Today marks my 1-year anniversary of being a teacher on Twitter. I would be remiss if I did not reflect on what I have learned via this social media tool, and sharing is caring! There are many thoughts swirling in my mind, so as I go about my day I am compiling a big picture top ten list reminiscent of Late Night with David Letterman. It may arrive in installments.
The Top 5 Things I’ve Learned As A Teacher on Twitter
Follower Quality > Follower Quantity: Accounts that boast of their ability to help you gain followers will follow you. I’ve never taken any of them up on this offer and I usually block them outright. Why would I want to buy followers who possibly or probably have no interest in education? I have engaged in the chats that I am interested in over time and the results speak for themselves (image, below). The majority of my followers want to talk about what I want to talk about, which means I always learn something about education when I take the time to engage on Twitter.
Reciprocity Matters: When I was newer to Twitter I was shy to make myself and my ideas public, but I am glad I did. The reason why my personal learning network (PLN) has grown to its current size and composition is because I eventually took the plunge and actively joined educational Twitter chats. Lurking and learning isn’t nearly as effective as actively engaging in conversations about ideas with others if you are serious about building your PLN. It’s still a place to start though, and I still use it if I am paying attention but don’t have a lot to contribute (image, below). I also follow back all educators as a personal Twitter policy, and I rarely unfollow them.
It’s Not All or Nothing: You will have good Twitter days and bad Twitter days. Sometimes you will find three amazing chats occurring at the same time (image, below) and you will eventually make your way to Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. Or, if like me, you still prefer Twitter itself, you will be more present in one chat at the expense of the others. It’s okay. Twitter professional/personal development (PD) is 24/7 nearly 365 days a year (it was a little slow over Christmas) and you can’t be perfect at it, but that’s no reason to quit. It’s actually good practice at being “perfectly imperfect.”
Resources and Ideas Abound: Teaching should not be proprietary; if an idea helps 30 students then it could help many more if educators play nice and share. The educators on Twitter, by and large, feel this way, and that means there are many helpful resources and ideas on Twitter, limited only by your ability to find them in Twitter’s ever scrolling feed (recently, Participate Learning helps with this). From Doug Robertson‘s open invitation to help each other with lesson planning to new books you’ve never heard of (images, below) that will absolutely change your teaching practice if you take the time to read them, there is a wealth of free and helpful educational information on Twitter.
This Is Not Sit and Get: Lately some Twitter educators have suggested that educational Twitter chats are too much like the sit-and-get format that we are attempting to avoid in our classrooms. Of course you can sit-and-get on Twitter, but the resources and ideas are only as good as you are at giving them the good ol’ college try (sorry, Yoda). You will need to take action, and this means taking risks. After reading A. J. Juliani’s book and watching the Genius Hour feed scroll by, I implemented my own version of it which I called Project AMP. It took a lot of work, a lot of explaining why to students, and it put me out of my comfort zone a few times, but I have absolutely no regrets because it gave my students an authentic opportunity to shine (images, below and this link, for example).