I didn't jump into Twitter completely, instead I dipped my toe in....very slowly. But baby step by baby step, I found myself immersed and it has changed by teaching practice by tuning me on to a world of innovation and creativity that was happening in the Twitter-sphere. If you are the me of the past, wondering how the heck Twitter can help you teach, read on...
Slow Wins the Race
Even if you don't want to start out tweeting your 140 character tweets, I recommend starting a Twitter account and following a few educators that you know. This will quickly give you a better sense of how they use the tool and how you can benefit from Twitter before really diving in.
You've Gotta Keep it Separated
I think that Twitter works for me because I only use it professionally, I recommend setting up a Twitter account that is not for personal use but for your professional development. Use your real name and manage your brand as a educator. I think sometimes people worry about personal getting intermingled with work. Solve that problem by having a teacher account that you are comfortable using with fellow educators, administrators, parents and students following,
So, I didn't get the whole hashtag thing at all -- I thought it was a cute way of emphasizing your thoughts. #cuteness. As it turns out, you can use hashtags to search for things on Twitter. So if you write a tweet and hashtag it with #sschat then people looking for Social Studies chat items who search for #sschat will see your post. It's a way of organizing all the world's tweets so that we can find our people -- or in our case, our fellow teachers.
If you are going to try Twitter I highly recommend joining a Twitter chat. There are chats hosted all of the time by different groups. My favorite is #NoVaEdChat on Wednesdays at 8 pm (EDT). By searching the hashtag for the group you can see the questions in advance and then when the chat is occurring you can tweet with people in real time by using the hashtag. Before joining a chat, try just watching one by using the hashtag to get a better sense of what it is like. Chats are a great way to learn about new teaching strategies and technology, and also a way to build your PLN.
What the heck's a PLN?
PLN is Personal Learning Network. These are the people that you look to for ideas and advice about teaching. My PLN isn't huge, I have 100+ Twitter followers and follow another 200+ but I can't tell you how many of my latest ideas have come from this network of educators from across the world. Teaching can feel isolating at times. A PLN can take that isolation away by taking collaborating and sharing to the next level.
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