English Language Teaching in Pre-K–5: Using Twitter for PD

Hi! My name is Judie Haynes. Welcome to my TESOL blog.  I am excited to be a TESOL blogger and to write about teaching English learners (ELs) on the Pre-K–5 levels.  I plan to discuss issues, best practices, and teaching strategies pertaining to elementary-age ELs.  Every few months, an expert in the field of  teaching ELs will be invited to either cowrite a blog with me or to be a guest blogger.

About Me

Now I’d like to tell you a little  about myself.  I taught ESL  for 28 years in an elementary school in New Jersey, USA.  I left the public school  in 2008 in order to provide professional development to classroom and ESL teachers and administrators around the United States and Canada. I  really enjoy working with teachers of ELs in workshops and in their classrooms.  One of my other goals when I left the classroom was  to spend more time writing. I am the author and coauthor  of seven books for teachers of ELs, the most recent being The Essential Guide for Educating Beginning English Learners with Debbie Zacarian.

One of my current passions is providing professional development to teachers of ELs through social media.  In 2012, I cofounded a Twitter Chat group called #ELLCHAT with Linda Hahner, an Internet pioneer and founder of the Literacy Center Education Network.   I am currently comoderator of  #ELLCHAT with Karen Nemeth, a nationally recognized expert and author in the field of early childhood education.

The Changing Role of the ESL Teacher

The changing role of the ESL teacher has been the subject of many articles and blogs over the last few years.  ESL teachers are told to become consultants and advocates for their students.  TESOL supports this shift and makes suggestions for how school administrators can facilitate the transformation of the ESL teachers’ role.  (See TESOL’s Implementing the CCSS for ELs: The Changing Role of the ESL Teacher ). In most school districts, administrators drive these changes.  Many ESL teachers, however, have told me that they do not have the support of their district to make these changes.  They don’t know where to begin. I have found that Twitter is a good place to start.

Twitter for ELT Professional Development

What are the advantages of using Twitter for professional development (PD)?  Many ESL teachers tell me that they do not receive enough PD in their school districts to help them support colleagues who have ELs in their classroom. Pre-K–5 ESL teachers are especially isolated and do not always have ESL  colleagues with whom they can communicate in their buildings.  Twitter allows teachers to have access to thousands of educators around the world and to connect, collaborate, and share with educators with similar interests. It is my opinion that ESL teachers need to find PD that is geared to their needs.  They need to have venue to ask questions, discuss issues, share resources with colleagues, and support the learning of their students. This is where Twitter comes in.

I am a strong advocate of using social networking to provide professional development for teachers of ELs.  There are major benefits to teachers of being on  Twitter, especially if  they do not have a district learning community that supports their professional development in school.

Once  teachers have signed up for Twitter, they need to develop a Personal Learning Network or PLN. ESL teachers can find lots of other educators who have the same interests. Twitter can be a means to transforming your classrooms and changing how you teach. You can find resources, acquire knowledge, network, and share best practices with your personal learning network.

Here are some resources to help  teachers get started on Twitter.

#ELLCHAT, the Twitter chat  for teachers of English learners, takes place every Monday night at 9 pm ET.  Chat topics are posted on the #ELLCHAT Facebook Page. In addition, there are discussions and resources that are posted every day on #ELLCHAT. I hope to see you on Twitter! Be sure to follow @judiehaynes and @KarenNemethEdM.

Have you ever tried Twitter? I’d like to hear from you. Please share your Twitter  experiences by commenting on this post


About Judie Haynes

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes taught elementary ESL for 28 years and is the author and coauthor of eight books for teachers of ELs , the most recent being “Teaching to Strengths: Supporting Students Living with Trauma, Violence and Chronic Stress“ with Debbie Zacarian and Lourdes Alvarez-Ortiz. She was a columnist for the TESOL publication "Essential Teacher" and is also cofounder and comoderator of the Twitter Chat for teachers of English learners #ELLCHAT.
This entry was posted in TESOL Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to English Language Teaching in Pre-K–5: Using Twitter for PD

  1. Shaeley Santiago says:

    Twitter is great for professionals like ESL teachers who may be somewhat isolated as “singletons” in their school because Twitter makes it possible to connect with others of similar interests without regard for proximity. Twitter is also great for asking a question or finding resources recommended by others. A colleague from a nearby school commented just the other day that the only useful professional development she’s received this school year has been from participating in #ELLChat. Thank goodness it’s available and open for anyone.

  2. Great job, Judie! Very useful information, too!

  3. Nate Brelsford says:

    This hit home, Judie!
    I will begin a MA in TESOL this August, but I’m not waiting until then to begin building my PLN!  
    Twitter was my first inclination, and now I feel validated. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.