Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Twitter. has. changed. my. teaching.

About a year ago, I began to hate Facebook for the unnecessary intimate details I read daily about everyone I knew. Around that same time, I began to enjoy Instagram for the simplicity of a picture with a caption.  But now Twitter is becoming my new obsession for its combination of the strengths of other social media: simplicity (just 140 characters) and access to everyone and everything. 

(Found on Twitter, ironically.)

My school corporation (and especially my building principal) really encouraged all teachers to create a Twitter profile at the beginning of the year, "because it is leading the new wave of professional development in education."  I was skeptical. I pictured all the celebrity twitter accounts that middle school students flock towards and I couldn't imagine what I would gain from participating. I had recently attended Lorinda Kline's presentation "Twitter 101" at the local (AND AMAZING) E3Tech conference where I learned the basics of what Twitter has to offer and I created my account.  However, my principal really peaked my curiosity with his avid endorsement of using social media as a tool.  I dove in.

What I found AMAZED me.  I still categorize myself at the "AHA!" stage of the scale given above because I am still just dipping my toes in the incredible amount of resources and knowledge available for teachers on Twitter. Here is a list of the top 5 ways to use Twitter if you are a teacher (although there are countless more) :

  1. Twitter Chats: Join in all types of real-time online conversations taking place on twitter between educators.  A chat will be scheduled ahead of time by a moderator who will then tweet out questions at specific intervals.  You can "lurk" (read along without participating) or tweet answers back and reply to others.  Chats are some of the best ways to get new ideas, share your observations and also connect with dozens of educators, administrators and educational gurus around the world.  Read this to understand how to participate and look over this list to find some chats you might be interested in!
  2. Articles: Many educators will send out links to what they have recently read. Instantly, you have easy access to multiple books and articles that come highly recommended. Here is one that I have read recently thanks to Twitter.
  3. Inspiration & Encouragement: When you are feeling discouraged or frustrated, Twitter is full of funny pictures, quotes, and memes regarding our jobs and problems.  There are also an unlimited number of quotes about education that serve as a great reminder in the midst of all the chaos. This one really stuck out to me.
  4. Blog Updates: If you enjoy reading blogs (she says on her blogpost...) then Twitter is great way to get notifications when your favorite bloggers write a new post.  Many bloggers will tweet a link to a new post (like my favorite blogger, Maris, does).  And many "Tweeps" (people on twitter) will have a link to their blog in their profile (like you see here on Allison's page), so you might even find brand new blogs to check out.
  5. Conference Snippets: Have you ever wished you could attend a professional development conference but you were stuck at home instead?  Thanks to Twitter, many times you can follow what is going on by reading tweets with a hashtag that represent that conference.  People who did attend might quote speakers, post pictures, or relay their reflections for the benefit of everyone who had to miss out.  Search hashtags like #campmusicuentos, #iste2015, #allwrite and #e3tech and read what's been going on.

Summer is a perfect time to get away from the paperwork, grading, phone calls, and late nights associated with teaching. Even while traveling, spending time with family, attending or ditching a conference here and there, and spending some time near the water everyone can still find some time to create a profile on Twitter and begin to use these suggestions to move from "denial" to "curiosity."  Start now! You never know what you may find and how it may positively affect your teaching this coming fall. Tweet away future "tweachers"!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

From One Dream Job to the Next...

Teaching Spanish at Lakeview Middle School is my dream job!  

I have used that phrase many times throughout the past three years because it has been as perfect as I can imagine any teaching job being.  My corporation is progressive and innovative. My administrators are supportive, encouraging and trusting.  My co-workers embrace me as family.  My department is collaborative, open minded and growing.  My Spanish and pedagogy are constantly improving thanks to the ongoing professional learning available in my corporation. My students are intriguing, challenging and impressive.  I love my schedule.  I love my job description.  I love my classroom.  I love my freedom.  I. LOVE. MY. JOB.

And I know not everyone can say that.  I truly appreciate the unique and wonderful situation I have been in the past few years because I know it is rare.

And, yet, I have chosen to pursue a different career starting this fall.  I will be mothering my daughter, Naya.  I will be trying so hard to speak to her entirely in Spanish.  I will be taking care of our home.  I will be (hopefully) mastering the art of saying no to certain things so I can say yes to better things.

I believe with all my heart that "staying at home" is a full time teaching job.  I will lesson plan.  I will think of effective procedures.  I will evaluate.  I will conference.  I will loop with my student year after year.  I will never have weekends or holidays off, and yes I will even share a home with this little student!  Creepy?  Sort of.  Intimidating?  Definitely.  But motivating?  HECK YES.

I choose to see it as exchanging one dream job for the next.  It would be so difficult for me to say good-bye to teaching at Lakeview if I felt that I was settling for something less amazing.  And while I am confident that I will miss so many aspects of my former dream job, I can honestly say I look very forward to all that my current dream job holds. I love my new schedule.  I love my new job description.  I love my new "classroom". I love our new freedom.  I. LOVE. MY. NEW. JOB.

As for you all (my lovely readers...hello? Anyone there?), I fully intend to spend this time making this blog more user-friendly! I hope to get caught up with the dozens upon dozens of great drafts that have been sitting on my blogger dashboard unfinished. I plan to attend conferences, read books and continue to brainstorm on ways to effectively teach languages to students (but who am I kidding? I have a 9 month old! Be patient.) 

Let's be clear:  Being a mother is now my dream job! One that I didn't even know I dreamed of, to be honest.  But one that I am THRILLED to pursue.

Keep reading!  I'll always be passionate about sharing ideas for language learning here.