I Need my Teachers to Tweet! (redux)

I know I have pushed Twitter before and some of the faculty made an effort to give it a try.  You connected with each other, sent a few tweets, probably got tired of reading my tweets and ultimately, gave up on it. (not all of you)  Today, I am making another plea for you to try it again.  There is so much to be learned by connecting with other educators who have similar interests or teach the same thing you do.  I have connected with hundreds of educators that really have helped me learn a lot about things I would have never considered.  I have changed a lot of what I believe about education by interacting with others, and right from the comfort of my home or office.  I know a lot of you use Facebook to socialize online.  Twitter is different.  It is leaner, faster, and can be filtered to specific content.  I think so many people jump into the Twitter stream and get lost in the current and think it makes no sense, or they are so limited by who they follow that they think there is nothing of value being posted.  I have heard others say they do not have time. It does not take much time at all to find something of value if you know how to look.  I really think we are smarter together than we are when we go it alone.  Think about how much you learn from your colleagues in the building.  You can build a network of teachers online that can literally blow your mind with ideas and resources. They can come to your rescue when you need a quick answer to a technical problem.  Twitter can be used as little as thirty minutes a week and you can still find value.  You can find a specific content area to follow, check in to see the resources that have been posted, use what is valuable, toss the rest.  My favorite way to use Twitter is by opening up the Twitter client called Tweetdeck.  One of the folks I follow on Twitter(Josh Stumpenhorst or @stumpteacher) created this video:

If you want some help finding who to follow check out @cybraryman1 ‘s Building a Professional Learning Network page .  On this page you will fine “tweeters” to follow categorized by teaching area and level.  Very helpful.  He has an entire page of resources for learning about Twitter here.  I realize many of you will say you don’t want to spend the time to build your network on Twitter…but, I agree with George Couros….

I do not think there is an excuse to not try to learn how to make yourself better everyday. Jump in, what do you have to lose? You have a lot to gain. One last way to look at Twitter, if you do not want to take the time to cultivate your own network, is to view the Twitter stream of someone else using The Twitter Times. By clicking that link, you will be able to see the resources posted by the people I follow in a newspaper type format. These resources are not tailored to you. They are the resources I like to look at….you might find them useful. It is my morning newspaper with coffee everday. Enjoy!

39 thoughts on “I Need my Teachers to Tweet! (redux)

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention I Need my Teachers to Tweet! | PCHSdirectorBLOG -- Topsy.com

  2. I will admit that I am still a tentative Twitter user. I am in a class called edm310 at the University of South Alabama and Twitter usage is a required part of the coursework. Although I grudgingly signed up, I am coming to realize how beneficial it is. Still, I prefer using Twitter as a database for interesting resources and articles, because I really do not like to spend much time on it. Anti-twitter fans, it really is a great tool, it all depends on who you follow!

    • Rebeka, Thanks for taking the time to comment. I think if you spend time cultivating your Twitter contacts you will find it an invaluable resource for lots of things in education. I wish I would have had the contacts with people as I entered the teaching profession that are available through social media today. Good luck with your coursework!

  3. After struggling with teachers to get them to see the value of Twitter, I have switched my approach to show them what they can get from Twitter even without creating a Twitter account.

    You can use Twitter without creating an account, if you just want to see the kind of information being shared on Twitter.

    This comes from my class resource page for a graduate class for teachers working on their masters.

    You don’t have to have a Twitter account to benefit from the information shared on Twitter!

    My Twitter name is @cnansen

    You can read Tweets by specific people by going to their Twitter page.
    http://twitter.com/cnansen
    http://twitter.com/elemenous
    http://twitter.com/langwitches

    Take a look at some of the people we follow. You may find some educators or others who Tweet information you may be interested in.

