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Supporting New Teachers Through Tech: Introducing #Preservicelit

By Stephanie Affinito
 | Feb 14, 2018

shutterstock_213310894_x300Where do you find your teaching inspiration? In our tech-savvy world, chances are, you turn to other educators on social media. Facebook groups and Google+ communities provide avenues for digital conversations about teaching and learning. Twitter connects educators through micro-writing. Pinterest houses millions of lesson plans, activities, decoration ideas, and more. Even Instagram can link us to authors and books to bring into our classrooms. So, which one has inspired you?

Twitter has been a particularly important tool for building my personal learning network (PLN). The virtual support, camaraderie, and inspiration fuels my heart and mind. I tweet for my next book to read, for advice on an upcoming presentation, to request resources, and to participate in Twitter chats for real-time professional development and learning.

Twitter chats have connected me to other teacher educators, have hatched ideas for collaborative research projects, and—put simply—have supported my own professional learning to better my teaching. I have often said that I wished I knew about the power of Twitter much earlier in my career. Therefore, I have woven Twitter and social media into my teacher education classes to introduce my students to the power of social media to build our fellow tribe of educators.

Imagine if we created a support system where education students cultivated their own professional learning networks within, across, and beyond institution walls so that, when they graduated, they were armed with a tribe of supportive teachers to support them on their new journey? Enter #preservicelit—a new Twitter chat where undergraduate and graduate education students and preservice teachers connect to discuss current ideas in the field, share ideas and resources, grapple with teaching challenges, ask questions, and meet new mentors for their own professional learning.

Our inaugural chat was a complete success as education students, preservice teachers, new teachers, literacy teacher educators, practicing educators, literacy coaches, and even prominent authors in our field came together to support new educators as they explored the world of social media and began building their professional support systems.

While #preservicelit was especially created for education students and preservice teachers, all educators play an important role in its success. Preservice teachers learn about the power of growing their PLNs and practice using social media professionally, ethically, and responsibly to further their learning. Literacy teacher educators coach preservice teachers through virtual interactions, collaborate with other faculty across institutions, combine expertise, and strengthen education programs together. Educators, mentors, and guest hosts support the newest members of our profession and even connect preservice teachers to the very authors, researchers, and professionals they are learning from in their teacher education programs.

All educators are invited to the #preservicelit chat. Please visit our website for additional information, including a calendar of monthly topics and a place to sign up for text reminders. Join us in supporting our future educators on the first Saturday of every month at 9:00 a.m. ET for a lively 30-minute chat on all things literacy!

Stephanie AffinitoStephanie Affinito is a literacy teacher educator in the Department of Literacy Teaching and Learning at the University at Albany in New York. Stephanie regularly teaches graduate courses on elementary classroom literacy instruction, literacy intervention, and children’s literature. She has researched literacy coaching as part of her doctoral studies and focuses much of her current work on how technology and digital tools can impact teacher learning and collaboration. You can find her on Twitter at @AffinitoLit.

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