Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

March 19, 2015
by leesensei
3 Comments

New to Twitter? – Tips on the Journey from Lurking to Listing to Chat…

Twitter_bird_logoI have seen a lot of new faces in the #langchat discussions lately and its a reminder that educators are continuing to discover the benefits of what a Twitter Personal Learning Network can be. Learning to manage your PLN, can take some time – as you configure what works for you. I wanted to repost some tips that I gathered as I began my Twitter journey and hopefully they will be helpful to you too!

Who you are – I noticed that I followed people that shared a bit about who they were – and what they are interested in. I made sure my profile tells a bit of that. Also I quickly learned to get rid of the egg. If you don’t want to share your photo there are lots of publicly licensed images to draw from. People share a lot on twitter and your profile is an indication that you will too.

Who You Follow – As I began to build my personal learning network (PLN) I didn’t know a hashtag from a MT. But I knew something exciting was happening for educators on Twitter. So I began with a direct search (‘languages twitter teaching), then I learned about hashtags. I followed a few who seemed to have something to say. I also look to who they follow for more possibilities. Tailor your PLN to what you want easily this way. You may at times edit who you follow – and this is okay too as it shows you are becoming more purposeful in constructing your PLN.

Turn Off Retweets? – This is a personal choice decision. I was finding that my Twitter stream was crowded with tweets that were just simple ‘retweets’ (RTs) . I’m not talking about RTs that feature comments added by the people I follow. Just RTs with no context or comment. For me they clutter up my Twitter stream. So when I follow someone I choose to “Turn Off Retweets”. I get a lot of what is retweeted still – but with pertinent comments by my PLN – reasons, according to them, why I should look at what is being retweeted.

Go Public – Initially the temptation is to ‘lock’ your account – it allows you to determine who follows you. The control is initially key. But – and it’s a big but – it also locks you out from participating in general chats because only your followers will see what you tweet. Yes there will be spammers – those who follow you for reasons other than ‘learning’. All you need to do is click on the ‘wheel’ next to the follow button on their profile and ‘block’ them. The rewards of being public outweigh the annoyance of the occasional spam follower.

Listing – As you follow I recommend that you start to list. Make the lists based upon why you chose to follow in the first place – if you looked at the profile. Maybe you follow for more than one reason. As you follow more and more lists make it easy to cut through the noise and get a ‘hit’ of what you want. For me  – I visit my ‘edtech’, ‘langchat’, and ‘japanese teachers’ when I can and I love that my stream is sorted into these convenient categories.

Lurking – Most of us start as ‘lurkers’…watching the stream, finding out information. Initially maybe I wasn’t sure that I had much to say. I was excited to see what was out there – so I watched, found people to follow, expanded my PLN gradually and thoughtfully. Lurking is the first step as you take time to learn more about what Twitter can offer. I know many who right now only lurk – but I’ll be eventually they will be confident enough to begin to share!

Chat – The scheduled ‘chat’, for me #langchat, is the most powerful pro-d I know of – each week something new to learn and discuss. We often work in isolation and the chat gives us a community to share and learn from. I use Tweetdeck or Tweetchat during these to allow me  to follow the stream exclusively. Introduce yourself and your reason for being on the chat. Some chats are huge and the stream flows – but keep with it and gradually you’ll find your voice in the discussion. Many chats will publish a digest – like #langchat does – that allows you to see the ‘big’ takeaways from the time. If you find yourself noticing certain tweets more than others that just may be someone to follow!

It is said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step…I encourage you to dip your toe into Twitter and begin constructing a PLN – your teaching will be the better for it!

Colleen

September 10, 2014
by leesensei
5 Comments

What #langchat Means to Me (And To You?)

frontWhen did you (have you) discover #langchat? It started for me as a hashtag I noticed in a tweet from Joe Dale (@joedale) about language teaching. I was new to this whole twitter thing and, as a language teacher, looking for some insight and inspiration for my teaching. Then, after following a woman named Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell (@secottrell) I learned about the Thursday #langchat hashtag chat. I began, as many do, by lurking, watching and reading. Eventually I took the plunge to start tweeting in. I haven’t looked back.

I thought the other day about what #langchat means to me and why both the hashtag (for daily tweeting) and the chat (Thursdays 8pmET & Saturdays 10amET) are so key in who I am as a professional today. What do I like about #langchat?

#langchat- the hashtag –  is my daily dose of learning & discovery – Have a question? Want a resource? Looking to discover something new. I learn every day via tweets sent out with the #langchat hashtag. Teachers using it are generous, supportive and quick to offer up ideas, opinions and resources that I would never find on my own. Checking in on the #langchat stream is a must for me – and it’s never let me down in answer a query or offering up a suggestion when I’ve needed it. There are those with whom I interact, collaborate and plan more often than I do simply on a professional day – for me now every day is a day to learn

#langchat- the chat – reaffirms that I am on the right track: Teaching can often be a ‘solitary’ pursuit. The chance to be observed or network with fellow staff can be few and far between. But during a chat I often find that I am indeed doing things, and choosing approaches that others are too. It’s nice to know that in my ‘isolated’ classroom I am on target, or not!,  for how to deliver my language program.

#langchat  – the chat – offers approaches/ideas/resources on a specific topic: Chats are really focused with a weekly theme voted on by participants. What a great way to have some concentrated work on one area. It may be pedagogical one week, and class ‘management’ the next. It can be about new trends or a ‘brush up’ on existing challenges. In all cases it is timely, lively and a real challenge to me to focus on my teaching practice.

#langchat  – the hashtag & chat – gives me a look into the future:  Many of my #langchat colleagues are in districts or positions that are ‘leaders’ in their field. Although my school may not be at that point, I get tips on where we might be headed. It also allows me to be a ‘leader’ in my school – challenging the status quo and assisting in change.

Quite simply I would not be the teacher I am today without it. I wouldn’t be striving to be the teacher I want to be, pushing, stretching, questioning my practice without it. My #langchat PLN is my key go-to for my Professional Development. The other day my sister-in-law phoned. It was 6:05pmPT on a Thursday and my sister-in-law’s opening was “Oh it’s Thursday – I’m not interuppting #langchat am I?”  And that’s when I knew how important it was to me!

And now a favour to ask of you! Have you benefited from #langchat? What has it meant to  you? #langchat will be presenting “#Langchat – Your Always-There Professional Learning Network” at ACTFL 2014. If you would be kind enough to share (via a comment) – we’d like to share some of your thoughts with those who are coming to learn more.

Colleen

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