    Also take a look at some of the lists cnansen has put together – simply people who are on Twitter that fall into one of these categories.
    http://twitter.com/cnansen/lists
    http://twitter.com/#!/cnansen/math

    Tweetdeck is one of the best applications (Macintosh or Windows) to monitor your Twitter PLN (Personalized Learning Network). (I plan to check this out – Mac OS X only – Nambu – http://www.nambu.com)

    Hashtags are often used in Twitter so that others can find Tweets pertaining to that topic. The are often “nonsense” words that only that particular group would use. The hashtag for this class is #ed521msu

    There are several ways to find Tweets that use a specific hashtag including http://search.twitter.com and http://tweetchat.com/

    Here is how you can use TweetChat to find our ED521 hashtag #ed521msu
    http://tweetchat.com/room/ed521msu

    Try searching Twitter for hashtags used by educators
    like #edchat, #mathchat, #engchat, #scichat, #sschat, #elemchat, #edtech, and #musedchat

    Spezify – just a more graphic way to display Twitter searches.
    http://www.spezify.com
    Try #edchat, #edtech, #gct, etc. (#gct is not a chat, but is a comon hashtag for Google Certified Teachers)

    List of educational chats on Twitter
    http://www.cybraryman.com/chats.html#gtie

    Twitter and Educational Chats – an article worth reading

    • Craig, Thanks for adding your tips to this post. I will have to give spezify a try. I had forgotten to mention the use of lists in my post. They are the best way, in my opinion, to disaggregate the tweets flowing into Tweetdeck.

    • It is a great video. I must credit Josh Stumpenhorst or @stumpteacher for putting it together. Tweetdeck is the application that has made Twitter useable for me. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Well, you know I love Twitter. The only thing I take exception to is using that list. None of your stellar employees/tweeters are on that list, so you KNOW it has to be flawed!
    😉

  5. I think Twitter is an awesome pd tool, but I also think that teachers learn in so many valuable ways – the important objective is that teachers are life-long learners and they share their knowledge in systematic ways whether the knowledge comes from books, Twitter, research, courses, conferences, experiences. . . It’s great though that you’re introducing and advocating for Twitter as a pd vehicle.

  6. Twitter has saved me this year… knowing that there are other teachers out there who push the envelope like I do, that think the same way I do, I cannot tell you how much courage it has given me to continue to innovate and improve, and not find another career.

    Between blogging with other educators that I have met online, and listening to other educators across the world, I have expanded my horizons outside of books, teachers, and ideas floating around my particular district, I have met people that I otherwise NEVER would, and I now have hope that as others jump on the “Professional Networking” Bandwagon, that we can indeed bring about a Renaissance in education.

  7. Great post. I agree with you but keep in mind, Twitter isn’t for everyone. In my world it has made a big difference. My reading has more than doubled since I started following the right people. I’ve used it in class as a vehicle for “distributive cognition”. Intelligence grows when more people are involved. So in a class I’ll have students work on a common assignment and tweet each other using a predefined hash tag. The distribution via twitter allows for quick and fast updates. However, not all students are up to doing this. Some prefer independent work. I’ve notice though that those that give it a good shot and learn from this new method are my top students. I’m wondering if there is a relationship is between being a leader in the classroom and being able to adapt quickly to new learning methods are.

    Anyway, I’d like to encourage your faculty to keep trying. It took me almost of a full month before I started seeing the real value in Twitter. It was when I started following about 40 “smart” people with similar elearning interest that I saw the value. It was all in the links.

    Good luck.

    • Phil, Thanks for the comment. I agree Twitter will not be for everyone. I do think if more people gave it a full “test drive” they would see the value. It is so much more than typing in “What is Happening.” Finding the right people to follow is the key.

  8. “I need my teachers to Tweet”? What a patronizing thing to say. They are not YOUR teachers. Not children. If any feel a need to Tweet, blog or use any other social media, they will. If not, they may find better things to do with their time or other ways to connect with their colleagues. Get over yourself.

