Type, Think and…and then Erase

I’ve probably erased more tweets than I’ve sent.  And I’ve posted over 22,000 tweets.

You’ve all been there, right?  You see a tweet that you just have to respond to, you type it out, all proud of yourself for the witty response, and then something says…Nah, better not.  And you erase it.

But sometimes you don’t.

ErasersSometimes you have somewhat of a fringe idea and you start writing a blog post, and then you decide, Nah, not worth it, and don’t post it.

But sometimes you hit publish anyway.

I’ve gone back and forth about the value of social media for me personally, mostly focusing on Twitter and my blog presence.   There have been times I have stopped tweeting, or just posted links to resources I have found valuable.  Sometimes I write posts, sometimes I don’t.  But I can tell you almost certainly, when I do write, I write mostly for myself to help clarify and define ideas I have.

What is interesting about all of this is the perception of value that a social media presence has.

What is interesting about all of this is how that presence creates a “connected” educator and why that is important.

Here is my most recent “Type, Think and Erase”

“So, you get up early on a Sunday for and you talk about substitute teachers?  Really?  That’s bold.”

I didn’t tweet it.  Why?  Because its simply not worth it, even though I truly believe that there are more important things to discuss that substitute teachers.  Is that really that important of a topic, given all the really important topics that could be discussed?

Is that what being connected means?

And yes, I get that it is more than the topic.  And that there are connections forged, and that there is some remediation of teacher isolation.  But…in the end, you used those connections to talk about substitute teachers!

As an educator, how bold are you in creating or replying to tweets?  Because with the explosion of people using Twitter, and its global reach, it is much more likely that whatever you say will offend someone.  And that can get ugly fast.   How do you balance representing your convictions with the realization that a simple retweet, or a tweet out of context, is something that can go south in a hurry.  Do you stay bold, or has it been your tendency to temper what you place online?  There’s an interesting tension there, and everyone has to decide.

How committed are you to voicing your fundamental beliefs through social media?

Of course, you have to balance a free voice against all of these risks, and there is certainly a continuum of risk associated with everything a person says, regardless of whether its in a social media venue or simply spoken.  Is that tweet worth it?  Is that blog post worth it?  Is your social media presence worth it?  When will people that have used social media for a long time simply opt out because the risk is simply just too high?  Perhaps it gets to the point where its just not worth it – when the cost of communicating your beliefs outweighs the benefits of being “connected.”

image credit:  Alejandro Mallea, Some Rights Reserved



  1. As someone who has posted nearly 5x as many tweets, I continue to marvel at how many people see Twitter as this great PD space. It’s no more a PD space than your local teachers lounge. Not that meaningful conversation can’t take place there but that’s not what it was designed for. And yes, I’m all for the notion of hacking spaces and understsnd that each of us use these spaces in slightly different ways, but to your point, the challenge of engaging in difficult conversations on Twitter remains.
    That’s the reason you took you’re idea here. So that those interested have to invest a little more time and thought to respond. And many will ignore and move on since this requires more effort than a tweet.

    The staff room is and was an important space for me. It was where we talked about last nights game, the goofy phone call from a parent, the thing I tried in class that flopped. Again, that’s not to say we didn’t occasionally have deeper discussions but that was the not the norm. Same with Twitter. I do engage in more challenging conversations on occasion but most often stop before I get in too deep knowing I can never have a proper conversation.

    My frustration is in wondering where people go to get challenged and pushed. Like you, my blog and blogs like yours is where I go for that deeper discussion. Since it seems like fewer folks are blogging, where are they being pushed? For me, Twitter will never be that place.

    • David Jakes says:

      I worry for education because of what I see on Twitter. It’s almost always about things seasoned educators should already know and have moved beyond. And if the views, ideas, and thoughts on Twitter represent those of “connected” educators (still very much a minority), and if that is a preferred state as most that call themselves connected believe, we must all cast a wary eye towards the value of “connectedness.” How can you spend an hour talking about substitutes and other banal topics? Simply unconscionable. Truly, its about trying to get better at what has already been done.

      As far as the PD thing goes, I’m at a loss. I too have seen the: “Twitter is the best PD ever” refrain. PD is something that educators don’t think deeply enough about, its ingrained in the language of education and just is. But it should be about learning, so why not call it what it should be-learning. And if you think Twitter is the best “PD” you’ve ever had, you haven’t worked very hard at your own professional learning.

  2. Brian Van Dyck says:

    I constructed a verbose response. I thought. I erased :-). Yeah I’ve made quite a career for myself voicing my opinions and expressing my deeply held convictions. I love social media as my personal filter. At the end of the day, with all the posts and responses that should have been erased, I discover those quality people that remain my friends even when they vehemently disagree with me. Social media = my “quality human being” filter.

  3. I like twitter for the connections and relationships that form from it. The PD part comes from that. I wouldn’t call twitter a place for PD. It’s a place to start a conversation.

  4. Mary Lou Buell says:

    Everything is relative. Twitter isn’t literally the best PD, but it is the next best thing for folks like me who work in a circa 2004 education climate and culture. In my district for PD we just discovered Carol Dweck. We had a half day “training” on growth mindset and now most of the staff in my building have interpreted Dweck’s research to mean that teachers should be giving students grades for effort, and the admins leading the PD do nothing to correct this assumption.

    Certainly it would be best, if school based PD leaders truly understood the methods and strategies they are “teaching” to staff, but Twitter is the next best PD because no matter where you are at in your teaching abilities, or how far behind your school is, there is someone right there with you. And there are many kind souls who are willing to help you improve, by sharing a link, or a lesson, or even just a “hang in there” note of encouragement. Twitter was there for me 4 years ago when I was getting called on the carpet for letting students use mobile devices in class; and there for me 4 days ago when I was told that the link to my students reading comprehension scores was in fact broken, and that IT was swamped so it would be weeks before they could fix it. Twitter was also there for me last year, when my department ridiculed me for suggesting that the word “rigor” (another notion we are just now getting around to learning about), be replaced with the more authentic and positive “vigor.”

    Nevertheless, most people do not stick around as long as I have—many of the folks who were “my people” 7 years ago when I began tweeting, have moved on to likely better forms of PD. I recognize that it is probably quite lame of me to still be here—stagnating in my professional growth while I see others going off to pursue advanced degrees, receive technology and pedagogy training, or in some cases move out of the classroom. I became a teacher because I was good at it, and it allowed me the opportunity to pursue hobbies with my own children during vacation periods. In good conscience, I owe it to my students to give them the best education I possibly can, and twitter helps me do that. I would love it if that were not the case, but for the immediate future the next best thing needs to suffice.

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