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A List That Actually Matters

I sort of wanted to give this post a cutesy title, like "My Edu-Valentines," but I'm incredibly serious about this. Yesterday, two of my favorite people on the planet, people I like and admire, were included in an exceedingly disappointing list of inspirational educators. (excuse me, "educationists.") They were both livid.

As they should have been.

The list was lily white and lacking women. Most of the people were not actually teachers - which you know, makes them a lot less inspirational to those of us who spend our days surrounded with the bright future of the world. AND THEN, after being called out for the poor quality of the list, the author - who is not a teacher, but a "blogger and digital marketing biz" person and moderator of #GuruChats - about branding (of which I have many thoughts) - asked for suggestions to improve it.

Okay, the first one is do your homework, don't run an algorithm.

But then I took a couple of moments to scribble some names on a Post-It. Before my next class came in. And in two minutes, I came up with sixteen teachers who are incredibly inspirational to me. I rounded to twenty, because apparently, that's what you do with a listicle, but given some time, I'm sure I could come up with a hundred. And this list is only teachers on Twitter, doesn't include my husband, and doesn't include the two gentlemen cited in the first list.

So, in no particular order, here are my

Top 20 Inspirational Teachers To Follow on Twitter In 2018

1. Kory Graham

Kory is one of the most genuine and warm humans that I've never had the pleasure of meeting in real life. She is curious about educational practices - she seeks to reconcile what she does, has done, and will do with what others are doing to: the very definition of a learner. She's also a champion for everyone's everything, and it's genuine. When Kory loves something, it is unabashed. We could all do well to embrace our inner @korytellers.

2. Sarah Thomas

When I first started using Twitter as a resource to connect to other teachers, I was writing a grant to help my school go 1:1 with Chromebooks and my angle was gamification. I started running into Sarah at online conferences, and she was just really cool. Then, when I tried Voxer, she invited me to be in a fitness group of teachers. @sarahdateechur organizes teachers, resources, and elevates voices. If she doesn't know, she knows someone who does, her love for making teachers better heard is inspiring.

3. Shana V. White

The best thing about Shana is that she challenges me. I know that I don't understand her experiences because I'm not a person of color, but when I seek to understand, or to look at my assumptions, her feed is where I head first. She's supportive, but no-nonsense: just the way I need someone who teaches me to be. I have so much respect for @ShanaVWhite and we all need her wisdom and perspective.

4. Jay Nickerson

I want to teach like Jay. I want to be in his class. His #nowherenearmynotebook tag has the best, most interesting things curated in it. The music! The poetry! The philosphy! I think, of all the people that I know online, that I probably fangirl most over @doodlinmunkyboy, and when I get over to that side of Canada next, I'm going to embarrass myself thoroughly.

5. Sam Patterson

I wish there was a portal to the Twitter Fantasy School where we all work, and I'd go down the hall and play in Sam's makerspace with his kids. And his laser cutter. And the sewing machines. He doesn't just have the greatest toys, he has a killer sense of humor, the joy of making creeps out of every single post. There is so much joy and zeal to @SamPatue . Also, there are puppets.

6. José Luis Vilson

First off, @TheJLV is not optional to follow. He is not optional to put on a list of any teachers doing anything awesome anywhere. Thought we don't interact that much, it's obvious: this is great teaching. This is  passionate professionalism. I hope I'm even close to as inspirational to someone as Mr. Vilson is to teachers and the kids lucky enough to be his students. This is what doing the good work looks like.

7. Janet Avery

Janet is a person that I actually know, and she's lovingly referred to as "Idaho's Fairy Tweetmother." She believes in the power of connection, a power that - when given an online platform - can be extra important in a very rural, sometimes inaccessible state like ours. She's also kind and funny. Driven and thoughtful. And @averyteach can put up with my poor behavior in PD sessions better than anyone else I've ever met.

8. Anne Delgado

Anne is possibly the most perceptive person on this list. So many experiences inform her work with her students, and her insights from working in many areas of education make her points and positions more powerful. She is wry and clever and wicked, wicked smart. I'm so glad to know that @annemdelgado not only thinks about teaching like I do, but thinks about teaching like I do. (PS - sorry I picked a tweet to highlight where you used the "i" word.)

9. Thomas Mision

Thomas is going to be such an incredible teacher. He already is. In all honesty, I tear up a little bit thinking of him in front of his own classroom. He makes such an impact on me because he's always learning. He's learning from the successes. He's learning from the failures and mediocres too. @shadow_uzumaki 's pop culture pulse is spot on (and will be a terrific asset in his own classroom), his GIF game is strong, and his passion for teaching makes me look at my own practice with beginners eyes again.

