A Teacher’s Love Letter to Twitter

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February 18, 2020

This month, I want to introduce you to some people I have come to love and admire in the “Twittersphere.” I’ve included lots of links you can see even if you aren’t on Twitter (or are skeptical of it). To be clear, these people are not my actual friends (well, except for one). They are people I follow and learn from.

I don’t interact on a regular basis because it isn’t their job to teach me what I don’t know. I read, I listen, and I do my own research/work. I would encourage you all to do the same. Twitter is honestly the best place I’ve found for professional learning. Don’t be afraid to check it out! Here’s a primer if you’re ready but want some help.
@mochamomma (Kelly Wickham Hurst) has been one of my most favorite finds on Twitter. Kelly worked for 23 years in public education and is now the founder and executive director of Being Black at School. I don’t think I can properly convey how much I continue to learn from following Kelly. She has helped me to reframe my thinking, acknowledge and reckon with my privilege, and then apply that to how I engage with kids, colleagues and the world in general. I recently heard her (so cool to hear someone you follow!) on this episode of “Powerful with Jeff Couillard,” and she is just as dynamic and brilliant as I had believed her to be. This recent thread hit me especially hard because it calls out so much of what I see (and am guilty of) in my own work: We go to a workshop, love it, take notes, get excited, then … nothing happens. That is just a taste of @mochamomma’s work. She has made me better.
I mentioned the genius of @Maire_from_NJ (Maire Cervenak) in my January blog post, but I felt the need to expand. Maire is a former elementary teacher, now education consultant. She also hosts a podcast called “The Faculty Room.” Let me say this: Maire is not for the faint of heart. If you are prone to pearl clutching and bouts of the vapors over some swears (and some brutal honesty), she may not be for you. But if you — like me — want to see educational hypocrisy called out, and you think we should be pushing past simple kindness as a remedy for everything in schools, go meet Maire. You won’t regret it. Want just a taste? Check out the last 30 minutes of this episode of “On Education.” Bonus: She’s a killer make-up artist, devoted Baby Yoda fan and lover of all cats.
@MrTomRad (Tom Rademacher) is an English teacher in Minneapolis. He is also the 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year and wrote the book “IT WON’T BE EASY: An Exceedingly Honest (and Slightly Unprofessional) Love Letter to Teaching,” which is on my list of absolute must-reads (that list has gotten quite long recently). Weirdly, though, this isn’t what brought me to him. @Maire_from_NJ (see above) brought him to my feed, but it was his Student Bill of Rights that helped me see how vital his voice would be to my learning. Check it out. Bonus: He also compiled some excellent advice for mentors working with student teachers.
@Jess5th (Jess Lifshitz) is, quite simply, brilliant. If you are an ELA teacher and/or an elementary teacher interested in introducing kids to equity and helping kids be more empathetic, justice-seeking citizens, Jess is for you. I mean, just LOOK at this. Her Twitter account is just a part of the work she shares — for free — on her blog (bonus!), CrawlingOutOfTheClassroom.wordpress.com. Honestly, you’ll thank me.
@pgorski (Paul Gorski) is the founder of the Equity Literacy Institute. His work on avoiding what he calls “Racial Equity Detours” speaks to my soul as an educator. He explains his work on this episode of “Powerful with Jeff Couillard” and writes about it here. He also takes so-called anti-bullying programs to task here, and starts an incredibly helpful thread here for administrators looking to hire people who are committed to anti-racism. Bonus: social justice arithmetic. You’re welcome.
@sheathescholar (shea martin, lowercase intentional) is a literature teacher and researcher. They have taught me what it means to truly be an ally. I still have so much still to learn, but I need this work in my life to be a better teacher for all of my students. Kids need more allies and accomplices to become who they want to be. Bonus: Sometimes they let us see a glimpse into their relationship with their wife, and it is beautiful and sweet and just so … marriage.
@JessycaMathews (Jes the Activist) is, I’m proud to say, one of my friends in real life. Jes is a high school ELA teacher in Flint and the 2019-20 Region 5 Michigan Teacher of the Year, the 2018 Michigan Secondary English Teacher of the Year AND a 2017 NEA Social Justice Activist of the Year finalist. She also has a comic book character designed after her (check out her profile pic) which is just about the coolest thing ever. Jes is the real deal — a true teacher activist, standing up for her community and teaching her seniors to do the same. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Jes’ school, Carman-Ainsworth High School in Flint, where I saw her students preparing for “Activism Day.” Their work was inspiring, thought-provoking and necessary. Scroll through her feed and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this is the work more teachers need to be doing. Bonus: fabulous Halloween costumes with her equally incredible pal @CMattern21 (Carrie Mattern).
People I follow and love (to the point of idol worship), but can’t write too much about because then my blog post would go on forever:
  • @michaelharriot (Michael Harriot), a social justice and history expert who will teach you things you never knew (and most likely needed to know a long time ago). Bonus: He’s hilarious. One example.
  • @cmclymer (Charlotte Clymer), an Army veteran from Texas whose fierce advocacy for transgender rights is changing conversations and hearts everywhere.
  • @ValeriaBrownEDU (Val Brown) leads the #ClearTheAir chat. So. Much. Smart. It may hurt your brain.
  • @ShawnaCoppola (Shawna Coppola) wrote Writing Redefined … also on my list.
  • @MisterMinor (Cornelius Minor) is an inspiration every time I open my feed. Truly.
  • @Lyricalswordz (Scott Bayer) and @JoelRGarza (Joel Garza) run #TheBookChat and provide this incredible document for free.
There are SO MANY MORE, but I think if you follow some of these people, you will find all of the incredible people they are connected to and begin to see how to curate your own Twittersphere. Find me on Twitter, @WonderTeach, to let me know who else I should be following!

About Cara Lougheed: I am a white, straight, cis-gender, non-disabled, married, middle class woman with 21 years of classroom experience in a suburban public school district in occupied Anishinabewaki land. My pronouns are she/her/hers. Anything you find here is based on my perspective, but I acknowledge that perspective has been limited by my experiences, choices, biases (implicit & not), and the unearned privilege I have had in my life. I hope to learn and grow from my colleagues across the state in the coming months as your Michigan Teacher of the Year.
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