You will find an array of information, expertise and it's very current. I can talk to a parent who has a child with dyslexia, ask a legal question of a specialist SEN lawyer and even beg papers from professors who are at the forefront of SEN research. But most of all, I can laugh, shout, share and cry with teachers across the country who work in SEN. SENCOs, Special Schools, PRUs, specialists, Educational Psychologists - you name it, they're on Twitter.
It is an open source of information, inspiration and experience. There are also Direct Messages (DM) if you have concerns about confidentiality; this means you can ask a question privately without others seeing it. Everyone is helpful with their time and knowledge.
Two dedicated chats happen regularly: #SENchat and #senexchange, both of which are good to follow - you may want to lurk to begin with but I guarantee you'll join in sooner or later. Here's some information on a few tweeters I regularly chat to, but all on my list above are worth following - I will have missed out many tweeters.
- 1. @nancygedge - an intelligent and passionate teacher in Primary, working with students who have SEN. Nancy's son has Downs Syndrome and she blogs about him and other issues regularly even recently winning the TES blogger of the year award.
- 2. @ChrisChivers2 - was a headteacher but is now freelance and works in teacher training. He has so much SEN experience; Chris is generous with his advice and writes great blogs on Inclusion - I haven't ever disagreed with Chris.
- 3. @AspieDeLaZouch - a tweeter and blogger, fiercely clever and very funny; he's a SENCO in a mainstream secondary school. Aspie has Asperger's which gives him a great insight into the lives of many of our students with ASD.
- 4. @rachelrossiter - a SENCO in a middle school. She has great knowledge and wisdom, but this is surpassed by her superpower of turning all Twitter conversations into extended puns. It's a marvel to behold.
- 5. @JarlathOBrien - irreverent and self-deprecating... oh, and he's also one of the most dedicated and knowledgeable Special School heads on Twitter. Jarlath also blogs and they are must reads.
- 6. @cherrylkd - started #senexchange and @SENexchange with @Mishwood1. She somehow manages to write about quite contentious issues while remaining calm. While I'm tapping away at my keyboard in a rage, @cherrylkd says what I want to say in fewer words and with less puceness.
- 7. @DamsonEd - Director of Literacy for the Aspire Trust, Megan has vast experience in reading difficulties and is a mine of information for research, She also recently wrote a post on my blog which was a letter to Mr Gibb - it received 8000 views - so she is also finely tuned to the teacher zeitgeist I think.
- 8. @digitaldaisies - Works in a PRU and is very good on tech. She's my go to person if I have a IT type question and/or differentiation. She understands SEN and its complex relationship with behaviour.
- 9. @davewhitaker246 - not active on Twitter too much but he is someone to watch. Principal of Special and Alternative Academies, Dave uses Unconditional Positive Regard which, the more I hear about it, the more I want to hear.
- 10. @SimonKnight100 - well read and researched with a good sense of humour - there you go, I've written his speed-dating bio! Simon is deputy head of a Special School and has many other roles - what Simon doesn't know about SEN probably isn't worth knowing.
- 11. @jordyjax - a great voice for PRUs - opinionated (in a good way), brutally honest and a prolific and passionate blogger / tweeter.
- 12. @ASTSupportAAli - Amjad is an assistant head of a Secondary school with responsibility for Inclusion. He has a toolkit which includes lots of SEN information and is relentlessly energetic in his quest for inclusion.
- 13. @deevybee - Professor Dorothy Bishop is an interesting academic to follow; her blogs are brilliant and her areas of research include Language Learning Impairments, Autism and Dyslexia.
So, if you work in SEN give Twitter a whirl - you won't regret it, I assure you. It's a diverse family; all dedicated to making learning for students with SEN purposeful and accessible. I would class many of the tweeters friends now despite only knowing their virtual souls.
Are you an SEN teacher on Twitter? Share your experiences below!