life of a teacher-librarian as seen through her tweets. (Aside: Upon revisiting that article, I realize the future I imagined is happening NOW in some schools!!)
So I signed up for an account, connected it to my “professional blog” (which really just has a copy of my Masters capping paper on it and nothing else) and starting following some people. I was careful to follow people I respected and admired in the field of education, “gurus” you might say.  I was determined to keep this Twitter thing a serious business.
I followed about 30 people. Eventually I had 4 followers (which I was completely thrilled about!)
I checked back regularly.
I tried to be engaged.
I tried to keep up.
I wanted to post things, but always felt a little unsure if what I had to say was of any value.
I didn’t know the lingo (What does RT mean? What does ICYMI mean? What the heck is NSFW?)
I couldn’t figure out what the heck the big deal was with hashtags. (Although this is hilarious!)
I started to feel a little overwhelmed.
I started to feel annoyed that this amazing tool wasn’t doing for me what I had been told it would do!
Eventually I stopped checking, deleted the app from my phone and forgot about my account. I used the typical excuses: “Too time consuming,” “Nothing of value,” “I’m already online too much anyway,” “How on earth would I use this with students?” etc. etc. etc.
In all honesty, I really had no idea what I was doing.  That’s why I quit Twitter.  But it’s not the only reason, and it’s certainly not the most important reason.   
A Confession About Feeling Inadequate:
This is a feeling that I fear is far more pervasive among teachers, but no one would dare admit it:
I felt completely inadequate to be engaging in professional discourse with all the amazing educational professionals online.  What could I possible offer them? No one will want to follow me.
I let the vastness and intense interconnectedness on Twitter intimidate me into submission. I slid into that dreaded territory of self-doubt and that was the end of my Twitter life.  Granted there were other things going on in the real world at the time that added to my growing sense of professional inadequacy, but it became an infection I couldn’t shake in my virtual life and my real life. 
If you know me personally, you may be surprised by my confession. I am considered (I think) to be a pretty confident, assertive (sometimes outspoken), honest, outgoing person. Many people come to me for advice, with questions and to bounce ideas off of. I have been providing PD for the teachers at my school and my fellow teacher-librarians for years. But for some reason I just didn’t think I had anything to share in that vastest of places: the Internet. Even as I write this I know that last statement is a preposterous one if you consider the number of blogs, wikis, lessons and PD I’ve contributed to (although probably not well known or well circulated . . . see there’s that little bit of inadequacy still rearing its ugly head!)
But if I felt (or still feel sometimes?) inadequate in sharing online, then how do other teachers who are far less tech savvy, far less brave, far less self-assured, far less honest with themselves and far less willing to put themselves out there in the world feeling about this new (not so new!) age we teach in?
If I’ve learned anything from my reflections on this it is the following:
1.       Teachers need more than a cursory PD on a tool. Even if they don’t think they need it. Or complain about how it was “too much time spent” on one tool.  If we don’t know how to use it properly, we won’t use it at all.

2.       To all teachers everywhere: You have something to add. Your voice, your knowledge and your ideas have value. Someone somewhere needs you to share your insights! You are more than adequate!

3.       If at first you don’t succeed, try try again
And with that reverberating in my head I have Resurrected my Twitter life and am absolutely loving everything I’m finding there. 
With a special shout out to George Couros for his recent PD in Winnipeg that made me realize I had given up too soon and that I DO have a lot to offer!