I’ve been spending some time puzzling over why I love to follow some Twitter accounts but others, even though they are sharing and promoting great ideas, I find a little off-putting.
I’ve realised that for me, it comes down to word choice.
Accounts that I enjoy following tend to use reflective and inclusive language. They offer solutions and ideas, rather than telling. They’ll preface a comment with ” I think…” or they’ll offer a solution with “This might…” or ” What if …”
I like that language because it’s open. People can take or leave the advice. It’s respects diversity, provides space for other opinions and remains humble while sharing expertise and ideas.
The accounts I find off putting tend to make frequent use of authoritative language:”Teachers should, must, need to”
They also make frequent use of evaluative language: “correct”.
Both types of language seem to position the Tweeter as a higher authority. Someone who is there to tell and to make judgements.
In real life, we tend only to use that type of language when we are in a role of positional authority, such as a principal or other school leader. Even then, we tend to use it sparingly.
In our real life interactions it is rare to go to our colleagues and say to them “You should be doing x in your classroom.”
With colleagues, we tend to be more moderate in our language. We suggest, encourage and share, but we don’t tell, command or judge. Rather than saying “you should” we would make a suggestion, “Have you thought of trying..” or “Here’s a strategy that may help”.
And so, as I continue to tweet and blog, I’m going to endeavour to address my colleagues in the same way I would speak to them. As a colleague on an equal footing not as an authority.