That all changed for me at the ACTFL 2016 conference in Boston. One of the first presentations I attended was presented by Rebecca Huls and Kara McNeese. They were presenting about their #spanstuchat Twitter chats they do with students. I was blown away by their success, so right there during their presentation, I created a new twitter account for my teacher persona and @profedenham was born. I immediately followed the two of them as well as all the presenters of the presentations I attended. And because I had followed these amazing teachers, pretty soon I was following even more as they retweeted and responded to other incredible teachers. Pretty soon I had developed a strong FL teaching community on Twitter, but I didn't know what I had.
I started to use the tweeted suggestions in my classroom and I saw improvement! Then I started reading their blog posts and shopping at their TeacherspayTeachers sites. Having a twitter dedicated to my profession started to impact my teaching in the best way. I honestly felt like I was a better teacher than I'd ever been in the past. Whenever I scrolled through my feed, I felt like I was in the company of professionals so dedicated to their craft that you couldn't help but get excited and be uplifted. But even then, I still didn't know what I had with this new Twitter community.
One day I noticed that some of my "real" friends had followed me on @profedenham, and without thinking, I followed them back. Within minutes there were political tweets and other nonsense muddying up my feed. It immediately felt wrong, and then it hit me, @profedenham had to be different for me. I had to protect it because it is my professional community. Living in West Virginia gives me precious few opportunities to interact with other FL teachers. And not just interact, but share ideas, opinions and suggestions; I mean really get into the guts of FL teaching. So I unfollowed my "real" friends from @profedenham because it wasn't a place for them.
Build a professional teaching community on Twitter, if you haven't already. If you need help, you can start by following me. Then guard it against becoming just another social media account. It's the best PD you'll ever have!