Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
Using social media is usually a way of avoiding doing your work, but what if we told you that spending time on a certain social network would actually help you do your job better?
Educators in the 21st century have a lot to juggle, but when it comes to Twitter, it will make your teaching life easier rather than add to your plate. Read on to discover the ins and outs of Twitter for teachers!
10 Reasons for Teachers to Use Twitter
1. Find ideas and lesson plans. Are you studying the Mayans with your fourth graders? Reading Animal Farm with your high schoolers? Building your first robots with your STEM club? Head over to Twitter, and you’ll be amazed at the wealth of resources you can find. If you’re ever struggling to find ideas for your next class or want to wow with a project, just type in a couple of hashtags and scroll through the wisdom of your fellow teachers.
2. Stay up-to-date on current events in the teaching world. News happens fast, and when you’re wrapped up in a full-time teaching job while balancing your social/family life, it can be hard to keep up. While you’re having your morning coffee, read up on the latest legislation affecting education in your state and scroll through all the headlines that are making the news in the world of education. Where news is concerned, Twitter is one of the fastest ways to figure out what everyone’s talking about in your industry.
3. Stay ahead of the edtech game. By this point in your teaching career, you probably already know that using technology in the classroom is a game changer. If you always feel like the last one to know about the latest apps and tools, you just need to get on Twitter. Learn how to mix and match apps like a pro by searching the hashtag #appsmash, be the first to know when new features are released and impress your school with your knowledge!
4. Follow conferences and events. If you’ve got a teaching conference coming up, make sure you know the hashtag! Stay active on Twitter during your conference to see which events people are most excited about, how people are spending their time during the conference, and what attendees’ thoughts are. On the flip side, if you’re not able to physically attend the conference, you can go virtually through Twitter.
5. Share and test your ideas. Do you have an ambitious idea but you’re not sure if it’s classroom-ready? Ask the teachers in the Twitterverse! Get advice and suggestions for how to improve your ideas, so when you roll it out to your students, your brilliant idea will be perfectly polished.
6. Grow your personal learning network. Once you start reaching out to other teachers on Twitter, you can start building your online professional learning network (PLN). Think of a PLN as your online support group and think tank. As you start making connections on Twitter with teachers who share your subject area or grade level, you’ll naturally start to form relationships. These invaluable connections will make you wonder how you ever lived without Twitter before.
7. Create a Twitter community for your class. Depending on the grades you teach, Twitter can also be a place where you can interact with your students. It’s a great place for students to research current events and expert opinions, which they can then retweet and share with the class. Create a class hashtag so everyone can follow along, and watch your class engagement go through the roof!
8. Keep parents and admins in the loop. Twitter can also be a fantastic tool for inclusion. Show parents all the cool things their kids are doing in class, and give your admin a peek into your classroom. By giving everyone a way to be involved, you’ll be keeping parents and admins happy and impressed!
9. Be as active or as passive as you want. The great thing about Twitter is that there are no obligations, so if you’re having an off week, there’s no pressure to post content or keep up with everyone you’re following. On the other hand, when inspiration strikes, you can tweet all of your genius thoughts out to the world!
10. Use it as a source of inspiration and motivation. Time to get real – teaching is tough, which is hard for other people to understand, even if they’re friends and family. After you’ve had a rough day on the job, Twitter is a great place to find support, have a laugh, or get a dose of much-needed inspiration from others who know exactly what you’re going through.
5 Twitter No-No’s for Teachers
While Twitter for teachers is an amazing tool, you want to make sure to be on your best behavior and avoid these rookie mistakes.
1. Don’t forget you’re in a public space. Although you can tweet from the comfort of your own bed, never forget that your tweets are public. Making a joke that could be taken the wrong way or retweeting suggestive content could get you into a lot of hot water.
2. Don’t use your professional account like a personal one. If you’re using Twitter as a teaching tool and your colleagues, students, parents and admins are following you, don’t forget to keep it professional. After all, your PLN doesn’t need to know how many margaritas you had last Taco Tuesday. You can always keep a separate personal account so you can tweet whatever comes across your mind – just make sure you don’t mix them up!
3. Don’t be a ghost. If you’re new to Twitter, you might be a little intimated to start making your private thoughts public and sending your tweets out into the world. Feel free to follow, watch and learn, but don’t be afraid to dive in yourself! You can always start by retweeting content to get your feet wet.
4. Don’t take without giving. It’s so easy to find material to use for your classes on Twitter, but don’t forget to share your own material and ideas! That’s what keeps Twitter alive and such a valuable resource for teachers – the sharing of ideas and resources to help teachers everywhere.
5. Don’t forget to say thank you. Is there a teacher out there who’s doing amazing things you really admire? How about a blog that’s given you material for your next unit? Don’t forget to say thank you! Send out a tweet telling everyone about the amazing resources you found, and hopefully you’ll get more followers for yourself and the person you’re thanking!
5 Steps to Get Started With Twitter
Now that you’re all jazzed up about Twitter for teachers, here’s how to get started.
1. Sign up for an account. Head over to Twitter, create a username (your Twitter handle) and password, and away you go!
2. Start following your coworkers and other teacher influencers. Start looking around Twitter and follow the teachers and networks you’re interested in. You can get other ideas of who to follow by seeing who they’re following.
3. Take part in a Twitter chat. Twitter chats are online discussions usually lasting about an hour on a specific topic. Participants get involved by using a specific hashtag and following a question and answer format. Check out the list of education chats on Twitter to get started!
4. Start posting your own success stories. Did you have an amazing class using a new app? Tweet it out! Are your students crushing it with their latest project? Let the world know! When you have a success story to share, don’t hesitate.
5. Create a hashtag for your class. Once you’re comfortable with Twitter and want to create a shared space for your students there, create a hashtag and share it with your students. You’ll be amazed at how it allows you to connect with them on a whole different level.
So, are you ready to slay the Twitterverse? Get to tweeting!