About Teaching

An Assistant Principal in an Australian Primary School

5 Tips for Teachers Getting Started on Twitter

Twitter is by far the most powerful professional learning network (PLN)  I participate in. Using it is like being at a teaching conference every day. I am constantly exposed to new ideas that inspire and challenge me to try new approaches and rethink old ones. Through Twitter I’ve met a great group of educators from around the world, all of whom are passionate about teaching. We have great discussions and share resources.

However, I know that for many, Twitter is a bewildering experience. It’s easy enough to join, but what then? How do you move from sending random thoughts into the ether, or following a small network of friends, to making connections with inspiring educators from around the world?

I thought I might share what I’ve learned so far on my Twitter journey in the hope that it might help others get started.

Tip 1: Let people know who you are

If you are planning on using Twitter to build a PLN it helps to have a public profile. That way its easier for people to find and follow you. Using a real name will add credibility to your account, but many people use nicknames, and that’s fine too. If you worry about mixing your personal and professional lives, you can always create an account just for your professional network and a separate one for private use.

You will also need to set up a bio. If you want to make connections with other educators, they need to know what you are about. If a random stranger starts following me without a bio,  I am unlikely to follow them back, but if their bio describes them as working or interested in education, I usually add them to my list right away.

Its a good  precaution to add a disclaimer such as ‘opinions are my own’ in your bio, making it clear that anything you say on Twitter is your own opinion and does not represent the views of your employer.

Here is a screenshot of mine:

Tip 2: Find some good educators to follow

I find these educators and organisations particularly helpful: @tes  @daveandcori  @gcouros    @principalj    @patrickmlarkin  @edutopia

To find more people, have a look at who the people you are following follow.

Another way to find people to follow is to use the search function. For example, today I did a search for “Flip Classroom”. Have a look at the results:

Not only did I find some great links about flipping the classroom, I also found some great educators who might be worth following!

Tip 3: Start Contributing

It’s possible to get a lot out of Twitter  just by lurking and seeing what others have shared, but since I’ve started joining in the conversation I’ve found my experience  more rewarding.

One way to begin contributing is to simply retweet links that other people have shared which you find useful. People appreciate this because it sends their message out to a wider audience. As you begin to share links that are useful, other people will begin to find you helpful as well, and your network will grow.

If you find a useful or thought provoking link, share that as well. For me, sharing is at the heart of what my PLN is all about.

Another way to contribute is to comment on what people have shared with you. If you found a link helpful, reply to that person and tell them you appreciated it. If you have a question or a thought about it, share that. You can start some great conversations that way.

Tip 4: Use Hashtags

Hashtags are a very useful way of sending out and searching for information on twitter. If you are sharing a resource about educational technology for example, add the hashtag #edtech. This way other people who are interested in educational technology will find it, even if they aren’t following you.

A great list of educational hashtags can be found here.

Hashtags are also useful for retweets. For example, you could change #edtech to #edchat. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it will allow the tweet to reach a different group of teachers than the original tweet. Secondly, you will avoid creating spam in the original  feed.

Tip 5: Use Lists

It took me a while to figure out lists, but as my network grew, it became essential. I reached a point when my twitter feed became overwhelming and I couldn’t keep up with the amount of information. To solve this I created lists that group the people I follow into areas of expertise or interest. I have a list for my friends, a list for teachers,  a list for educational policy and several more. If I want to catch up with my friends, I click their list and it will block out all the other traffic.

The native twitter clients for iPhone and iPad aren’t  great for using lists. I  use Tweetlist for iPhone and Hootsuite for iPad.

For more ideas for getting started, have a look at this article by Danny Nicholson (@dannynic):  Ten Twitter Tips for Teachers

I also like this one by @syded06, which very much describes my own journey: Teachers – The Ten Stages of Twitter

Do you have any Twitter tips? Leave them in the comments section.

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29 comments on “5 Tips for Teachers Getting Started on Twitter

  1. Mark
    July 9, 2012

    Great ideas. I also like to create a list of the accounts I like the most. For example I have on for @mytowntutorsma called Great MA teacher accounts. I like it because it narrows the amount of tweets, especially if you have many followers.

  2. Corinne
    July 9, 2012

    That’s a great idea Mark. Thanks so much for commenting.

  3. Sheryl Davis
    July 11, 2012

    Your tips were very helpful and being new to twitter I was thankful to find your connection.

    • Corinne
      July 11, 2012

      Thanks Sheryl, I’m glad it was useful.

  4. Julie Mahaffey
    July 13, 2012

    I enjoyed reading your post. I also use TweetChat. It refreshes automatically and is great to keep up with posts during a chat session.

    • Corinne
      July 13, 2012

      Oh Wow – I just had a look at their site. It looks really really good. I’ll definitely use it for chats in future. Thanks for the tip!

      • Julie
        July 13, 2012

        Great! By the way, you can use TweetChat to just view posts without having an account. You only have to have an account and sign in, if you want to post a tweet.

  5. Paula Naugle (@plnaugle)
    July 15, 2012

    Hi Corrine,
    I have been using Twitter since 2009 and as a member of the #Digifoot12 MOOC I am learning new things about the best ways to use Twitter. I have added this post to my collection. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Corinne
      July 15, 2012

      Hi Paula, thanks, I’m glad you found the post worth keeping. I was curious so I googled #digifoot 12. That looks like an amazing opportunity for learning! I love all the innovative ways people are now able to connect and learn across the world. Hope it goes well.

  6. Pingback: You’ve Started on Twitter – What Now? | About Teaching

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  8. Pam
    July 23, 2012

    Hi Corinne. Great succinct post for newbies to twitter. I use Hootsuite on the ipad too and use Tweetdeck on my Mac – although I’m a bit annoyed that it isn’t shortening urls in links. I have just started using Twitterific on the ipad, which I like because you can click to see the conversations.

    • Corinne
      July 24, 2012

      Hi Pam, thanks so much for commenting and I’m glad you liked the post. I’m not really happy with Hootsuite on the iPad, it’s started to develop a few bugs recently and crashes a lot. I might check out Twitterific – thanks for the suggestion!

  9. Richard Black
    August 31, 2012

    Thanks Corinne. Using this for my iToast session this morning. Helping some teachers connect. You’ll be one of the first people they follow! Great article with great links too.

    • Corinne
      August 31, 2012

      Thanks Richard, I’m honoured that you’ll be using my material. I’m looking forward to connecting with more educators – keeps me motivated and inspired!

  10. TEDDY KAFWANKA
    December 14, 2012

    How can i open a tweet account? I v found this network very inspiring as a teacher. please help me.

  11. Electro Lifes
    January 9, 2013

    Thank you for this helpful article. Very useful for beginners like me.

  12. Pingback: Excellent Resources for Twitter in Education… « Purposeful Tech

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  14. garcinia cambogia
    April 10, 2013

    Hi to all, the contents present at this web site are really awesome for people experience, well,
    keep up the nice work fellows.

    • Corinne
      April 10, 2013

      Thank you Garcinia, I appreciate the feedback

  15. Lisa
    April 15, 2013

    Very helpful article, suitable for early adopters like me. Thanks for sharing.

    • Corinne
      April 15, 2013

      Thanks, Lisa. I’m glad you liked it.

  16. Tina Photakis
    April 15, 2013

    This is a very useful blog post, Corinne and it is great revisiting and sharing it again.

    • Corinne
      April 15, 2013

      Thanks Tina. I’m glad its still relevant.

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