Hashtags & Professional Development, Really?!

hashtags-professional-developmentreallyHow many years have you been a teacher . . . is this your 20th year (wow, congrats!!), 10th year, 1st year (good luck!) How do you stay current with education topics, especially in our field of Business Education?

No matter how long you have taught, staying current with what’s going on in Education and Business Education is essential in keeping you energized and knowledgeable. Those Century 21st skills we keep hearing about – Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity – professional development is just one avenue you can follow so you can teach your students the skills and content they will need in and out of school.

We are all busy, I get it, and once school really gets going it is a challenge to take the time to attend professional development workshops (that aren’t mandated) and for some of us, the funding needed to attend a conference is non-existent or has to come from our own pocket, which isn’t always possible. So, how do YOU stay professionally developed?  How do YOU learn about what’s going on in other classrooms and across the globe if you can’t attend the conferences?  What if you are only 1 of 3 Business Education teachers in a school?  For me the answer is #TWITTER, and before you groan or say “I’m not into social media” keep in mind your students are into social media and Twitter is not only for YOU but for them!

Twitter is not “one more thing” you have to add to your already full plate, it should be one of those “essential vitamins and minerals” added to your daily diet, something you can take a quick dose of when needed.  Or….when possible, sit down for the full-course meal by participating in a Twitter chat specific to your interests (#petlovers, #gardenchat), your discipline (#finlit, #entrepreneurship, #accounting)  and you can even have dessert (a virtual conversation with a member of your Personal Learning Community – PLC) and not feel guilty about the extra calories!! Okay, enough with the food metaphors, but I hope you get what I mean….

I challenge you, take 5-10 minutes to start your Twitter account. Start by going to twitter.com, click “Sign Up” and off you go!  Two key things to include 1) a picture of you to replace the generic egg and 2) a short description of you (ex: Business Education teacher looking to connect with other educators).

Later in the day (after the school day ends, when you’re taking a quick break), read this document https://goo.gl/vpyko  – created by  @alicekeeler – and you’ll be introduced to some guidelines that will help you get started.  Alice is one of the first people I followed when I joined Twitter over a year ago.  Follow educators that you can learn from, that challenge you, and most of all – keep you energized throughout the school year and yes, even summer!

For Business Education teachers, connect with #busedu – a group of Business Education teachers who chat the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month.  Here’s the calendar of topics for 2016-2017 and host @mickie_mueller starts things off October 4. For a reminder, sign up hereand a Remind message will be sent to you via text or email.

Another essential chat, and this is for all Twitter users, is #nt2t – New Teachers to Twitter – that meets on Saturday mornings, 9:00 a.m. EST.  Here you can learn about the basics of Twitter in a friendly and supportive environment with moderators @shyj and @stephwurking. As with any chat, you can just read the tweets (lurk) – you don’t have to post anything until you feel comfortable.

One final resource (another wonderful educator I follow) is @cultofpedagogy  (Jennifer Gonzalez) who posted at her website So you have a Twitter account, Now What? A quick read on Twitter and how to use.

Take the 5-10 minutes and connect with others outside of your school, your state, and even the United States.  You’ll be amazed at what is going on and best of all it’s #FREE and it’s on YOUR own schedule.  I can honestly say I have learned more through my connections on Twitter than by attending Professional Development workshops. It just took me getting started and gradually finding those 5-10 minutes every so often to check things out. It isn’t a daily commitment, it’s a “whenever you have a moment” commitment and from then on it’s what you make it out to be.

Whether you’ve been teaching “forever” or just starting out, you owe it to yourself, your co-workers, and to your students to stay professionally developed and to stay energized as you continue to teach in an always-changing educational world . . . Twitter is one more tool to help you out!

Good luck, enjoy, and have a great 2016-2017 school year!


About the blogger: Mary Brandt-White has over 19 years of teaching experience. She teaches Business Education courses at Glastonbury High School, Glastonbury, CT and was responsible for starting the DECA chapter at her school. She served as DECA advisor for 10 years and is currently advisor for the school store. In addition to teaching Mary has coached field hockey and softball. Integrating technology into her courses has been an integral focus for Mary as her district is a GAFE district and has recently transitioned to a 1:1 iPad initiative at the high school level. Connect with her on Twitter @teachmbw or at teachmbw.wordpress.com.

This blog post was relaunched on mbea-ma.org with permission from the blogger. You may find the original post HERE.

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