During the 2012-13 school year, I finally used the old Twitter account. I had made one in a workshop, and then I never used it. I had a Facebook, several blogs, etc., why did I need a Twitter? Then I was invited to sit through an interview process, and I realized how others were using it to their advantage. It’s been the single best professional development I’ve had in years.
My advice to anyone starting Twitter is as follows:
1. Don’t confuse it with Facebook. Use it to share and seek information, classroom resources, and support.
2. Think about your professional interests. Create lists around those interests. My lists include Madison City Schools, Graphic Design, Creative Writing, Huntsville-Madison, etc.
3. Search and follow people, publications, and organizations. Devote time to this. Your Twitter feed is only as good as the people you follow.
4. Lurk in the shadows for a few days until you feel comfortable with participating in conversations, but then DO participate in conversations. You’ll amass more followers this way, and this is one of the BIG benefits. The hashtags will eventually make sense. Develop a PLN (Personal Learning Network). Find other teachers and professionals who inspire you to learn and to create.
5. Spend 3-5 minutes on Twitter several times a week. I use Twitter most when my husband is driving or when I’d normally reach for a newspaper. You’ll see that you’re seeing news stories on Twitter before you’re seeing them on the news. You’ll see award-winning teachers sharing their classroom resources. You’ll see famous authors interacting with their readers. You’ll see companies–big and small–asking for your feedback and input on their products or giving away trial uses.
6. Eventually, you’ll want to share your own material. Think about the professional image you want to project to the world. Share relevant online resources and your opinions on those resources. Maybe you want to start your own free blog and use social media to lure in your readers.
Why should you do all this? Because the world is doing this… If we don’t teach our students to use social media correctly, we can’t blame them when they’re not.