Twitter can be a great professional learning tool for teachers, but some teachers might be hesitant to get started. The root of this hesitancy can come from a variety of sources. Social media may not have a positive image in some teachers’ minds. The technology part can be intimidating, as well as the lack of knowledge about the tools themselves.
In hopes of encouraging teachers to get started—and possibly ease some of those fears—I have created a set of steps to get started with Twitter that are specific to the field of education.
Ready, Set, Tweet
Getting started with Twitter is pretty simple. I would imagine most teachers know how to create a username and password to sign up for an account. But using Twitter effectively as an educator takes a little bit more know-how and savvy than just logging in. Here are some tips and reflections for teachers to consider as they ramp up their usage:
- Your profile bio is your chance to introduce yourself to everyone on Twitter with just a few short words. These words or phrases should communicate who you are and what you believe. This is a great way to summarize your philosophy of education, a description of your job, and a little bit more about your life that people may want to know. You are limited to 160 characters, so it must be concise and clear. Some educators go with a list of single word descriptors, “Wife. Second grade teacher. Tech nerd.” and the like. Other teachers go with more of a descriptive sentence, such as “I’m a passionate secondary science teacher in a rural school.” It's a good idea to browse through some bios before writing (or rewriting!) your own.
- I would recommend making your profile picture and your header photo more generic instead of specific. Classroom pictures age quickly, but a picture of your school mascot or the school building will not. Family pictures or vacation pictures are also good because they are engaging and eye-catching.
- Twitter caught on because of the character limitations (in my opinion, at least). It’s easy to scan and gather information quickly because there are no long, drawn-out posts. To get started with a tweet, think about something that you want to share about your classroom or your content. Share something that excites you or that you are passionate about.
- Putting pictures in your tweets helps to catch attention and see education in action. As much as you can, try to make learning visible by taking photos of what you're doing in the classroom that's really great and sharing with the twitterverse.
- Educational chats (or #EdChat) are an interesting collaborative experience. Click here for a calendar of different Twitter chats and when there are typically hosted—there is something here for any type of educator. This is a great way to network with others and to get your voice out there. As you read tweets from fellow educators and comment back, you'll find yourself thinking more deeply about the topics in the questions posted.
Connecting With Other Educators
- As you begin to connect with people, liking and retweeting is a great way to build your network. It’s easy and sometimes even fruitful to be a silent troll just lurking in the background of Twitter reading everyone's information, but connecting with others is easier as you retweet, like, and comment on other articles, photos, and tweets. I have found the more you comment on other tweets, the more likely people will be to follow you and network with you back.
- By tweeting at someone—putting their name and Twitter handle in an actual post—it notifies them that you have mentioned them in a comment. Some of the more well-known users on Twitter may not be readily available to tweet you back, but this is a great way to network and introduce yourself to other people on Twitter.
- I have always tried to maintain a fairly professional Twitter account. I don't post much about anything outside of the educational world, but I have found that it is important to be relatable. Pictures of my family or snippets from my vacation are good ways for people to connect with you and understand who you are and what you believe in.
Twitter is a wonderful tool for networking professionally; hopefully some of the tricks shared here can help make it much easier and more productive.
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