A few weeks ago we designed a half day of personalized, professional learning for our staff and we had an explosion of people sign up for Twitter – which I couldn’t be more excited about! Many of them shared the same question:
“I signed up for Twitter. Now what?”
So, to all the amazing risk-takers I work with, who took the plunge and joined the wonderful world of Twitter, I dedicate this post to you.
Here is my advice about what to do next:
I know there is often hesitation from new users to post a picture of themselves on their Twitter profile, but I can tell you that it is essential. If I’m being honest, as a Twitter user, I feel much more comfortable interacting with other Tweeters who have a profile picture and I rarely add someone who is rocking the “egg” (aka the default picture). In my experience, I have never had any Twitter experiences that have made me feel unsafe or regret my choice to de-egg.
Clarify your purpose
Are you interested in using Twitter as a tool for your own learning or for your students’ learning? Depending on what your primary purpose is, the nature of who you follow, what you post and how you use it will all hinge on this question. If your answer is both, I recommend having two separate accounts. One for your own learning, where you can follow other teachers, post your questions about teaching and learning and share your professional successes. And a separate one for your class where your class can follow other classes, your students can post their questions and they can share their learning successes.
Fill in your bio
When I am deciding who to follow on Twitter, I often refer to their bio to get a sense of who they are and what they might be Tweeting about. The more specific the better. If I’m going through a list and I can’t see where you teach or what you teach, I am probably not going to follow you. It doesn’t have to be too personal, but a few lines about your position (principal, Grade 3 teacher, PYP art teacher) and educational interests (inquiry, digital citizenship, play in the classroom) can really help you connect with other educators.
Begin to curate a collection of people you wish to follow
The more people you follow, the more useful your Twitter becomes. And the more you tailor your list of people to your specific position and interests, the more you will get out of Twitter. If you are using Twitter for your own learning, my advice is to start with this list of over 500 PYP educators. Scroll through, read the bios and follow anyone that you feel will be worth while. If you are using Twitter for your students’ learning then check out this list of tweeting classes, and scroll through with your students to select which classes you want to follow. Another great way to curate your list is to find someone relevant to your purpose and scroll through their list of followers.
Dip in – Dip out
Twitter is a never-ending, bottomless pit of amazingness. There are always “New Tweets”. This is both a blessing and a curse. Trying to see everything and stay up to date is futile, especially if you are new to Twitter. You can literally update your homepage every second and at least one new Tweet will appear. The best thing you can do it “dip in and dip out”. If you have 5 minutes to spare, open up your account and scroll through your homepage or your favourite hashtag. When your time is up log off.
“Like” things you wish to save for later
One of the best things about Twitter is that you can get a lot out of 5 minutes worth of browsing. One of the worst things about Twitter is that it is constantly changing and tweets get buried pretty easily as time ticks on. If you come across something you are interested in, “like” it and come back to it later when you have more time. All of your favourite Tweets are saved and can be accessed from your profile page so you can go back to them at any time.
But only when you are ready. For the first little while after I joined Twitter, I didn’t post anything. So if you are at the stage where you just want to browse, explore and discover the awesome ideas and resources that are being shared by other educators- that’s perfectly fine! When you have something “Tweet-worthy” you’ll know it. At my school we refer to this moments as the “You gotta come see this!” phone call or email that you send to your PYP coordinator when you just know amazing learning is taking place. So when you get that feeling – that you’re doing something with your students that you want everyone to know about – take a picture, log on to Twitter, click the icon of the feather and capture the magic with 140 characters or less. To help your Tweet reach more educators, choose from this list of popular education hash tags.
New Twitter users – what other questions do you have?
Experienced Twitter users – what other advice can you offer?