How fast is fast?
According to a recently somewhat outdated article, @twitter has approximately 200 million tweets per day (http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/30/twitter-3200-million-tweets). Yesterday marked my first month on @twitter. During that time I sent out about 325 tweets, followed 140 people, read thousands of tweets, numerous articles, websites, blog posts, and was followed by 130 people. Not to mention, my @youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/drspikecook) has had 130 visitors, my personal blog 120 visitors and the school blog has had 130 visitors. 8 of those were from out of the United States! I was also able to share my new found discovery with many educators at work, and they ended up starting their journey. Things move pretty fast on or because of @twitter!
What I found
Through @twitter I have connected with like-minded individuals throughout the world. At first, I concentrated on fellow principals. I wanted to know what they were doing. It was during this point of discovery that I was inspired. I read their blogs, tweets, and anything they suggested. For a brief moment, I thought to myself, “There is no way I can do this. I cannot keep up with them.” As I read and explored further, I found that these principals valued professional development and the Professional Learning Network (PLN). It was same direction I felt myself getting pulled into, but I thought to myself, “I have no idea how to make a blog; I don’t have a laptop, iPhone, or an Android. Not to mention, I have no idea how all this technology works. It still blows my mind that it is all zeros and ones (that is for another blog).”
Digging deeper into the nuances of “twitterverse”, I have found that I had everything I need. I am fortunate to have a Blackberry through work and access to the internet at home and work (well, when my 7 and 4 year olds are not on it). So, I did what any other connector (thanks Malcom Gladwell, @Gladwell) would do. I started asking everyone in the ‘know.’ I met with teachers who were considered technology savvy (@RyanHudson9, @carrie2226), emailed friends, talked with my Karate Sensei (@Sensei_Nick) , and our technology specialist (@AliciaDiscepola). I emailed my superintendent (@drgentile_mps) and asked him if I could do this. After stating my case for a PLN by providing him with links to other principal blogs, twitter posts, and school based information, he gave me the green light.
What I did
One weekend in early January I took the plunge. I told my wife my plan. “Honey, I am going to start a blog, join twitter and other social networks.” She looked at me quizzically and said, “You don’t even like Facebook. How are you going to do this?” I showed her the examples, and she gave me that look she always does when I have ideas. She then took the kids to a birthday party. I signed up for a blog, twitter, linkedin, google+, and a youtube channel. The rest of the weekend I learned, explored, and finally sent out my first tweet, “A thousand mile journey begins with one step.” I went through all of my contacts on my cell phone and told them about my new twitter account. I went through all of my email contacts and did the same. Then I waited, and waited. Not much action. Uh oh, was I a social media dud? Slowly, I started to get followers. My brother and sister climbed on board, but I had to wait for my good friend @cfzimmerman because he was ‘locked’. It took a few days to get confirmed. Slowly, I started to see trends, like inserting “hash-tags”. I crept around the internet looking for any educational news that I could get my paws on, so that I too could send something out into the “twitterverse”. Similar to a snowball, and I am not sure how or when this really happened, but things started to roll and roll.
One day my superintendent, @drgentile_mps called and asked me to go to lunch. Surely, I figured, I had done something wrong and he was going to tell me to find another job. He picked me up and asked how things were going. I told him about the school and general life happenings. He then asked me this question, “So I looked at all your links and your ideas, and I have to ask how you are planning on doing all of this?” “Oh, that?” I replied, “Well…” Turns out, he was very excited, intended to help me think through the process, and told me that he would support me. I made sure to tell him that it was not just me, and that I was getting a lot of help behind the scenes from @AliciaDiscepola.
I had several meetings with @AliciaDiscepola. She helped deepen my understanding of twitter and blogging. She supported me with almost 24 hour tech support. She helped me turn ideas into reality. I would show her a blog and say, “I want that!” I would show her video blogs, and say, “I am going to do this.” I am not sure what I would have done without @AliciaDiscepola. Funny thing, many of the people who joined twitter in my district began calling her too. During this time, I talked incessantly about @twitter to anyone that would listen. Well, not everyone, of course. I did not bore the kids with my new found discovery.
