To tweet or not to tweet?

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A post about Twitter for new teachers … but if you are new to social media, this one is for you too

OK, so you have just started your first teaching job or perhaps you are starting a teacher training (PGCE – if you are a UK reader). It’s a big step so you want to get it right, make a decent impression and avoid the pitfalls. Trouble is, you are not totally sure what the pitfalls are.

Get it right!

Social media is one potential winner but also a potential pitfall. In fact, get it wrong and you could be in serious trouble. However, get it right and you could find yourself making important connections which, you never, know, could lead to future employment or other opportunities.

So, here are some thoughts on what to do:

  • Have a look at a few profiles on the GuardianTeacher network or their twitter feed.
  • Consider where the Headsroundtable movement would be without their twitter account?
  • Check out the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) crowd and see how folks like Daniel Edwards (@syded06), Martin Burrett (@ICTmagic) and Mark Anderson (@ICTevangelist) share their ideas for using tech?
  • All this aside from your own subject feeds such as #EngChatUK, #historyteacher or #MFLtwitterati run by Joe Dale (@joedale).
  • Read the blogs of leading headteachers such as Tom Sherrington (@headguruteacher) or John Tomsett (@johntomsett) or Tricia Kelleher.
  • There are some great learning feeds from schools such as @Wellylearning and @SPFLearning (OK, I am biased on that last one).
  • Don’t get stuck in the UK with #UKedchat- check out the #edchat or #mlearning feeds and see some of the educationalist from the US, Canada, Australia – anywhere. Have a look at Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) or John Falino (@johnfalino1) for example.

The great thing about twitter is that you can listen without contributing if you want. So, you have nothing to lose. At the very least, twitter is your personalised news and information feed – information delivered to you. Create twitter lists and you will find this easy. TweetDeck can be a real help too – it’s free for Mac or PC.

How is your online profile?

One thing is for sure – if you apply for a job, it is very likely that your school will do an search for your online profile. If you have been careful to avoid having any online presence – no twitter account, no facebook, no linkedin, no blog – then this is looking increasingly surprising. Afterall, why would you not want to engage with some of the greatest sources of information, discussion and continuing professional development?

So, have a look around and see what some of the leaders in the teaching profession are saying. More than this, realise that there are some genuine opinion-formers online and not all of these are vastly experienced teachers. Some of in their early years in the profession and, very rightly, they have a lot to say that is helpful.

twitterTop 10 twitter tips

  1. Start with some of the twitter links here and see who these people follow.
  2. Search for the main UK education chat area #UKedchat and the main global one #edchat. See who is contributing to their discussions and follow people who look interesting from their profiles.
  3. Follow the education feeds from some of the national daily papers such as @tele_education and @guardianedu
  4. Find the twitter hashtags (#) for your subject – here is a handy list of some of the of the main ones.
  5. Create some twitter lists of your own – it will help you to organise your feed – don’t restrict who you follow.
  6. Avoid self-promotion – you know it when you see it and it doesn’t look great!
  7. Avoid ‘private’ conversations on a public social media site. If you need to have a chat about your latest holiday pic, your trip to the pub or the excellent lunch you have made – then shift to direct messaging or send an email or facebook post where your network is closed.
  8. Be careful what you say – your electronic footprint is, pretty much, permanent. If there is ‘rubbish’ on your account have a clean-out. Just as important, use your account really positively. This will bury the bad stuff and leave a much more encouraging impression. If you just can’t help yourself, make sure your account doesn’t mention your name! It doesn’t have to.
  9. Join in some twitter discussions – remember to include the hashtag – it will help your offering to be found.

Finally…

10. Enjoy the best, free continual professional development that you can find. If you aren’t impressed, unfollow and follow someone more interesting – you’ve nothing to lose!

Follow me: @s_armitage

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Postscript

@ICTevangelist posted this infographic a while back (the image contains a direct link to the source). It has some other tweeting teachers mentioned in it. It will give you an idea about how twitter can work. However, remember that this was done when teachers like @TeamTait had a twitter network to draw on. If you are starting from the beginning, don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t immediately leap into action for you! Keep on listening and join in – it doesn’t take long to develop a personal learning network (PLN) of your own.

Further reading:

Daniel Edwards, The 10 Stages of Twitter

Tom Sherrington, Educational Twitter: CPD; Community; Inspiration

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4 thoughts on “To tweet or not to tweet?

  1. Great blog – really useful for teachers new to Twitter and packed with sound advice and suggestions.

    The hashtag #ecbusteach is really good for connecting with Economics and Business Teachers – for anyone interested.

    Jim

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