I recently discovered TeachThought.com, and boy, am I glad I did. I’ve already found a number of great reads on the site and certainly plan on making this site a regular stop on my internet tour. One thing that jumped out to me was the post, 100 Twitter Tips for Teachers. The tips are broken down into several catergories: The Basics, Connecting, Classroom, Professional Life, Pro Tools, Who to Follow, and Applications to Emmulate. The list is a good one, with a ton of great tips, but if I was sharing Twitter tips with others, I wouldn’t have such a big list. I’d shrink the list down to not overwhelm someone new to Twitter. With that being said, below are my 11 Twitter Tips for Educators, narrowed down from TeachThoughts 100, with some of their notes mixed in with my commentary.
Why 11?? I chose 11 for a couple of useless reasons. It’s 1 more than 10 so that means it’ll be better than every Top 10 list out there. This is the same reason Kobe Bryant (supposedly) changed his number to 24 – it’s one better than 23, Michael Jordan’s number and he wants to be better than Jordan. Another reason I chose 11? It’s my favorite number. My number as the starting point guard on the 7th and 8th grade basketball team? 11. My number as the starting QB on the 7th and 8th grade football team? Yep, 11. My jersey number for my beer league softball team? You guessed it, 11. Enough about my overrated athletic skills, let’s get to my list.
My Top 11 Twitter Tips for Teachers
- Flesh out your bio. You’ll get more mileage out of your Twitter account if you actually create a profile that says something about you, offering potential followers information about your interests, professional or otherwise. This is a must and the best to way to gain (or not gain) followers!
- Educate yourself on the basics. Learn the basic terminology for Twitter and the major functions it can perform by doing a little reading on helpful social media blogs beforehand. You’ll thank yourself later.
- Learn how to use hashtags. It’s pretty much impossible to have not seen the hashtags that have been plastered on, well, everything in the past few years. But do you really know how to use them? A quick lesson can help you learn the ropes. Keep an eye on #edchat and this huge list of educational hashtags.
- Understand that following isn’t obligatory. If someone follows you, you’re not obligated to follow them back. The opposite is true as well, so don’t be offended if someone doesn’t follow you even though you’re following them.
- Always credit your sources. If you find a great gem on Twitter, don’t just copy and paste. Always make it clear that you’re retweeting someone else’s material. Not doing so isn’t just rude, it could also get your Twitter account suspended.
- Take part in Follow Fridays. Every Friday, Twitter explodes with suggestions on who to follow. Offer up your own and you may just end up in someone else’s suggestions. There are 2 forms of this – #ff and #followfriday
- Look for lists. If you’re struggling to find people to follow, look for lists of suggestions online or pick an account you love and look to who they’re following for inspiration. Steve Anderson and Richard Byrne are two educators with a large amount of followers.
- Share what you’re reading. Found a great new blog? Share it. Reading an interesting article? Share it. If it’s interesting, it’ll probably get retweeted and passed around.
- Pass on information about events. You might know about the a conference or event in your area, but other may not. Share information about talks, conferences, and other academic events that other might find interesting.
- Share your Twitter discoveries with others. If you’re having great success using Twitter, why not share that experience with your colleagues? Tell them where you got that great new resource or tool. Volunteer to teach them more about Twitter.
- Find support. We all need support in our jobs, even if we’re really good at them. Twitter is a great place to look if you’re having “one of those days.”
Below are a two of tips from the article that I disagree with. You might not, but my thoughts are below in italics.
Create separate accounts. If you plan to use Twitter for your classes, yourself, or just for fun, you’ll probably need to keep everything straight and to ensure that each is focused on just one topic. I agree that having a separate class Twitter account is a must, but I see nothing wrong with mixing your personal life and professional life. You are who you are and there’s not a problem mixing the two and letting your followers get to know the real you.
Stick to a core topic. Ideally, you want to keep your Twitter account pretty focused on a single topic, whether it’s your class, your professional work, or even just stupid things you find on the Internet. The more focused it is, the more useful it will be to both you and your followers. I disagree – tweet about whatever you want. If people don’t like it, they will unfollow you. It’s important to keep your audience in mind and to know what your purpose is for tweeting, but tweeting about a tv show or sporting event, or even your kids, isn’t a horrible idea.