I am the 4th of 4 children and was raised in a family that taught me to share. Eat at McDonalds, get a small bag of french fries–share with all of your siblings. You don’t need a new pair of rainboots or a new bicycle, you can just use your older siblings’ (even though the rainboots barely fit and the bike had no brakes by that time, I can tell you stories!) And so I grew up to be a person who likes to share. I like people. I like stuff that works for me. And I like to share the stuff that works for me with the people I like.
And then I was introduced to Twitter. I was a reluctant Twitter user, never touched social media in my life and had just barely gotten a smart phone. Facebook? I can just talk to my friends’ real faces! If I have something to tell you, I’ll call, or I’ll wait til the next time we’re together. But, it turns out that Twitter is the ultimate way to share!
My coach set me up on Twitter in the fall, and I’ve been tweeting ever since. It was fun to share the students’ adventures at camp and then to share the happenings in my classroom with the few people who happened to be following me! I walked down the halls, saw great teaching and proudly tweeted out all of the good stuff happening at my school to share with the Twitter universe. I began to unlock the treasures of Twitter and wanted to share its benefits with my co-workers. When I first became my school’s unofficial Twitter advocate, I faced people who were not as interested in Twitter as I was. Some people were disinterested, others were scared, and a few just downright opposed to the whole platform. Somehow I got the reputation as the teacher who tweets; it became the campus joke/bone of contention–you’re not going to tweet that are you? Or you should tweet that! How did I become the poster child for Twitter?!
I kept tweeting and quietly encouraged anyone who would listen to give Twitter a try. I encouraged my long-time co-worker to get a coach, learn to tweet and see where it led. And she did!! She’s still tweeting (and much much more!)! I helped my PE teacher colleague, sign up for Twitter, helped her with a few tweets and she was off and running. (I was and am so proud of her!) I didn’t force anyone to join, but I was always willing to help anyone who wanted to join and learn.
Then Twitter inspired another opportunity for sharing. I am proud of my school and my colleagues. Lots of great things are happening here, but we don’t always know or get to enjoy the happenings of the other classrooms. One year we had a student-free day after Open House and we did a Gallery Walk throughout our colleagues’ classrooms. It was so great to see what was happening across the campus.
And then I had this “good idea,” what if we shared all the great things happening at our school, with a wider audience; what if we had the ultimate Gallery Walk on Twitter?! I shared my “good idea” with my principal. I am grateful that she believed in me, trusted my judgment and immediately endorsed and supported my concept, thus #onedayFA was born! We planned to tweet out from every single classroom, to also take pictures in every single classroom to use for a yearbook spread and to also create a promotional video.
These are the steps we took to prepare:
- Choose a date.
- Get staff support of the day and agreement upon the date right away.
- Decide on our hashtag.
- Recruit photographers and Tweeters.
- Develop the photo/tweeting schedule–probably the most important, color-coding really helps.
- Make plans for non-photo-released kids, need to notify the teachers, photographers & tweeters.
- Advertise the event.
- Sign up all willing people on Twitter.
- Make a tweeting instruction sheet for all tweeters, emphasizing the hashtag and the handles to add, especially important for new tweeters.
Things came together quite smoothly for our big day. We presented our concept and date to the staff and everyone agreed, though none of us really knew what we were agreeing to! My coach helped me to process and plan. We found experienced parent photographers; I even recruited an alumni mom who is a great photographer. The way more experienced at tweeting than I am tech coaches enthusiastically agreed to come tweet, I had no worries; we were in good hands. My principal and AP also offered to tweet.
My counselor is a scheduling master, she skillfully set up the schedule, making every tweak requested and color-coding everything and everyone. We were fortunate that Open House was the week before our event. The PTSA president pushed out our event to the PTSA parents and the info was posted on the Facebook Page. We printed 60 posters to advertise the event and placed them on everyone’s doors and throughout the hallways. My coach came and shared about the event with the 5th grade/incoming 6th-grade parents and offered Twitter help in the hallway. A handful of parents signed up that night. I added #onedayFA to every tweet I sent out, I invited people to join us on 3-22-17 and I crossed my fingers.
Things started to come together. More co-workers appeared on Twitter. More parents signed up. The last non-photo-released student was released the day before, phew And then #onedayFA was here. The tech coaches and I shared the admin of the school Twitter account for that day. I knew it was too much work for one person to retweet everything. My co-worker started us off our day early in the morning by tweeting out a picture of her coffee mug and commenting about gearing up for #onedayFA –what a brilliant introduction! I beat my principal to school. I took pictures of the empty campus and tweeted out our welcome to #onedayFA to whoever was following. I tweeted out my principal arriving at school.
And then the tweets began to fly. I was so proud of my co-workers, they really stepped up and the tweets continued all day long. #onedayFA showed the morning car line, a surprise fire drill, community circles in math, cooking in the foods classes, robots traveling through the halls, science kids putting together science raps, music kids performing, the office staff, P.E. students practicing pivot drills and throwing frisbees, dance class, & theater in 360, prepping for the geo quiz in history, comic strip project in art, murder mystery in English and so much more. As the day continued along, I learned even more about my colleagues’ classrooms and I saw the number of our schools’ followers increase a great deal! So cool! So happy to share!
The day was amazing. We lucked out in many ways. There are things I would do differently next time. But thanks to my colleagues both at First Ave, from the district and support from the community, we pulled it off; all the pieces came together for a great day. It truly does take a village and I’m grateful for 3-22-17 #onedayFA when we had the opportunity to share our village, First Avenue Middle School, with the village called Twitter.