When I first heard about Twitter, I couldn’t see the point. Why would I use it? I already had Facebook for annoying updates on my banal activities, why would I need another place to do this? Then I became a teacher and it all became clear.
Twitter is full to the brim of people sharing ideas with one another, having lively discussions and debates and there’s generally lots of learning ready and waiting at your fingertips whatever the time of day or night.
Here’s a post I wrote for Bring A Teacher To Twitter (@batttuk) at the start of my Twitter journey, or at least, my second attempt:
My name is Hannah Tyreman and I live my life at 140 characters at a time. Any teacher on Twitter who isn’t saying the same, is far too newly hatched… or in a state of addiction denial.
Unlike many other addictions, which are harmful to health (kids, just say no!) Twitter is an addiction to embrace wholeheartedly and fall in love with. There may well be pauses and breaks in your passionate love affair but it will return with renewed vigour and surprise you with its possibilities all over again.
I might be in the renewing of wedding vows stage of the relationship now (things move fast in the Twittersphere). Since my recent return to Twitter, I have gained so many new ideas that have transformed my practice. Some of the aspects that have had influenced my teaching have been:
- Writing on windows
- Silent debating
- Poundland Pedagogy!
- 5 minute lesson plan
- Technology ideas
I have been writing on my blog with fresh enthusiasm and my love for teaching has been reignited as a result. I have fully embraced the unique CPD and networking opportunities offered.
Present day: Twitter has opened up incredible opportunities and experiences for me:
Amjad Ali was one of my first ‘Twitter friends’- yes, brace yourself, you may make friends online! Through my connection to him, we ran several joint TeachMeets and I attended many others as a result of our connection.
Through numerous connections to fellow Tweachers, I was able to get #ReadTL conferences off the ground two years in a row and we had a range of fantastic speakers each year.
I have been rescued from dives in self-belief, I have been inspired by #pedagoofriday with teachers sharing their creative classroom ideas and I have learned so much from reading other teachers’ blogs; many of them changing my views on aspects of education.
Here’s what one of our new Tweachers had to say after joining:
‘This is the first time that I have used Twitter and did not realise it could be used in this way. I have read many of the items on there and have found lots of teaching ideas that I am keen to try in September. I have also found it really interesting to read about other people’s experiences and it reminds you that there are many teachers out there having the same experiences! It is a great way of sharing ideas across institutions and not being confined to the one we are working in. I am keen to use it more in the future.’
Here’s what a number of my favourite Tweachers had to say about why they’re on Twitter and who they would recommend following (click the image below):
Once you join Twitter, it can be incredibly daunting to decide who to follow. The wall above will have helped and my list below may help too. I find one thing that really works is to look at the profile of someone you like following and see who they’re following- this can lead to some awesome finds (careful not to click ‘follow’ on too many people in one go though as Twitter will think you’re a robot).
Amjad Ali– because his blog is incredible and his support knows no bounds!
Stephen Lockyer– for lighthearted tweets and reminders of what it’s really all about
Staffrm– blogs from a range of fabulous teachers and access to a whole community of support, debate and ideas.
Rachel Jones– for technology, uplifting inspiration and honest teaching reflections.
Dan@Design Thinking– for creative poster and display ideas.
Mary Myatt– for experienced guidance, lots of resources and for busting through Ofsted jargon
Jenn Ludgate– for creative lesson ideas (especially if you’re a teacher of English)
Zoe Elder– for full-on teaching and learning inspiration
Jamie Clark– for seriously creative teaching resources (especially if you’re a teacher of English)
Mark Anderson– for tech, growth mindset, heck, all things teaching & learning!
Mark Creasy– for lots of ideas and support on all things teaching and life
David Didau– for everything teaching, busting what we think we know and the biggest Twitter debates and discussions
John Tomsett– for seriously sound leadership advice
Oli Trussell– for great Google hacks
Ross McGill– because he’s the most followed educator on Twitter…
Paul Warren– for enthusiasm, encouragement, an LSA’s perspective and technology ideas
James Kieft– for lots of technology-related tweets, apps and ideas
David Weston– for lots of good sense in relation to CPD
Sarah Simons– for connections to further education and the #ukfechat community
Martin Burrett– for learning technologies and connection to the #ukedchat community
Tom Bennett– for education research and realistic behaviour advice
Pedagoo– for links to a whole community of sharing teachers
Martyn Reah– for all things wellbeing and #teacher5aday
Tom Starkey– for his hilarious and honest writing style
Alex Quigley– he writes on all things teaching & learning (especially for English teachers)
Dan Williams– for support, ideas and an FE perspective
Matt Bromley– what he doesn’t know about learning…
Echo Chamber– they tweet out blogs written by all kinds of education professionals
I’m sure I’ve forgotten some fab people but such is the nature of Twitter- there’s an endless supply of fabulous educators to follow.
Whilst I will endlessly shout about the benefits of teachers and educators being on Twitter, whether you’re an active participant or not, there are health warnings to heed:
- Be prepared for conversations that are only ever on the verge of taking place in the staffroom. Give a teacher their Tweeting weapons and some are fully equipped for a fight before you’ve even stepped into the ring. Keep your dignity at all times and walk away from any such confrontations with your head held high.
- You will remain invisible from many if you do not heed the advice of your elders. Get a profile picture, use @ and # to avoid tweeting soundlessly into the ether.
- Being a magpie is great but it’s only so long before you are unable to move for your sparkling hoard of resources, ideas, voices, blogs, activities, links… Take care with who you follow and what you choose to save.
- Give any new idea time, testing and thought before unleashing it relentlessly on your unwitting students or ruthlessly ruling it out completely.
- On Twitter, five minutes will quickly turn into 20, one idea will turn into ten and 30 followers will turn into 300.
Who would have thought CPD could come in a love drug with a trip as powerful and enjoyable as this? Aside from the side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and disapproval from friends, family and colleagues a like… Twitter really is worth the leap.
Other helpful information
Click the image below for a fantastic introduction to Twitter from Sparky Teaching
As you embark on your Twitter journey, this 10 stages of Twitter will begin to feel familiar to you.
Twitter chats mean that a whole bunch of educators will be online, discussing a set topic at a set time. You can just observe their discussion and sharing if you wish. Just search the hashtag to follow what’s going on and if you decide you’d like to participate, just ensure you use the hashtag in your tweets so that other people are more easily able to follow your thoughts and reply to you. The following three chats are my top 3 recommendations:
A beginners guide to Twitter chats for educators can be found here.
All Twitter chats on a variety of subjects are listed here.
This is slightly outdated now but this presentation was used to introduce some of my college colleagues to Twitter, why not do the same in your school or college? (click the image to open):
A video guide to changing aspects of your profile:
A video guide to tweeting, retweeting and replying: