Twitter is my favourite social media platform for teachers. I have promoted it many times on this blog because my Twitter connections provide daily support, inspiration and professional development. It might not be for everyone, but I encourage you to give it a try if you haven’t already. Set up a teacher account and start building your professional learning network (PLN). Many Twitter newbies will lurk for a while without posting at all, which is fine. You can always retweet until you have found your feet. But don’t hold back for too long. Teachers need each other and we will benefit from your sharing.
I have listed some common ‘sins’ that are worth keeping in mind. For different reasons, these mistakes are likely to make your Twitter experience less successful. I can’t speak for all educators. These are just my own standards. However, I do get the impression that others share these expectations. They are unwritten rules, I suppose.For different reasons, these mistakes are likely to make your Twitter experience less successful. Click To Tweet
Mixing personal and professional
My Twitter account is for professional use. In my opinion, it doesn’t work to mix education content with other areas of interest. If you would like to use Twitter for personal use, consider a separate account (from mobile devices, it’s really easy to switch back and forth). I don’t mind the occasional tweet that isn’t about education, especially if it’s a special occasion for that person. However, if I see too many tweets about football, Justin Bieber or the Kardashians, it’s likely to result in an unfollow. Twitter is home to thousands of amazing teachers who unite through their shared interest. I don’t want other things to get in the way.
I don’t expect everybody to love Twitter as much as I do. I don’t expect daily, or even weekly, tweets. You should use Twitter however much you want to and in whatever way works for you. However, accounts that are inactive for extended time periods are obviously not the most fruitful connections.
This is really important because people will make a snap decision about whether to follow you or not and this is probably what they will base it on. There’s no need to overthink it, but your bio should at least make it clear that you are a teacher. It might also highlight some specific specialisms or areas of interest. I rarely follow people with an empty bio because I’m unsure who they are or what value they will add to my PLN.
No profile picture
I want to feel personally connected to real teachers. A clear photo is essential. I’m not keen on logos either. They lack a personal touch. I can’t really explain it, but it matters.
There are many social media options for teachers and they all have value to some extent. However, in my experience, Twitter is a much more positive platform. In Facebook groups, for example, it’s more common for teachers to share their gripes and frustrations about their work, school or colleagues. It’s rare that teachers express these negative thoughts on Twitter. We just don’t need them.
As teachers, it’s unacceptable to communicate through bad language (however mild). We are role models both online and offline. It isn’t usually the teachers themselves who are using bad language, but they might occasionally retweet it or share an article that includes it. I’m strict about this. There’s no place for bad language in my Twitter feed.
This should go without saying, but it’s more common than you might think. Twitter is a fantastic place for debates and disagreements. In a field as complex as education, it’s vital that we challenge ideas. But we can always conduct ourselves with professionalism and integrity. Sadly, some people (even teachers) are unable to respectfully disagree. If a teacher is unable to express their opinion without nastiness (even if I agree with them), it will always result in an instant unfollow/block. We should have zero tolerance.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
It seems out of character for me to write negatively about Twitter when everybody knows how much I love it. The above sins are not the norm. When you scroll through your feed, the items should be uplifting, encouraging, helpful and inspirational. 99% of the time, they are. If the occasional person ruins it, simply unfollow them. My Twitter experience is positive because I follow the right people.
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These are exactly the same rules I follow! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing. I’m pleased that this post resonated with you.
These are some great tips! I have a personal Twitter (that is quite political) and decided a few months in to set up a teacher Twitter. I’m glad I did!
I just found you and followed you. I’m pleased to hear that your Twitter experience is going well. I’m pleased to have discovered your blog too. Great to connect!
Thanks so much!
Adam, it used to bother me when teachers were negative on Twitter, and I still follow that rule of my own (here are my guidelines: http://geniushour.blogspot.com/2017/06/my-personal-twitter-rules.html), but I have found that sometimes they help me. For example, if I’ve had a terribly rough day and see another teacher say something similar to something I WISH I could let myself tweet, I feel community there. Also, if teachers are sharing that genius hour (or something else) doesn’t work well for them, I can consider that and write about how it sometimes doesn’t work for me, too. I blog if I’m going to share something negative, so the entire story gets told. If others are negative, I might use that as a springboard for further discussion with them – and I usually grow as a learner from the conversation. See “It’s Not Perfect” for one instance – http://geniushour.blogspot.com/2015/04/its-not-perfect.html Just my two cents, too – so glad so many teachers are blogging to help others – keep it up!
Thanks for your comment. You highlight an important point. Please don’t get me wrong – I’m completely behind the idea of using Twitter to share risks that didn’t work and things that don’t go to plan. These are totally worth sharing because we can all learn from them and support/encourage one another. If anything, there isn’t enough of this on Twitter! We should be encouraged to share both our failures and successes along the way. It’s all part of learning and growing.
Perhaps negativity wasn’t the correct word. I was thinking more about negativity and complaints regarding difficult children, frustrating parents, seemingly pointless expectations, that kind of thing. I suppose you could argue that these things have a place. As you said, it builds community when people can relate. But still, there’s a correct and incorrect way to express these frustrations. My point about negativity was the incorrect way that’s just venting and complaining in a way that is unhelpful and models poor digital citizenship.
Thanks for raising this point. I hope that my reply makes sense. I’ll check out your links now.
I’m totally with you on the model of poor digital citizenship. It really gets my goat when a teacher rants about a particular business and they could just send a message straight to that business instead. What hurts their reputation more (in my eyes) is when they talk negatively about a student or parent, for sure. Great points to bring up!
I agree with your rules, Adam. Though I do break your logo rule. I do enjoy Twitter and get a lot of benefit from it, but probably not as much as you because I’m not on it as often.
The logo thing isn’t a massive deal. For me, I just appreciate knowing that there’s a real teacher behind it rather than a company. Plus, we have so many interactions on other platforms so I know you and your logo very well! It’s definitely a human connection. Does that make sense? I’m more concerned with people who use Batman logos and things like that. I appreciate seeing a face that I can recognise and relate to.
I totally agree with you on that, Adam. And thank you for your elaboration. Having two twitter accounts, which I use for different purposes – one more for writing and one exclusively for education, using a photo for both would only confuse me, and possibly others. Hence the logo for readilearn – helps to build brand awareness too.
It is wonderful to connect with such an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher in so many ways. For most of my teaching career such connections were impossible. Thank you for being part of the conversations and the solution.
As always, thank you for your engagement with my blog and for the kind words. You are a highly valued part of my PLN and I am very grateful for the connection.
Thank you, Adam. Best wishes, Norah.
As a teacher who is moving into a new role next year as an instructional coach, social media is something I have been thinking about. If and when I do begin to post, these will come in handy, thanks!
I’m pleased that you found this useful. If you do decide to give it a try, I’m sure you’ll find value. There are many teachers on there with similar roles who are constantly sharing and learning together. Let me know if you want some suggestions of who to follow.
You might also like this post about using social media with students. We’re having great success with our class Twitter account! https://mrhillmusings.com/2018/01/28/social-media-in-the-primary-classroom/