Are you a teacher using Twitter?
As a first blog on our new .co.uk domain, I thought it was best to do what I do best: offer 7 Twitter Tips for Teachers.
One of the most popular posts of all my 815 blogs to date, is 10 Tips for Tweeting Teachers. I wrote it in 2014 and although it has had over 24,000 views at the time of writing, yet much has changed on Twitter and within the Twitter-edusphere from publication. So, without further ado, here are my 7 (revised) top Twitter tips.
A Twitter handle or ID is another way of saying your account name. Choose something simple. Something that defines you or the purpose of the account, as well as something easy to remember for others. Keep it consistent too! There’s nothing worse than people who regularly change their Twitter ID or have something incredibly complicated to remember or type. If you’re creating an account for tweeting about teaching, then keep it related to this field. If you want to tweet about personal views and your social life, do it from a personal account and perhaps consider using your own name or something like a hobby. Keep accounts separate if you can. I made this mistake in 2008 and soon created a second Twitter account to separate my work from my personal life.
Social media has transformed my practice and without it my knowledge of education would be limited to my place of work and real-life connections.
Before signing up to use Twitter, define a purpose for your Twitter account. If you are not sure, observe from a distance before jumping in. Consider your role and/or subject as a theme. If you are prepared to contribute, to share, to reflect, then you will get instant feedback. If your contributions are high in quality, then you will get a lot of feedback – sometimes critique, so make sure you are ready for that!
The first headache to overcome, is the definitions and use of the software. The long-term gain is getting over the use of application and ‘sticking with it’. Like anything in the classroom, the reward is won after the hard work ‘learning’ how to use Twitter.
Twitter growth has been very slow compared to other social media platforms, so throughout 2016 and 2017, Twitter has rapidly updated the various things you can do. However, the core uses and purpose of Twitter remains:
Tweet: A Twitter message can contain up to 140 characters of text, as well as photos, videos, and other forms of media. Treat the message like a public text-message to the world unless you setup a Protected Account or message someone privately as a Direct Messages.
Retweet: A Tweet that is re-shared to the followers of another user’s Twitter account. A new feature on Twitter is that you can also re-tweet your own messages. This allows you to dig up some historical messages, or all ow for important updates to be exposed once more.
Now you have an account, it’s time to think more about your tweets and who to follow! The homepage (feed) is where updates and information from other users is presented to you by those you follow. This becomes a vital source of information, bias and resources, so choose who to follow carefully. If you’re unsure, try the following for inspiration:
When starting out, it is important to respond to everyone. Thank people. Ask questions. Read their blogs and feedback on resources. Join in hashtag conversations to connect with other people you may not already be following. This is also important to allow other to see you who may not be following you. For the first 2 or 3 years, this is all I did. I tuned into UKedchat every week without fail – and 4 years later, created @SLTchat.
There will of course be arguments – and you may observe from the sidelines or be embroiled in disagreements yourself. There will be much discussion on Twitter – especially during the school holidays when teachers have more time to tweet, expressing their opinion (sometimes on others) can get a little off-putting. It’s a steep learning curve and I’ve learnt the hard way. People will congratulate and berate you and your work. It’s up to you how to respond. Block, mute and unfollow are very useful features if you’re Twitter account is openly setup. You may also want to consider the views of your employer and how you may be perceived. Read more.
Mention: The act of tagging another user’s handle or account name in a social media message. Mentions typically trigger a notification for that user and are a key part of what makes social media “social.” When properly formatted (for example, as an @mention on Twitter or +mention on Google+), a mention also allows your audience to click-through to the mentioned user’s bio or profile.
Direct Message: A direct message (DM) is a private Twitter message sent to one of your followers. Direct messages can be shared with a Twitter user who is already following you, and you can only receive direct messages from users you follow. However, you can enable and disable this feature for anyone to reach you. The danger is, you are available 24/7, so do turn off those notifications.
You can read more updates on the Twitter blog.
You may find that you are using Twitter personally and professionally, but you’re not quite sure how to get started in the classroom. Here are a few tips to get started and a few questions to ask yourself before using Twitter in the classroom.
Video is the platform for growth and connections in 2017, so at the start of the year, I promised myself to put my ‘mug-shot’ more in front of the camera than normal. I’ve started using Periscope more – an application built into Twitter to allow live video-feeds.
I’ve also been using the live-video options on my Facebook page, as well as publishing videos on my Instagram and YouTube channels. My plan is to use them more for ‘live’ content. It’s high risk depending on what you will use it for, but it leads to better engagement with your followers.
For years, my followers have assumed that all I do is tweet night and day. This could never be further from the truth. I have written about my social media journey and how I have used various software to schedule updates so that I can get on with my day-job, and my life. If you take social media seriously, then it’s a must-read from me.
Over time, you may wish to understand what works. I’ve written for one year on this subject, with a blogpost every month, highlighting the most popular content and the reasons behind it. Mastering Twitter is very easy to do. You can start with Twitter Analytics which is free and simple enough to grasp.