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Professional Development in a World of Social Media


Thomas McAuliff, Taylors Elementary School

I remember sitting in a college education classroom during my undergrad studies listening to a professor talk about the power of learning from your colleagues. In that same sentence, she remarked on educators who “close the door and teach” without collaborating with other fellow teachers. It was during that time I remember thinking of the power in numbers. Fast forward a few more years as I’m entering into my third year of education, I began to search for variety in professional development. While I knew I did not know everything about education, I knew that “one-size fits all” learning does not work for teachers just as it does not for our students.  It was around this time that I was given the idea to create a Twitter account and use the power of social media for professional development. I never thought of using a social media platform, like Twitter, to gain professional development.  

Through my use of Twitter in professional development, I have been able to learn more through my experiences than “just a class.”

  1. Authentic lesson experiences and learning can occur. Through Twitter, anyone can follow classrooms, educators, and key figures in the world of education. It’s always interesting to see students across the globe learning and growing in different parts of the world. It is equally as intriguing to connect with educators globally to brainstorm ideas of teaching students. Here teachers can also discover and learn new instructional strategies and ideas to be a more effective practitioner.

  2. Professional learning happens at a rapid rate of speed. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been caught in the checkout line at the grocery store, and scrolling through Twitter engaged in learning. Quick access to opportunities for learning happen here. With that being said, it can also become a bit addictive or overwhelming. I have to limit myself to roughly five to ten minutes a day of reading and learning or time will get ahead of itself.

  3. There’s power in members! I have followed countless educators through my time on Twitter because of their knowledge and leadership. Numerous educators sharing the same mindset and common goal create a great amount of learning and discussion for the sake of students. It is here that I have made new friends, and used my PLN (Professional Learning Network) as a platform to brainstorm ways to make my classroom more engaging, and student centered.

If you’re already on Twitter, feel free to follow me. My Twitter handle is: @tmcauliffTES. The days of teaching in quarantine are over! I have often wondered if the developers of Twitter ever thought about educators using their social media platform for learning. Also, be sure to follow along #loveSCschools for all of the great things happening in South Carolina!  

Thomas McAuliff ( is a fourth grade teacher in Taylors, SC at Taylors Elementary School. He serves as an Adjunct Instructional Technology Trainer for his district in addition to being a Google Certified Educator. He was recently named a Greenville County Schools Top 10 Teacher of the Year Finalist. He is a member of the SC ASCD Class of 2017 Emerging Leaders. Connect with Thomas on Twitter @tmcauliffTES



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