In the following pages I exemplify the following characteristics of inspiration and illustrate them with data from my research: work mastery, openness to experience, energization and clarity, positive emotionality and transcendence. Together, these characteristics form a basis for teachers’ development based on inspiration as knowing. I conclude this part with two relevant findings grounded in the data namely, the non-linear nature of Twitter and the use of mobile technology in the CPD of teachers. (See videolog 20th Nov. '15)
The teachers that
participated in my case study already had reached a level of work mastery. At
this point it is unclear if the teachers involved had developed a
growth mindset before they entered their Twitter adventure, or that Twitter
itself established this openness to professional renewal. It is likely to
assume that the teachers involved already had a strong belief in professional
development. This clearly would need more investigation. On the other hand, Thrash
and Elliot (2003) found that inspiration positively correlates with the work
mastery component. Their conceptualization of inspiration revealed work mastery
as an emerging theme, both as an antecedent and as a consequence. Inspiration
“favors the prepared mind … and inspiration has an enduring impact on
motivation and focus.” (Thrash and Elliot, 2003, p. 886)
Thus, Twitter offers evidence that - at least some - teachers seek to be curious professionals that are able to reflect upon practice, exchange knowledge and experience, alone or in the presence of supportive colleagues. (Davis, 2012; Forte et al., 2012; Kop, 2012; and Carpenter & Krutka, 2015)
The participating teachers acknowledged the power of Twitter to enrich their professional practice. The following quotes ilustrate their growth as a professional.
“I’ve learnt more from Twitter than all of my professional development sessions together.” (Mariska)
“Twitter even had a positive impact on my classroom management. Pupils know that I’m on Twitter, and when they see me they react “Ah, there’s that Twitter teacher … This closes the gap between me and them.” (Heidi)
“I follow Twitter chat #FCLVL Future Classroom Lab Vlaanderen (Flanders) and I learnt a lot from these chat sessions.” (Leen)
“Twitter is a virtual teacher staff room of the “likeminded”, and I love it.” (Leen)
“Twitter is one big training session.” (Kris)
“I am able to recalibrate existing information ‘out there’ to my own professional practice.” (Karine)
“Through Twitter I can put my professional self in the spotlight. I can disseminate my knowledge as a professional.” (Erik)
“It is a platform for launching professional bubbles.” (Els)
“Form my subject of Financial studies in horticulture, Twitter provides me with numerous up-to-date and realistic information.” (Ingrid)
“Through Twitter I can make the learning process more visible for students: exam tips, sharing artciles etc.” (Hans)
“On Twitter I express my professional self, while Facebook is more personal.” (Patrick)
The teachers received
inspiration from a broad set of domains. Ranging from technological knowledge,
over pedagogic knowledge to ‘peripheral’ knowledge. The latter resulting from
information exchange with networks and domains beyond the school and classroom
practice (in line with Forte et al., 2012; and Carpenter & Krutka, 2015).
The data concerning information/inspiration was organised into Nvivo into subnodes of inspiration/work mastery/information.
An overview of the relevant data organised into nodes: [click thumbnails]
The following findings are grounded in the individual interviews and were discussed in the focus group session.
- Nine participants picked up Pedagogical Content Knowledge. PCK covers the core business of teaching, learning, curriculum, assessment and reporting, such as the conditions that promote learning and the links among curriculum, assessment, and pedagogy” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009)
- Six participants gave evidence of picking up Content Knowledge through Twitter. CK is teachers’ knowledge about the subject matter. (See Koehler & Mishra, 2009, http://www.matt-koehler.com/tpack/tpack-explained/ )
- Six participants picked up Technological Pedagogical Knowledge through Twitter. TPK is about understanding of how teaching and learning can change when particular technologies are used in particular ways.
- Three participants gave evidence of picking up Technological Content Knowledge, the ideal combination for truly meaningful and deeply skilled teaching with technology.
Especially the teaching practice of Leen showed high level of TPACK. On her timeline you see a lot of tweets on the use of technology in the classroom. Noteworthy is the use of photos on her timeline. In contrast to twitter teachers that mainly consume information, she tweets a lot on the actual classroom practice.
“I actively share classroom work and students’ work by tweeting images for example. This is a nice of way of bringing my classroom activities to the outside. And students value this. Sometimes they follow and retweets but often not. I always ask them before tweeting” (Leen)
This analysis of Twitter timelines suggests various and different ways teachers actually use Twitter. During the focus group session we started discussing on a taxonomy of Twitter. By analysing the timelines of particpants, a number of Twitter user types became apparent. Ranging from the infollower (the teacher that mainly follows and picks up peripheral knowledge), over a more collaborative use of Twitter, to visualising a strong technology enabled teaching practice.
It would need more research and a larger group of Twitter teachers to create a taxonomy of Twitter users. The way teachers use Twitter is linked to the teachers’ subjective theory (Kelchtermans, 1993). It would valuable to take into account this notion of teacher’s subjective theory in possible further research.