Summer is supposed to be a time when we can finally catch our breath, catch up on projects, and plan for the next academic year. Right?
This past summer saw all four of my graduate assistants leave town, either due to graduation, or because they landed awesome internships elsewhere. And though I was happy for all of them, the collective work they normally did throughout the school year was unceremoniously dumped back into my lap. I found myself juggling my regular responsibilities with the added day-to-day facilities operations tasks that I hadn’t counted on handling. Something in my schedule had to go. I chose to toss out Twitter.
I didn’t realize how much I need the energy and enthusiasm that is generated through Twitter and other social media sites. When I recently started reading my Twitter account again, and catching up on blog posts from other professionals, I felt my energy level rise, and my brain actually started processing new ideas. The professional development and camaraderie available through social media can be just what a person needs to recharge their batteries. And it is available anytime and anywhere there is an internet connection.
So now I plan to again set aside time on a weekly basis to read blogs and participate in Twitter chats. I will take a few minutes throughout my day to scroll through my Twitter feed and check out my favorite hashtags, such as #recchat, #saassess, and #sachat. I will relish the lift I get just by looking at the Twitter profile photo posted by @lmendersby, the official “Advocate for Awesome.”
For anyone who does not have the funding to travel to professional conferences, or who likes to be presented with different viewpoints and ideas, or who just craves interaction with colleagues outside of their own workplace, social media is the place to be. Just set aside an hour out of your work week where you just close your door and read. Put it on your calendar so your time doesn’t get hijacked. And be sure to contribute tweets or blogs of your own.
Below is a short list containing my favorite bloggers and tweeters within the Student Affairs and education professions, along with some of my favorite social media websites. This list might be a good start for anyone in Student Affairs who would like to begin using social media sites for professional development. Feel free to add your own favorites in the “Comments” section of this blog. I’d love to hear from you!
…and my absolute favorite:
The Principal of Change
Don’t forget to explore hashtags for Higher Education Professionals
Diigo – use this site to develop a library containing your bookmarked websites. Or join a community and see what others are bookmarking.
Feedly – use this site to see and read all of your favorite blogs in one place
WeFollow – use this site to find people to follow on Twitter who have the same interests as you