    • Bernard, Thanks for the pushback. They are not my teachers, but I do learn from them everyday. The teachers in the building I administrate do provide the exepriences that are supposed to challenge our students. I think the resources and ideas shared on Twitter can help teachers (and administrators) improve their practice. Something brought you here. I would like my teachers, and the teachers who teach my children, to consider the same things you do. Of course they can choose to reject it.

  9. Great post and I totally agree. I’ve started something this year in my school called “Teachers Teaching Teachers.” Every week we have different teachers sharing their personal best in education. They have gained so much from each other. Now, imagine that same thing happening 24/7 on Twitter. I will be teaching a class after school to my teachers called Building a PLN using Twitter. Good luck.

    • Mike, Thanks for the comment! I have had my teachers share their expertise as part of our staff development. We need to do that more often as a building. I agree that they can do the same thing using Twitter and with the best teachers from across the planet!

    • Dr. Green, Thanks for the comment! You are right, long tweets are hard to retweet. I know some people get frustrated by the retweets but they are invaluable to the network as they allow information to move between big circles of “tweeters”

  10. Sometimes I think the need has to be real for people. I’ve been on twitter a long time, but my job is a singular one in my building and I needed the networking. My sister had never joined twitter until recently when her town threatened to close her child’s school–the parents got very mobilized and used Twitter to tweet out updates from the many meetings that have been going on about the facilities planning. So it became useful for her. She may never network with it other than with parents she already knew for the most part, but she saw how it could be used in a “crisis” to send out information quickly.

    I too have found it invaluable, but I think we all have to come to it for reasons that make sense for us. My two cents worth!

    • Carolyn, Thanks for your comment. You are so right. The reason has to make sense to join the sometimes craziness that is Twitter. I think the first impression twitter makes sometimes is not one that will bring teachers back. It takes a long time to build a network of people that share things that are focused on your particular interests. More times than not (in my humble experience) folks who stick with it long enough to build that network are very pleased with the results.

  11. Hi there.

    I guess this post is as much for the author of the entry as well as the teachers to whom he is speaking. As a high school teacher in Chicago, I have found great success in promoting twitter by gathering the week’s twitter awesomeness (resource links, blogs, etc) and sending it out in an annotated list to my fellow teachers. I begin each list with a statement that says–“there is so much more out there” and “I got all of this from twitter”

    I say we get about 1-2 teachers a week joining twitter. The next step is sustaining their interest and helping them learn how to manage the overwhelmingness of it all.

    My suggestion is to always find the weekly or biweekly chat in one’s content area (for me it is #sschat for Social Studies teachers on Monday night at 7pm eastern) and just lurk there for those nights choosing to follow the people who are saying interesting things or introducing you to new and helpful resources.

    I also teach them about using diigo or evernote to store the awesomeness that you don’t have time to read but would like for later.

    I think the push to join twitter needs to come from the teachers as much if not more than the principal.

    If it is grassroots in nature, the teachers have more control over what it becomes for them as a group and individually. After all, it is a PERSONAL learning network and must serve the needs of each person. (All caps meant for emphasis and not meant aggressively)

    My two cents…

    • Molly, You are so right! If the move to Twitter is organic amongst staff, pushed(gently) by teacher leaders, it is more likely going to become a practice teachers will embrace than if its dictated by the principal. My hope with this post and discussion is that teachers will consider (reconsider) the use of twitter as a resource to inform their practice. Thanks for your help in furthering that discussion. Thanks for the comment!

  12. Well, it was definitely helpful to me that some of your teachers tweet!

    When I asked about Turnitin.com’s GradeMark and PeerMark services the other day, you were quick to respond with the IDs of “your” teachers (don’t want to get any backlash from an ownership issue ;P) who could answer my questions. Within minutes I’d heard reviews from two of the educators at your school and was able to take that information back to my colleagues the next morning.

    Twitter has been an awesome professional tool for me. Maybe one day I’ll be able to get some of the people I work with on board.