Alicia and I set out a plan for my school #rmbacon. She saw what I was trying to do with the school blog (courtesy of @WiscPrincipal) and helped me develop the RM Bacon Weekly (http://www.rmbaconweekly.blogspot.com). She navigated me through the technical aspects of embedding videos, links, etc., to that website. I found that this medium was not too different from my Monday Memos that were inspired from a great mentor, Dr. Piera Gravenor. I had information to convey to the staff, but a lot of it also applied to the school community, parents, and the other elementary schools in the district. Once @AliciaDiscepola helped me with the framework, I felt that I could accomplish this in addition to my personal blog.
We began partnering up on posts, tweets, and most importantly, ideas. She had to put up with all of my jokes and technology hang ups. She was very patient with me as I constantly asked, “How does this work again?” We went through my “old” blog, and she encouraged me to update the posts on my new blog, (http://drspikecook.com). After that meeting, when everyone had cleared out of the school, I sequestered myself in my office and copied, pasted, re-wrote, and downloaded pictures. A few hours later, I called my wife and told her I would be home soon (I think I got home at 9:00 PM that night).
We scheduled a social media presentation for Thursday, February 2. I invited all of the administration, other principals, and of course, #rmbacon faculty. When @AliciaDiscepola sent me the final copy of the prezi on Wednesday evening, I asked if it would be OK to tweet. I thought it would be neat for anyone who was following me to see the prezi before it was actually presented. Not too long after I tweeted the prezi, I received a mention that the prezi was highlighted on the PCM Tech Tribune for Wednesday, February 1st. When we were setting up that morning for the presentation, 50 people had already viewed it. We spent about 25 minutes on the prezi. After we were finished, I had to go right into another presentation on our #pbis data. Honestly, I didn’t think people connected to the @twitter presentation until that evening, and the next and the next. In 3 days we had a total of 15 staff (teachers, custodians, aides, and secretaries) associated with #rmbacon on @twitter!
The highs and lows of the first month on @twitter
- Meeting the Wisconsin principal connection through twitter and reading their blogs (@howeprincipal, @WiscPrincipal, @PrincipalJ)
- Following Eric Sheringer (@NMHS_Principal) and all that he is doing to further education
- Sending out my 100th tweet
- Having @bhsprincipal help me with the widget for Connected Principals (@conprin)
- Reading the excellent posts on Connected Principals (@conprin)
- Getting my 100th follower (@katpam3 from Alabama)
- Getting followed by @MarzanoResearch
- Watching teachers in my building #rmbacon join and immediately share with each other on @twitter
- Tweeting pictures of the walkthroughs and school activities
- Reading the tweets from other administrators in Millville Public Schools
- Filming the first 2 installments of the RM Bacon Weekly Video update with my co-host Marissa http://www.rmbaconweekly.blogspot.com
- Viewing the @clustrmaps on my personal blog and showing my own kids where people were from who read my blog
- Understanding that countless learners will benefit from the PLN @twitter through greater access to technology, ideas, and resources
- Getting a cryptic message from @howeprincipal that people were saying bad things about me
- Frantically calling my superintendent @drgentile_mps to tell him that there is a web site that is saying bad things about me
- Learning that @howeprincipal was hacked and that no one was saying bad things….yet
Being a principal in a systematic driven district #millvilleboe, I am sure that this will be just the start of great things for the community, schools, students, parents, teachers, and other staff. I feel more invested in the 21st century. I hope to one day share my knowledge with others who are ready to join the PLN. I will continue to post on my own blog and the school blog. I hope to get a more updated technology set up. Until then, happy tweeting! Make sure to write down the time.
One last thing
How many tweets do you think were sent out during the time you read this blog? Here is a simple calculation that can give you an estimate:
____(amount of minutes you took to read this post)
= _____ the estimated number of tweets sent during the time it took to read this.
How fast is fast?
More information on@twitter: