Getting Connected – How My School Encourages Staff to Use Twitter.

Those of us who have spent time using social media to build a personal learning network often talk about the transformative effect it has had on us professionally. We are part of a global staffroom, encouraging and learning from each other, sharing ideas, becoming inspired to look deeper in to what we do and how we do it.

It’s a very natural thing to want our coworkers to become involved in this too. We want them to experience the same inspiring, transformative experience  that we have.  Yet, we are often met with skepticism and disinterest when we try to explain to others how powerful connected learning is.

My colleague, @susiej18 and I have been trying for a long time now to persuade our colleagues to get involved, but with little success until recently.

The world of Twitter and PLNs is still alien to many, and it takes time to figure out how to use it in a way that is beneficial. Many of our colleagues couldn’t really see the point of it. So, instead of trying yet again to bring them into our online world, we decided to bring our PLN to theirs.

Step 1: A Website

We started by building a professional learning website and blog where we could share some of the great resources and ideas that we have picked up on our Twitter journey. You can check out our website here. We publicise the website at meetings, and post updates on our staff bulletin.

Step 2: Twitter

The second part of our strategy was to create a Twitter account, @CCPSlearning, that we use to publicise updates to the website and share other links and news items we think might be relevant to our staff. Of course, most of our colleagues are not using Twitter, so this could be seen as an exercise in futility, but that’s where the rest of the strategy fits in.

Step 3: Facebook

In addition to the Twitter account, we set up a Facebook page. Our Twitter account automatically posts its updates to Facebook as well. While very few of our colleagues use Twitter, we know that most of them are on Facebook. All they have to do is “Like” our page, to receive our updates. Even if they never log into Twitter or our website, they will at least start to see some of the valuable things that we discover.

Step 5: Workshops

Finally, once all of this was in place, we sought the permission of our principal to run a professional learning workshop  for all our staff in which every teacher had to create a Twitter account and follow @CCPSlearning. Surprisingly, this part of the workshop was met with enthusiasm. Many of our colleagues commented that they had been curious about Twitter for sometime, and were happy to have the opportunity to explore it.

That was just over a month ago.

After all that effort and so much energy put into making it accessible, we’ve made just limited progress. We know from our hit counter that only a few of our colleagues actually look at the website, and most, even after the positive feedback from our Twitter workshop, have not sent a single tweet since that day. Of our staff over 30 teachers, only 10 have connected with the Facebook page.

Of course there are some who will never participate, and that’s okay – connected learning is not for everyone.

But there are signs that things are changing.

A small group of colleagues are gradually becoming more and more visible on Twitter. Their eggs have been replaced with photographs. They’ve started sharing links, retweeting others, and even commenting and joining in conversations. Very occasionally they will ‘Like’ an update on the Facebook page, or even post something to our page.

When I think about my own Twitter journey, I realise that it took me over a year before I started using it for professional learning. Perhaps it will be the same for others.

Change takes time.

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8 thoughts on “Getting Connected – How My School Encourages Staff to Use Twitter.

  1. Hi Corinne, great practical post. I have tried several approaches to get staff enthused and connected, but with minimal success (baby steps, i think my expectations are too high 🙂 I am going to have another go at it again this fall and try to get a couple of teachers blogging. That is great that you are beginning to see small changes occur on your staff and so important to recognize that change (starting new habits) does take time. I think you are right that many educators are very curious about twitter but don’t really know where to begin.
    Really appreciate your practical and down to earth approach to change and am enjoying your blog!

    • Hi Okmbio, Thanks so much for your positive feedback on my blog. That’s really encouraging!

      I like your idea of approaching it from the blogging angle. This isn’t something I’d considered before as I thought my colleagues might find it even more intimidating than Twitter. But now that I think about it, a few of them are keeping blogs with their classes, and one even developed a great website to share some online teaching resources with our school.

      So maybe blogging is actually a less intimidating way in to connected learning… and then Twitter would be a logical next step as they could use it to pubicise their blogs.

  2. Hi Corinne, one strategy that can work for some people is to show them how to use for some thing that interests them e.g. like a hobby. Some times this approach works because it motivates them to want to spend time learning how to use it for their own interest then it clicks how they can use it professionally.

    • Hi Sue,
      Thanks so much for commenting. That’s a great idea which makes so much sense! I’m definitely going to try approaching it from that angle.

      I love how the comments today are really helping me to think of new ways of doing things!

    • Hi Altheodi, Thanks very much for commenting. That’s great that you are interested in exploring how Twitter can enrich your teaching. There are so many ways that it can, from simply finding new teaching resources, to discussing and learning about different pedagogical approaches, or just being inspired by the enthusiasm of other educators.. I hope you find it as helpful as I have!

  3. Hi Corinne, I loved reading this post, and I also recognised the familiar pattern of staff ‘going along’ with a new(ish) idea in the meeting, but not quite doing the follow up. I admire that you and your colleague are doing such a great job of connecting via CCPS blog, FB page and so on.
    I so want to visit one day you know…
    As for twitter, I see the benefit of the always-on staff development, because I love learning and teaching. I also love working with teachers. Not all teachers have my (or your) enthusiasm for and love of the ways we can connect on-line.
    My own experience with twitter (and remember I had finishedworking in schools by then) was to connect as I was socially isolated. Giving people a reason to connect may not be, as someone else commented, for school/teaching reasons but to follow a trend, or a craft or something like a hobby.
    Teaching them about hashtags first..and then seeking what they’ve like to know more of first.
    Just a few thoughts. I realy appreciate what you are doing! Denyse

    • Hi Denyse,
      Yes, it can be hard to get the follow up done. I don’t think its a lack of willingness – more likely its a lack of time, and possibly the right equipment.

      I’m not sure if I would have taken it up if it had felt like work. If I had to sit at a desk to read my Twitter, I doubt I would have pursued it, but instead I usually tweet on my iPad, while curled up on the couch or in bed. Similarly, if I had started using Twitter deliberately for professional development, again it would have felt like work. LIke you, I started using it socially. The professional learning aspect came much later, and just sort of evolved naturally.

      So yes, maybe you and Sue are onto something. People need a reason to connect.

      As for coming to visit my school, I’m sure we can organise something!

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