Teachers on Twitter: why you should join and how to get started | Teacher Network
I’ve been using Twitter for six months and it’s already one of the best career decisions I’ve made.
For a while, it seemed that my relationship with teaching was going to be short lived (the first rush of excitement and energy was gone and in need of resuscitation). But thanks to some of the inspiring educators on Twitter, I have fallen back in love with teaching.
Earlier this year, a colleague (@historychappy) presented a 10-minute continuing professional development session on how to expand your personal learning network. By the end of the session I was convinced by his ideas, and have since found Twitter to be an excellent way to develop professionally.
Over the past few months, I have learned so much, not only about classroom teaching but also about wider educational debates. Here’s why I think all teachers should join the conversation, and some tips for getting started.
Find and share resources
Whatever resource you are about to make, stop – open Twitter and explore what is already available. Chances are that another teacher will have created something that is perfect for you, and is using strategies you’ve never thought of.
The productivity and generosity of teachers on Twitter is inspiring and I have also become more efficient in creating and sharing resources. Collaborating with online colleagues is an enlightening experience and as teachers we should want all students to learn, not just the ones in front of us.
The blogs of some incredible teachers have taught me far more about my profession, and given me more practical ideas, than my MA in education did. There is some incredibly useful research being carried out in education, but I didn’t encounter any of it until joining Twitter and following groups such as The Learning Scientists (@AceThatTest).
And after a few days of reading blogs on everyday practice, my approach to lessons was re-energised. I’ve taken many useful pointers from Rebecca Foster (@TLPMsF) especially, who blogs weekly about practical ideas for the classroom.
Get a fresh perspective
It’s fair to say that teachers are cruelly generalised. We are often portrayed as a miserable bunch, constantly striking and always angry about the latest injustice imposed on our education system. Even to me, the word “teacher” conjures an image of an exhausted, underpaid and overworked drone, counting down the years until retirement.
But this is not the case. Teachers of all ages and nationalities come together on Twitter and they are excited about the profession, their subjects and the students they teach. I’ve found that if you choose to associate yourself with these types of people, you might well become one.
Embrace new ideas
Looking at teachers’ Twitter accounts will show you that we’re a diverse group and that many reject some of the prescriptive ideas instilled by PGCE training about how to be an outstanding teacher. Some of us have come to feel that much of the advice was just preventing us from being bad teachers, rather than encouraging us to be the unique teachers we wanted to be.
Early in my career, I had a suspicion that I liked didactic teaching. My PGCE experience made me afraid of “teacher talk” but Twitter made me realise that I was not alone and that there are schools built on the principles of didactic teaching. Without Twitter, I would never have read the blogs of their wonderful head teachers reassuring me that I wasn’t meant for the dark ages.
There are so many incredible teachers, each with their own approach that they are happy to share. Twitter has opened my eyes to the fact that there isn’t just one teaching style. I am proud to say that I’ve embraced different ideas and believe my teaching has improved as a result.
Change the conversation
With marking, meetings, parents’ evenings, administrative tasks and exam entries, teachers aren’t left with much time to discuss teaching practices with colleagues. But we want to talk about what works. On Twitter, it’s refreshing to get an outside view, away from the politics and day-to-day conversations of your own school.
How to get tweeting
- First, set up a profile. Most teachers seem to use their real names, but you can make your account private, so that students can’t find you.
- You’ll be asked to select areas of interest: choose education, schools and anything else that takes your fancy.
- Add your interests to the “About You” section, so that people with similar interests can follow you, and you can build mutually beneficial professional relationships.
- Follow everyone to begin with, then narrow it down. Twitter will then recognise the types of people you engage with and refine its recommendations. I’ve learned so much from @MrsSpalding, @FKRitson, @fod3, @mr_englishteach and @shadylady222 about teaching English. For wider educational debates, @DavidDidau and @JamesTheo are always posting interesting thoughts.
- Take part in discussions, read blogs and see what resources are around. Teachers seem to be on Twitter and chatting on weekday evenings, and most subject areas have a specific chat period. For English, @engchatuk sets up a discussion on Monday evenings that anyone can host.
- Use and follow hashtags. As an English teacher, #teamenglish is essential, and you can find hashtags for your subject areas and more here .
- Think before you type and remember your Ps and Qs. Remember that the veil of a screen does not mean people won’t be offended.
- Be a radiator, not a drain. Don’t just take resources, share them too. The lovely education bubble on Twitter can only exist for as long as we keep sharing ideas and resources.
If you’re already a teacher on Twitter, thank you. If you’re not, I hope I’ve convinced you to join. I promise that Twitter will save you more time than it will ever cost you.
Erin Miller tweets @Miss_E_Miller.