My professional life changed the day I discovered the power of a well-considered Twitter feed. No longer stuck in the bubble of my school or district, I was able to find like-minded people to connect with, as well as follow and learn from educators with differing life experiences and perspectives.
As I was browsing my news feed a couple of years ago, it hit me that every avatar I scrolled past had a white face. While it felt validating to see many of my own ideas about education shared across the Twitterverse, it had become a self-affirming echo chamber. [pullquote]That day, I made the choice to start intentionally seeking out and following educators of color. I meant to expand and diversify my network; what I found was that I still have a whole lot of learning left to do.[/pullquote]
Once I started following, listening to and learning from educators of color on Twitter, I saw how rarely I had actually considered these perspectives in my classroom. Yes, I taught about Black Lives Matter in my sociology classes. Yes, I saw my diverse students as having rich and valuable life experiences that could contribute to the welcoming environment I worked to foster in my classroom. But [pullquote position="right"]I still had no idea how much my own Whiteness filtered my worldview.[/pullquote] Paying attention has allowed me to truly progress on my journey to becoming the teacher my students need me to be.
Here are the first 10 people to follow on Twitter if you want to break out of your own bubble and truly understand what equity means for your students. This list is certainly not exhaustive and leaves out some really great educators, but it is a place to start.
I chose these 10 edu-tweeters because they are especially active and engaged in creating a culture of dialogue that pushes my thinking. They are also pretty responsive to comments. Once you start following them, I encourage you to notice who they are tagging most often and explore the “Who to Follow” suggestions on their pages to continue growing your network.
Here are four incredible hashtags to follow. Read, learn and join in some chats!
For even more suggestions, connect with me on Twitter @WakeHistory and I’ll send you a list of at least a dozen more. And please share some of your favorites with me!
Michelle Cottrell-Williams (she/her) is the 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year and a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY). She considers herself a disruptor and hopes to empower others to rethink the status quo. Michelle teaches high school social studies in Arlington, Virginia. As an educator, she considers herself lucky to get to spend every day with incredible teens who are finding their voices and preparing to change the world. Michelle has taught many different subjects and levels of students but is most passionate about teaching social justice and supporting English learners. Here, she finds the greatest opportunities to support students who sometimes struggle to feel like they belong. She was inspired by the work of Brené Brown to focus on forming relationships with students built on vulnerability, trust and empathy. If Michelle had to choose which animal best represents her personality, it would have to be a unicorn: part glitter, part rebel.
Your donation will support the work we do at brightbeam to shine a light on the voices who challenge decision makers to provide the learning opportunities all children need to thrive.