This recent article outlines the many benefits of teachers engaging with other teachers through Twitter or social media. As it rightly outlines, Twitter is an excellent resource for finding ideas, hearing about new research, being informed and potentially challenging your preconceptions. This is an important part of your professional learning.
However, it is only part of it. Twitter on its own can help build your awareness. It can potentially build your knowledge so that you have a larger bank of evidence-informed ideas. It can also help you to identify other practices in schools or upcoming ideas. Yet awareness is only part of professional learning. To really impact on the classroom and pupil outcomes, you need to engage in sustained and iterative practice, where you refine and adapt an evidence-informed idea to best meet your pupil and curriculum needs. That process takes time and will be made up of a number of different activities, including input, experimenting in the classroom, evaluating and reflecting, and then refining and improving. It is something that is often facilitated through collaborative enquiry, lesson study and similar models, and cannot easily, if at all, be carried out entirely on your own. You need whole school structures, culture and resources to support you with the time, resource and expertise to develop your practice and to enable effective CPD in a school.
Twitter is absolutely a good resource for parts of CPD. It can help build your general knowledge base and professional awareness. In addition, it can often help you feel engaged and motivated and is something that is open and available to all practitioners. But that is only part of CPD. On its own, Twitter will not help develop practice to impact on pupils, and there is a risk with Twitter that you want to try lots of new ideas, but not take the time to adapt and embed any of them over time. Of course not everything on Twitter is evidence-informed, either, so you need to be a discerning consumer. Twitter works best when you are able to use it as part of high-quality CPD provided and supported by your school, where you can take forward ideas that are well-matched to your curriculum and pupil needs, and then adapt and embed them into your practice.
Bridget Clay is the director of school programmes at the Teacher Development Trust. Follow her @bridget89ec and the charity @TeacherDevTrust, or email email@example.com to find out more about TDT’s work supporting schools to improve professional learning.