#FF – Barbara Madden

Here it is, another Friday and Twitter is full of the hashtag:  #FF.  For those of you uninitiated Twitterers out there, that stands for Follow Friday.  In other words, Twitter users will use that hashtag in their tweets followed by the Twitter handles (usernames) of others that they deem worthy of gaining additional followers.

That’s all well and good because I’ve blindly done the same thing myself.  I’ve mentioned others to follow and also gained people to follow from such tweets.  However, as in life, just because I like to follow someone doesn’t necessarily mean that the Twitterverse will as well.

So, now when I issue #FF’s, I would like to take the time to use this blog to explain WHY I recommend you follow these people–stuff that takes longer than 140 characters.

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So, my first #FF blog is devoted to a highly connected geometry teacher in Kansas City by the name of Barbara Madden.  Her twitter handle is @barbarawmadden, and she writes a spicy meatball of a blog called “that MADDENing teacher” where she not only covers education, but touches on social issues, tells a personal tale and throws out an occasional recipe or two.

I don’t know her entire biography, but I do know Barbara was born in Italy, shortly thereafter came to the United States and was raised in the South before setting up shop in Kansas City.  She started teaching in her 20’s but took a break to stay home to raise her four children before returning to the classroom about a decade ago.  Since then, she has jumped head first into the technology age becoming a networking force on Twitter and other social media.  She is working on her Ed.D. dissertation from Saint Louis University.  Her blog even touts the fact that “old teachers can learn new things!”  Plus, she is obsessed with the TV show, Duck Dynasty.  How can you argue with any of that?

My first Barbara Madden encounter was on Twitter where I saw her tweet about math (first red flag), then, when I clicked on her Twitter bio and found out she was in my school district (next red flag), I instantly started following her.  Right now, Twitter is still kind of slow on the uptake in our district, so I will follow anybody who is a fellow employee–birds of a feather, stick together, right?

Just by reading her tweets I could tell that Barbara was passionate (and opinionated) about our chosen profession, and I liked her Twitter personality.  It wasn’t until I actually met her in person where my suspicions were nailed down completely.

We were at the Missouri Association of Secondary School Administrators (MASSP) Aspiring Leaders Conference where we recognized each other (I’m sure from our flattering Twitter bio avatars) and exchanged pleasantries.  I said, “Oh Barbara, it’s great to finally meet you!”  I don’t recall EXACTLY, but Barbara’s response was something like, “Hi Ken, you’re going to be my date for the dinner after the conference.” It wasn’t a request, from what I remember, it was a statement of fact.

And that’s how Barbara rolls.  She calls things out like she sees them and comes on strong.  For instance, when she recently met our district’s new instructional coordinator, who also has a significant presence on Twitter, she said to him that his avatar looks better than he does in person!  Ouch!

The best part, though, is that once you get to know her, she has a heart of gold.  I’ve never been in her classroom, but I can only imagine what the engagement and learning level is like in there…it must be off the charts.  Her personality along with her abilities to incorporate real life learning opportunities and making adjustments in the classroom on the fly, combined with her social media presence must make her room a very cool and inviting place.

So, that’s why I follow Barbara Madden, and you should, too.

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