    • Jo, The example you site in your comment is the sharing that is so important about our network on twitter. We all have expertise to share. I am sure that there are so many things we can learn from you and your colleagues about how to teach writing. The discussion on Twitter informs and challenges our practice as educators. I am not sure you can get that anywhere else on a regular basis. Thanks so much for your comment!

  13. Forgive me if this reply is lengthy, but I am very passionate about Twitter. Don’t believe me? Maybe knowing this will help you understand my depth of dedication to my personal learning network. For our anniversary last summer, my husband surprised me with custom license plates that say “TWITTER.”

    In the spring of 2008 I was making plans to attend ISTE (a HUGE educational technology conference). In an attempt to not feel so alone at the conference of 15,000 people I joined their social network and began to reach out to others who had similar interests and job titles. I just happened to connect with a teacher in Las Vegas (@mrplough07) who became my mentor. He convinced me to use Twitter and by the end of the summer I was using it frequently, but I still did not truly get it. He kept promising me that eventually my “a-ha” moment would come. Sure enough that fall it happened. In a nutshell, the network administrator at my school was not 100% truthful about why he was so reluctant to not install Firefox on our network. I was told it was “illegal.” When I asked about this on Twitter an educator in Texas (@woscholar) came to my aid. I was able to take the information he shared with me to intelligently defend my reason for wanting Firefox installed on the computers at my school. What should you take from this example? First, find a mentor who can help you make the right connections for you. Second, wait for your a-ha moment. All of us who have stuck with Twitter each have one……eventually.

    Twitter is all about connections. It takes a lot of work to make those connections and find the right people to follow. About a year ago I put a list of people together for my principal and I called it my Instant PLN. It has evolved over time and it has the names of some fantastic people to follow. Obviously, not all of the people whom I find valuable you will find valuable. I recommend you follow everyone on the list then adjust after a few weeks. As you find people to whom you can really relate then reach out to them RT something they tweet or send and @ message to them. Do something to get you noticed so they will follow you back. Don’t ever feel like you have to follow certain people. If someone is not meeting your needs then you have every right to unfollow them. It is YOUR personal learning network and it needs to be populated with people who you are comfortable learning with and who add value. Value is determined by you. I follow some people that I do not necessarily learn from, but they add to my network in other ways so I would never think about unfollowing them.

    I would also like to add that Tweetdeck (or similar app) is absolutely necessary to manage Twitter effectively. It seems overwhelming at first, but after a few weeks of using it you will wonder how you ever used Twitter without it. I fought it for almost two years because it seemed too complicated. The trick is customizing it so you don’t have things popping up and chirping every 5 seconds. That can be so annoying. I have mine set to notify me with a sound alert when I get direct and @ messages. I have columns set up to follow 3 or 4 hashtags. I also have a column for Foursquare and one for Facebook.

    Best of luck. I hope you hang in there until your a-ha moment happens. You will not regret it.

    • Beth, Thank you so much for input. Twitter has done the same for me. The key is making it your personal learning network. That is how it becomes valuable. The people I follow as @phsprincipal may not share the ideas and resources a teacher would find useful. The list Beth has put together has a wide variety of “tweeters” that share lots of good stuff!

  14. Dave: I completely agree with you about Twitter. For people who have never used the tool to connect to others, it must seem like a very frivolous thing. However, I’ve learned and gained so much from the network I’ve created, and Twitter is probably the easiest way to connect to them.

    With that said, however, it has taken time to create the Twitter network I have now. It’s a very worthy time investment, and I made it a priority. In fact, I often tell others that by using Twitter, I actually save myself time.

    Here’s a blog post I wrote last November about Investing the Time – http://avenue4learning.com/2010/11/16/investing-the-time/

    • Michelle, Thanks for adding to the conversation! You are right. It does take time. I have been “on” Twitter for the better part of 3 1/2 years and only in the last year have I found it to be an invaluable resource. That is why I posted this in the first place. Try it again (if you have the inclination) if you found it to be frivolous and meaningless the first time.

