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I have learned a few things since becoming an active Twitter user. Maybe you will find them helpful.
First, decide how you plan to use Twitter. If you are a teacher, school administrator, or are otherwise connected with education, I suggest you use Twitter mainly, if not exclusively, for professional development. Perhaps what turned me off Twitter so completely in the beginning, was that the 140 character limit seemed somehow to encourage short, pithy but ultimately meaningless proclamations. It all seemed to be TMI.
When choosing who to follow, read through their tweets. What do you notice? How often does the user tweet? Are the tweets original tweets, retweets, responses to others tweets, or a mixture? This tells you something. If all of the user’s tweets are retweets, look closely. Does the user retweet information that is helpful and relevant for you? If so, great. If not, think twice. When was the last time the user tweeted? If it was several months ago, or longer, notice that. Maybe you follow, maybe not.
If, like me, you teach reading and writing, consider following these organizations and people:
@ncte, @edutopia, @donalynbooks,@TCRWP,@nerdybookclub,@frankisibberson, @TeachersCollege, @ChoiceLiteracy, @raisealithuman, @colbysharp,@BethMooreTCRWP, @MrShuReads, @pennykittle, @flynn_catherine,@franmcveigh. @CathyMere, @LBaie, @azajacks.
There are many, many others. You will have fun finding the ones that work for you. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt. And the “prizes” are great!
Check out @TheEdCollab. It might be one of the most exciting things to come to Twitter yet. Explore their groups. Create an account.
When you decide to follow someone, do not expect that person to follow you back. I know this sounds a little middle school, but in this age of Instagram likes and Facebook friend counts, people do think about this. It doesn’t matter. You are following users who will help you grow. Remember your purpose. Twitter is an amazing platform for making connections beyond your classroom and school walls.
Don’t try to grow the number of people you follow too fast. It takes time. As you explore Twitter, you will discover who to follow. That is part of the learning process. It’s fun. Be patient.
Plan to use Twitter regularly. It isn’t the time drain that Facebook can be. You can quickly scroll through your Twitter news feed and see what you might like to come back to. Try to tweet regularly. It doesn’t have to be every day, but if you don’t tweet at all, you will have a hard time growing your presence on Twitter and then you’ve lost the benefit. Tweeting is scary at first. So try retweeting a quality tweet.
When you tweet, experiment with relevant hashtags. It increases the visibility of your tweet. As you explore Twitter, you will find the hashtags that put you in touch with other educators whose interests and areas of focus compliment yours. It’s easy to find lists of hashtags on Google.
Many tweets include links that take you to the meat of the tweet, so to speak. There are two ways you can mark those if you want to be able to find them later. You can favorite the tweet, which then allows you to find it on your favorites list on your own Twitter page. Or, you can use Pocket. I learned about the App Pocket from Stacey Shubitz. Stacey is one of the founders of the Two Writing Teachers blog, a favorite of mine. She is also active on Twitter. I got to know Stacey through her blog and Twitter, and then we met and had lunch at Teachers College during the June Writing Institute. In fact, we had lunch with 3 Twitter friends. It was great fun to meet them in person. Anyway, back to Pocket. It is an app that allows you to take a link that you’ve gotten to through Twitter and save it (the article) to the App.
Here is what my Pocket app looks like so far. I now have these resources at my fingertips.
Participate in a Twitter chat. There is one tonight at 8, hosted by NCTE. You’ll find others once you establish a good base of people and organizations to follow.
This article from TCRWP is full of helpful hints. Did you know Ts stands for teachers and Ss stands for students? Shortcuts like those help save characters and are also great when you’re racing to type during a Twitter chat.
If you’re a teacher, you should be on Twitter. Now. Let’s meet there. Good luck!