We were all caught off guard by the Coronavirus. When I heard we weren’t heading back to school for the rest of the year, I began to panic. Like many of you, I began asking myself: “What am I going to do? How am I going to teach students from home? What about assessments? How is this all going to work?” After thinking and asking myself these questions, I realized something: I know TONS of people that can help! Why would I try to do this alone? I have a great support system! Where? Twitter.
Those of you who don’t use social media as a professional resource might be surprised. Let me explain. The Twitter Physical Education (and education in general) professional learning network is like my second family. I remember first joining because I was having a tough time with assessments. Now, with the help of my support system, it has become a strength. I quickly realized that much of the problems I was having in class, other teachers had as well. Twitter is a gathering place for us to learn from each other. Teachers are constantly sharing ideas, providing resources, and answering questions others have. In addition, I have developed some wonderful friendships with teachers from around the world. I now look forward to attending and presenting at conferences knowing that I get to reunite with them. A few friends and I even collaborated via Zoom to do a virtual dance video to share with our students.
Let’s rewind to three years ago when I started. Because I was new, it seemed a bit scary. To help teachers get started, there is an easy to follow, 14-day Twitter Challenge, created b Jarrod Robinson. Each day, you complete a simple task to get you going (create an account, update profile, do your first “tweet”, etc.). This makes the process seem more manageable, more “digestible”. Once I got all signed up, I took the time to read other people’s posts about physical education. I then started to follow certain people that I found interesting. Then, I began to reply to their posts. I would engage in conversations and eventually create my own posts. Three years later, I’m so glad I did it. And, without even realizing it, so are my students.
Twitter has been especially important with the current distance learning. I log in to chat about how certain lessons went and to gather new resources that might be beneficial for my students. In just a few days, I was able to access hundreds of resources to use to continue teaching and inspiring my students from home. We used the hashtag #HPEatHome (Health and Physical Education at home), which gathers all resources posted on the topic and keeps them in one place for us to easily access. I studied these resources and determined which would best meet the needs of my students. I then began coming up with an outline and progression on what I want these away from school to look like. Through the app Class Dojo, I was able to quickly communicate with families. I then created and connected my students to my “google classroom”, where I can record myself teaching for my students to view. Typically, students complete a few challenges, and then post a picture/video to the classroom as evidence, where I can view and assess each one.
All of these resources have been shared via Twitter, my “support system”. Together, they have the experience, knowledge, and skills to help meet my teaching needs, ultimately helping me meet my students’ needs. They are also there to help emotionally when I get frustrated. The question is: Who is your support system?