When I blog, when I tweet, when I Facebook I am always extremely careful. I never want to say anything that could be twisted, misinterpreted, or taken the wrong way. That’s how I am in real life. Always careful not to offend or hurt. However, today as I reflect on 2013 I may dig a little deeper and expose a little more of @daisyray215. Just a little. First of all, this year has been amazing. Seriously. And, yes, it all started with Twitter. My career and life have been flipped upside down. I started grad school, I’ve been presenting, we started a Twitter Chat, there are a lot of conferences and EdCamps I want to attend. We are even doing our own EdCamp! It’s been hectic, time-consuming, stressful at times, but in the end I would not change a darn thing. My superintendent suggested that I start a Twitter account last March. He is a true lead learner, and you can follow him on Twitter @bradmceachern. Reluctantly, I started one. It took me a while to figure it all out, see the true power, and make connections. But when it happened, it happened. People question me a lot. A LOT! Doesn’t Twitter take up too much time? Isn’t it a “time-sucker”? Are you on Twitter again? I guess it is the way you look at it. I was bored. I had taught the same thing for seven years. I know my students were bored most of the time. Teaching to the test and worksheets, worksheets, worksheets were the norm. I was so worried about my score on the state exam that it consumed me. Did you catch that? MY SCORE. Because the score reflected on whether or not I was a good teacher, right? When I look back, I see that I was extremely selfish. Yes, I wanted them to score well for them, but also for me. I was in a major rut. Thank God for Twitter. Thank God for a superintendent that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Thank God for Angie, Karen, Jana, Cherie, and Steven that are just a text away. Thank God for Erin Klein, Todd, Craig, Summer, Brett & Brandi, Brad & Drew, Rafranz, Carrie, and everyone else in my PLN. I am so thankful that they openly share and connect with educators from all over. They don’t connect for selfish reasons or to get ahead….they connect because not only do they love their students, they love my students. And your students. And kids from all over the world. By them connecting, they changed my classroom. They changed me. They are changing the world and changing our future. I am very grateful. I wish teachers from all over would share the awesome things they are doing in their classroom, so I can be an “Idea Bandit” and take it to my class even more. So, does Twitter take time? Yes. It does. I used to watch hours and hours of HGTV. Not so much now. That’s all I cut out. I still spend the same amount of time with my friends and family. My kids do not suffer because I am tweeting. Usually we are all on a device at the same time. When I come across a really cool idea my kids are usually who I run it by. We have had a lot of fun using Augmented Reality together. Seriously. Learning together. Maverick knows that Twitter is for work. Maggie likes to do what we call “Creation Station” together. She creates while I create. My husband has always supported any crazy idea I have, even when I painted the hall lime green, so the fact that I am Tweeting doesn’t bother him. What about Twitter takes time? The articles. Reading someone else’s article or blog that they have tweeted out. They are never long. Connected educators are accustomed to the 140 character limit; therefore, everything is basically short, sweet, and to the point. The planning takes time, too. When you run across someone else’s great idea and decide to implement it into your class, yes, you have to plan. But that’s what teachers do. They lesson plan. Twitter chats – amazing. Do they take time? Depends. Are you sticking around for the whole chat or just jumping in and out? Do I recommend them? Yes, I do. It is like you are sitting around drinking coffee with fellow educators and bouncing ideas off of them. Except that you don’t have to leave your house! Twitter is all about growth. And I needed to grow. I needed to stand on my own two feet. I needed to get out of my comfort zone and know that I could bring new things into my class. If they didn’t work out, if I messed up, if I totally bombed it….it’s fine. I just won’t do that lesson again. Sometimes teachers are so scared of failure. They don’t want to fail in front of their students or in front of other educators. This year I’ve learned that it is ok. Our class motto has been everyone makes mistakes…even Mrs. Marino. I say that at least once a day. I am no longer “teaching to a test”. I am teaching to create life-long learners. I want them to love learning as much as I do. If I teach them to pass a test how will that help them in the future? If I teach them to bubble correctly, how does that impact their future? I need to teach them to think, to question, to create, to inspire, to love. I need to teach them to be leaders, to be kind, to stand on their own two feet. They need to be confident. They need to know that there is not a formula for everything. Sometimes you just have to think. Sometimes you have to fail, and when you do you get right back up. Teaching is hard if you’re doing it right. It’s stressful. It’s demanding. It will break your heart. Why not join a community of people that know exactly how you feel and what you’re going through? This community will lift you up when you fall, make you laugh when you want to cry, and give you a good push out of your comfort zone. Change is scary. Twitter WAS my light bulb. Twitter IS my fire. Twitter has made me a better teacher. It is eye-opening and inspirational. It is full of positive educators from all over the world with the same goal in mind. Fostering a love for learning in our students, in your students, in our future. I love Twitter. I am addicted.