10. Jess Lifshitz

The biggest compliment I can give to Jess is that I wish my son could be in her class. I just know that they would get along smashingly, and her passion for reading, writing, and thinking would set him on fire. There are scads of great teachers, but there are precious few I would love to teach my child, and everything I see confirms for me that @Jess5th is at the top of the heap. (Interestingly enough, several of the teachers I would love for LP to have are 5th grade teachers. Hmmm.) Additionally, read her blog.

11. John Wick

There's brain research and then there's brain research, know what I mean, teachers? @johnwick seems to apply his experience at every level of education - classroom, admin, and college - to his current research and development in neuroeducation software. To me, this is nerdy amazingness and I want to science all over it. But for all the the technology and foresight, there is deep, philosophical thought about pedagogy and making the world a better place. 

12. Simon Miller

Simon is another local person that I actually know. Like, we're #chromies IRL and he's a really rad guy. But here's the deal: @leadedtech is so animated and vehement in his beliefs about technology and relationships with students. There is FIRE when he talks about social media policies or why nothing, nothing matters like it could (and should) without a solid relationship behind it. I would follow his rallying cry into any battle about technology in schools. And his sports tweets are gold.

13. Laura Grundler

@GrundlerArt promotes the art of children and her peers and fills my feed with color and beauty. As #TeamGrundler, she and her husband lead many chats for art educators on teaching and teaching art. Since I'm a specialist myself, I love seeing her celebrate techniques and mediums and the academia of K-12 art education. What she shares is a visual reminder that there are so many of us out there who care deeply about our subject matter - it's not just "happy fun time."

14. Ross LeBrun

I would like to work for and with @MrLeBrun . As far as school leaders go, I can't imagine a stronger person with a more clear vision. It would be exciting to be a part of his team, a team where expectations are high, and everyone seems to rise to them. It's also clear how much he cares for the people around him. I am inspired by Ross' character - he is the best of us.

15. Amy Burvall

When I need a creative boost, I look to @amyburvall. Her art and ideas about creativity are just the jolt I need, and though I'm typically not an edubook recommender (except Educational Arson), Intention is one I think belongs on every shelf. Of all the teachers who present at conferences, the one whose I'm most looking forward to attending someday is Amy. (She has the coolest of cool-girl vibes too. Gah! I want to be her!)

16. Nate Bowling

Nate Bowling teaches social studies in Tacoma, WA. That's near enough to feel close, but far away in terms of society and class, so it's like I'm in his AP Gov class on Twitter. His perspective makes me think, and even though we're nearly always aligned in thoughts, the ways that we arrive at this consensus make me consider carefully who I am and what I can do with my privilege, and also what a privilege I have to learn from teachers like @nate_bowling.

17. Kevin Honeycutt

Kevin Honeycutt gives an awesome conference session - so much of which is, "Well, of course!" Not in a demeaning way, but in a "heck yes, let's make Spoonflower patterns and sell them on furniture and play with recording tracks and and and..." It's the empowerment of play. @kevinhoneycutt makes a living teaching teachers. You might say that would disqualify him from a list of inspiring educators, but I disagree. Entrepreneurship shouldn't be forbidden - hopefully it's not the endgame - but don't we get paid for doing something we love? 

18. Jaison Oliver

Jaison is the newest educator to me on this list and I met him when I co-hosted a chat about poetry. He was completely fascinating. He's also involved in his community and is an activist - on- and off- line. I'm proud to say that teaching is a political act (I'd never shy away from that statement), so seeing @oJaison's work emboldens me to speak out more when and where I can. Plus, the excitement for Black Panther is so real, you can't help but be excited for him to see it.

19. Ana Sanchez

Ana does cool stuff in her room. We all do cool stuff in our rooms, you know, but the relationships that @EducatorSanchez builds with things like Math Bowl and the sweet STEAM projects she does create this environment for really robust learning. With fun and magic and learning that doesn't take itself too seriously. Serious learning full of joy? I'll take all of it I can get.

20. Rusul Alrubail

Rusul has an inspiring story - novel-worthy, perhaps. But her focus on education as empowerment is, well, empowering. Her story is so different from my own and saying this sounds...unenlightened, maybe...but I am continually shocked at how similar we really are. I don't get to experience many different cultures in my homogeneous hometown, so @RusulAlrubail is my constant reminder that no matter how different our lives may be, the human experience is universal.

To these people, and all the others that aren't listed but inspire me every day, thank you. From the bottom of my heart and the depths of my classroom, thank you. Everything you do for your students, you do for me too, and I'm incredibly grateful.


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