Twitter and Facebook might soon replace traditional professional development for teachers. Instead of enduring hours-long workshops a few times a year, teachers could reach out to peers on the Internet in real time for advice on things like planning a lesson (or salvaging a lesson that’s going wrong), overcoming classroom management problems, or helping students with disabilities.
Or, at least, that’s what a group of Internet-savvy educators who convened in New York City this week are hoping.
“Being connected [through social-networking sites] is an opportunity for growth anytime, anywhere,” said Steve Anderson, director of instructional technology for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in North Carolina, speaking yesterday at the second annual #140edu conference, a reference to Twitter’s 140 character limit for tweets. A teacher can go on Twitter, he added, and “learn 10 new things.”
Traditional forms of on-the-job training for teachers have been much-maligned in recent years by experts and by teachers themselves. “Many times professional development is like herding cattle: We’re taking everybody in the same direction. We’re going to learn the same thing,” said Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in northern New Jersey.