Recently someone asked me why early childhood educators should connect through Twitter. She shared that her preferred social media platform for professional development is Pinterest.
I use Pinterest and I like Pinterest. Pinterest is a great tool for finding and sharing teaching materials and strategies. I think this is important and beneficial, but there is more to the field of early education than instructional materials, art projects, and thematic units. There are the philosophies, frameworks, and beliefs that lead us to choose the materials we are using. There is not just the “what”, there is the “why”. Why are we teaching what we are teaching, why are we teaching the way we are teaching, and why are we using the materials we are using? I am challenging early educators to move beyond Pinterest, because Pinterest isn't conducive to conversations. I am challenging early educators to take the next step and engage in conversations about early education on Twitter. The conversations taking place move beyond art projects and themes. On Twitter, early educators are challenging one another, discussing best practice, asking “why”, discussing research and advocating for developmentally appropriate practices. They are talking about the importance of early education, policies that shape our profession, and practices that are effective and not so effective in getting the results we hope to achieve. The conversation is taking place with or without you, I am hoping to convince you that it is worth your time to join the conversation, because our field needs more voices.
K-12 educators are reaping the numerous benefits of connecting with others through Twitter and blogging. The conversations they are having related to pedagogy, research, and what is working and not working in education, challenge individual educators to continue to improve and advance the education profession. These educators' voices are being heard. Policy makers are aware of the conversations and taking note. The field of early childhood education can not afford to miss out on the opportunities that Twitter presents to our profession.
Historically, early childhood has often been overlooked and not given the same respect or attention that is given to the K-12 world. Our field is finally getting some attention. This attention brings with it a great responsibility and sense of urgency. We need to show that as a field, we are also discussing pedagogy, research and “why”. We need to be recognized as a professional group who stays current, integrates research based practice, and knows how to teach. We need to connect and converse so our voices will be heard. We need to share failures and successes so we move our field forward. Collectively we have a rich experience and background, our conversations can encourage and support one another to be intentional in our teaching, leading to positive outcomes for the children and families we serve.
Another reason connecting in early education is beneficial is related to the concept of “burn out”. We have important, rewarding, and often challenging jobs. I have found that connecting with others has lessened my sense of burn out and has sparked a renewed passion in professional development. Knowing that others are facing similar challenges is reassuring. Hearing the strategies they are using to overcome these challenges is inspiring. Reading the latest research, discussing philosophy, beliefs and “why”, strengthens my resolve to integrate research based practices into my teaching and to adapt and improve. It also inspires me to advocate to do what we know is best for children even when faced with many barriers. Connecting with others leads to reflection, reflection moves you forward, moving forward helps you to avoid burn out, stay motivated and stay inspired.
Being a connected early educator benefits you, your profession and ultimately, your students. I hope you will consider joining in the conversation. My Twitter handle is @jodialtringer. To get started, consider searching the following hashtags; #earlyed, #earlyedsped, #kinderchat, #ecechat, #earlyintervention, #preschool, #childcare, and #preK. Talk to you on Twitter!