  15. My teaching life without Twitter would be: less innovative, less connected, less optimistic, less informed, less inspired.

    In the last 30 minutes on Twitter, Ive read tweets that have given me 2 potentially productive ideas for my next blog and reinforcement for the conversation I will be leading at the Colorado Learning Unconference. http://colearning.wikispaces.com/Home+2011

    Testimonials are powerfully persuasive, but moving beyond the conversation toward action–that’s when we start to see innovation, creativity, and joy in teaching.

    • Judy, Thanks for your comment. What is the discussion Learn to Teach, Teach to Learn going to be about? Wish I could make it to Colorado for that event! Great to connect with you via Twitter!

      • The seed of “Learn to Teach to Learn” sprouted in the NWP concept of Teachers Teaching Teachers. The best way to learn something is to teach it, so, I thought, why not talk about how the actual act of teaching is essesntial to learning how to teach. And if teaching is such an effective learning strategy, why not create environments in our classrooms that foster recursive teaching and learning for everyone.

        Mindfulness of how we teachers learn can only create more innovative and fruitful learning for our students. But we have to learn to teach as learners. The conversation is about how we foster our own learning in order to become better teachers.

  16. I think twitter is amazing, but that discovery only came to me after I started using HootSuite to organize my feeds and keep track of who is mentioning me in their tweets, etc. The Twitter interface alone is not enough to make twitter useful. Twitter without something like TweetDeck or Hootsuite is chaos. Once I was able to organize my feeds and have a Firefox add-on to share any site I come across instantly, twitter became a true resource. If you want your teachers to use twitter you must explain the need for Hootsuite/TweetDeck.

    If on your first plea to get them to use twitter you didn’t include this information, that may be the reason! Hope this helps!

  17. Dave,

    Great post and I could not agree more with the theme of connection. Those people that truly invest in twitter are richly rewarded. I have only been on twitter for a few months now and can not say enough how positive of an experience it has been. http://stumpteacher.blogspot.com/2010/11/twitter-has-changed-my-life.html

    However, like everything in life, you get out what you put in. If you are an active member of the community you will see positive results. Personally, I have connected with people that I would never have even known existed…including you! 🙂 My classroom is now having book clubs and guest speakers with classes around the globe. None of that would have been possible without twitter.

    For those newbies out there check out my video tutorials page on my blog. Might help demystify some of the twitter lingo that can seem overwhelming for a new user. My only advice is to give it time and don’t give up! You can find me on twitter as @stumpteacher

  18. I agree that teachers would benefit from tweeting. However, as a principal myself I know that new technology and innovations can be scary for a lot of teachers. I wonder if you have given them a purpose for tweeting. Perhaps you could set up a specific hashtag for a school goal or initiative that you are trying to implement. Then at your next staff meeting or staff development time you can introduce that hashtag and encourage teachers to text their thoughts throughout the meeting. You could also ask for input on a decision that you are going to make. When you make the decision and state that the input you received made a difference in your decision making process perhaps teachers will begin paying attention. Good luck.

  19. Hi!
    I’m so glad I’m on Twitter or I wouldn’t have stumbled across a link to this great post. 🙂

    I’ve been trying to help my administrators understand the importance of investing in teachers professional development and asking them to designate time for the development of PLNs. I put together a list of how my PLN has benefitted me 5 ways in the past 5 days and posted it on my blog. I’m asking teachers to comment on how they have benefitted from having a PLN in the last 7 days to help me build my case for a meeting later this week.

    I will definitely be sharing your post and the comments with our admin to help strengthen the case. I agree with many of your readers. Twitter isn’t for everyone. It doesn’t have to be Twitter. Teachers can learn how to use the web to support them professionally using a variety of tools and sites. Teachers and Admin just need to feel confident exploring the tools and making decisions about which ones support them and they need to know that it is worth their time and effort. I try to remind them, just because one tool isn’t right, it doesn’t mean that they are all wrong.

    Thanks for this great post and all the great comments!

Leave a Reply