Can Twitter Change School Culture? It is for me!

Twitter PD

How did my school go from almost ZERO twitter connections, to being part of a CIS Ontario-wide movement to connect on Twitter with other schools across disciplines and grades? What started as zero twitter chatter within my school, grew quickly to over 15 teachers, either starting new with Twitter or repositioning their Tweets to connect with colleagues. On topics as diverse as Physics, LGBT issues, and the Toronto Election, #BVGLearns is now part of a conversation with #YorkLearns and #LCSLearns.


Over the month of October, I introduced a “Connected Educators’ Ninja Warrior Training Program.” Borrowed from Scott MacGlintic, I modified it for our teachers and away I went. I introduced it the next day as an optional experience, but one with great rewards: click here to see the whole program.  I wasn’t sure how this was going to be received: woudl this be a welcome challenge? Too simple, too much, or just too new?

#BVGLearns Ninjas!

I quickly discovered there was a hunger for this type of PD; for these types of conversations; for these types of connections. There were Twitter experts in our midst, and there are 4 no-longer-newbies to Twitter.

While it is hard to say what the concrete correlations are to these connections, it is obvious that my colleagues have enjoyed a increased awareness on issues that they are concerned with, and following.


One of my favourite moments was after a Lunch & Learn session on Learning Goals.TweetPic Tom Oz Tom Osborne (@a_tombomb) went to his class and posted this picture with prompt: (see insert on the right). He is modeling risk-taking and life-long learning with his colleagues.

This is an excellent example of using Twitter to extend the conversation, and engage colleagues in real-world PD. This post was a conversation both on Twitter and in the hallways, F2F.



Adybala1 Another great story is from @adybala2, who is new to Twitter, but in one month has learned and grown in her use to a sophisticated level. Running Student Vote is no easy feat, but by leveraging connections on Twitter, she was able to grab great resources,Adybala2 and embed new ideas within her class with ease.  She is an experienced teacher, modeling risk-taking and life-long learning with her students. She grew from lurking, to retweeting, to retweeting with her own comments, and ultimately to her own unique posts about learning, her classroom, and her school. Where will she go next?!

My big take-away from this Connected Educators’ Ninja Warrior Training program, is that I’ve learned a lot about my school as a Learning Organization, as well as a lot about my colleagues. However, I think that one of the most important things that came out of this was that my colleagues now know more about who I am: an avid tweeter, risk-taker, life-long learner, and someone passionate about shifting the education paradigm for the 21st Century. I like to think that when I run in-house PD, my faculty won’t be surprised by my ideas, my passion nor dedication to supporting them on this journey.

I encourage everyone reading this post to drop in on the #BVGLearns conversation. It’s a great mix of teachers working together, learning together and connecting together. I’d also like to thank my colleagues for engaging in this experience, and it is my hope that we can continue down this path together.



13 thoughts on “Can Twitter Change School Culture? It is for me!

  1. Thanks for this, Garth. Bringing Twitter to my faculty here at SAC is something I’ve been working on for a while now and you’ve given me some inspiration to ‘pivot’ and move forward with the initiative. I may be hitting you up with some questions about the process in the near future.

  2. I love what BVG has accomplished with the #BVGLearns and the Ninja Warrior Program. How do you make clear what being a ‘connected educator’ really is. I know that I find it difficult sometimes to make ‘tweets’ meaningful for conversation, learning, and your PLN. Great post, and I applaud you on the BVG movement. We are having fun with the #LCSLearns and some are really buying in.

    1. Hi Tim,

      Yes the #SchoolAcronymLearns is great fun. I would love to deepen this even further too! Not sure how just yet… As for knowing what a connected educator is, I think it is more of a frame of mind supported by deliberate action. A few great examples are in our latest blogs from members: the shift in mindset, the courage of writing their first blog/tweet etc… all the way to Ed Hitchcock, who was just at ECOO conference presenting on flipping his classroom…

      Let’s keep this conversation going!

  3. Garth,
    Twitter and online PD is the future (and now) of PD in education. Although face-to-face conferences are also important, online PD is something that is more sustainable over time and continually has you thinking and improving your practice daily (if you check your Twitter). How often do you go to a conference and come back to school the next day and forget/don’t have time to implement what you learned? There is no support system in place. Unlike on Twitter, your PLC is there to support and encourage you, while also critiquing your work for the better. I also like that Twitter allows you to work at your own speed. Pick one thing you see that can work in your classroom and try it out and use at a speed and way that works best for you and your students.
    Although this is PE influenced, Joey Feith out of Montreal created a really nice tutorial on the basics of how to use Twitter effectively. Not that you need this specifically, but always helpful for teachers new to Twitter to check out.

    1. Thanks Marcus,

      I appreciate any and all resources. What my challenge is ahead is to keep up the momentum…I’ve devising some tasks, challenges and badges for the month of December around classroom digital education and their own professional development. I’ll keep you informed!


  4. Thanks Garth for encouraging me to get into twitter! I’m starting to see the benefits of this tool in connecting me with other educators and sharing ideas. I’ve still got lots of learning to do, but that’s the fun part!

  5. Garth,
    You have made twitter and the whole world of digital education and social media a whole lot less scary! I thank you for your patience (I am a newbie) and your contagious enthusiasm!

  6. As per my tweet, Twitter has the potential to open up PD. It needs to go beyond “favouriting” a tweet. I recently followed a twitter conversation about LGBT issues at schools. Perhaps the 140 character limit affects communication- so many of the postings were merely platitudes. Nonetheless, the participants, and the postings, can lead one to other resources, and other participants, on the web.

    1. Thanks Norm! You should check out Google+ for great communities where the conversations are deeper, and can be more rich in how you find and interact with ppl exploring the same areas/issues…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *