Twitter for Teachers Mark Anderson

Why use Twitter As a Teacher

"For ideas, support, further reading & inspiration. Always love sharing & seeing other teacher’s work!" - @teachtynanteach

Twitter, whether you like it or not, whether you think it’s worthwhile or not, is a hotbed of some of the most innovative, interesting, current, supportive and brilliant practice when it comes to teaching and learning. Looking for ideas on a certain topic? Get on there and as your PLN (professional learning network) develops, you’ll find that the teachers on Twitter will help you.

I can honestly say that I would not be in the position I am now in my career if it hadn’t been for the support and opportunities that I have been able to take up based upon my connections with others on Twitter.

I was delivering a session on innovative wall displays a few months ago, so I thought I would ask Twitter if they would like to share some of their wall displays. I had literally hundreds of replies from teachers all over the world. I was blown away with the amount of creativity and willingness to share that I saw. Reflecting upon this and other times where my personal learning network (PLN) have helped me out, caused me to reflect upon why Twitter is such a very good place for professional learning. It leads me to think about why teachers have such a great community on Twitter, and what it is to be a teacher. The thing about it is, you know what your staffroom is like, it will be full of all of the different kinds of teacher. There will be those looking to share their practice, share their wins and their failings, those willing to open themselves up to help and support others (some not so much) - Twitter is just like that, and it’s for that reason that people often call Twitter the best staffroom in the world.

Anatomy of a tweet

There are a number of elements that make up a tweet. The diagram below goes some way to explaining these.

The various elements that make up a Tweet

Depending upon whether you have done a retweet, a favourite, or a reply, the icons will look slightly different. The diagram below shows you what each of the different states looks like. This works both inside the Twitter app and also on the Twitter website.

The various states of the reply, favourite and retweet buttons.

How to find people for your PLN

There are lots of ways in which you can learn to connect with others using Twitter, however one such way that many people used to engage with Twitter chats. Twitter chats take place normally on a weekly basis and are based around the use of a simple hashtag such as #UKEdChat.

#UKEdChat is one of the longest standing chats on Twitter in the United Kingdom. Not only is it a great place to find others to connect with, the practice shared there every Thursday night between 8 and 9 PM is fantastic. Additionally all of the chance to take place are archived on the #UKEdChat website.

This is not the only chat which takes place on Twitter, there are lots of them. Many thanks to Jon Tait for sharing these images below which highlight some of the chats which you can engage with.

Many thanks to @TeamTait for these images
Many thanks to @TeamTait for these images

What are the rules?

Twitter etiquette

Like when using most social as and educator, Twitter use should require you maintain some decorum of professionalism.

It is a fantastic platform for sharing, learning and networking with other educators. There are some very simple rules that you might like to follow:

Do not....

  • Don't follow students
  • Don't use foul language
  • Don't say anything that you wouldn't be prepared to say to your mother
  • Don't say anything that you wouldn't be prepared to say to your principal or headteacher
  • Do not promote hatred

Do...

  • Share and share alike
  • Promote positive aspects of your classroom
  • Ask questions
  • Engage in Twitter chats
  • Respect copyright
  • Respect others opinions
  • Learn from each other

Tweacher

Another way to develop your PLN is to use a search tool such as Tweacher. Twitter's search tool isn't great when it comes to finding great teachers to follow and so Tweacher can help.

The Tweacher website

Next steps...

Once you have gained some confidence in using social media such as Twitter to develop your ideas, share with others and learn within your personal learning environment, you might want a bit more. A key aspect of a personal learning environment (PLE) which makes it differ from your PLN is that the PLE is not people but a collection of tools that you use to help you with your learning.

Many educators turn to blogging as a natural progression from using Twitter, however it is quite a large jump. Enter Staffrm. Staffrm is a free sharing community of positive teachers who share their short (500 word) posts, reflecting on their practice or sharing ideas with others. It's fab. Really positive. And free.

Created By
Mark Anderson
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Created with images by rick - "intolerance"

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