Why You Should Encourage Your Teachers to Tweet
While there is no reliable way to measure the number of teachers using twitter, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that this platform is fast becoming an essential resource for teachers of all phases and sectors around the world. A quick search of ‘why teachers should tweet’ returns a number of different testimonials from teachers reporting that the use of twitter for professional purposes ‘changed practices’, ‘renewed enthusiasm’ and even ‘improved wellbeing.’ With so many teachers now using twitter regularly to engage in debate and discussion, to share resources and to access the latest news, events and developments from across the educational world, it would be difficult to deny its potential power. Read our 3 reasons to engage with twitter below…
Teaching can become an isolating business if we let it. We may be blessed with large departments or be based in the smallest of primary schools, either way, we can find ourselves lacking the time or financial resources to get out and about to connect with other professionals. Twitter offers the ability to easily connect with other teachers and educators in a manner that fits around our own professional and personal lives. Once you have an account, you can follow as many or as few teachers as you like. A quick search by subject, or by sector, phase or job title, will bring up suggested colleagues. Alternatively, if you know a teacher already on twitter, have a look at who they follow and ask them to ‘introduce you.’ Once you follow another professional, their tweets will appear on your newsfeed and your posts and retweets will appear on the newsfeed of those you follow. You have the ability to lock your account, which means that all follow requests have to be approved by you first.
Whether it is to develop your subject knowledge or your pedagogical understanding, twitter is populated with teachers and other education experts who are willing to share ideas, strategies, information and advice for free. There are several forums (communities of teachers) who hold regular ‘chats’. For example ‘SLTChat’ takes place every Sunday evening between 8pm and 8.30pm, during which time school leaders can respond to questions and engage in discussion. At secondary level, there are similar forums for most, if not all subjects (such as #MFLTwitterati, #TeamEnglish #HistoryTeacher etx), and Primary has a range of discussion threads such as #PrimaryBookClub #PrimarySTEMChat and #primaryrocks. Whether you engage in the discussion, or simply lurk and watch the conversations unfold, twitter offers the chance to discover other perspectives, different insights and alternative ways of doing things that will, almost certainly, enhance your own practice.
Twitter has provided a platform for a number of individuals and communities who advocate for schools, education and young people. The ability to follow such individuals provides teachers and leaders with the opportunity to forge connections and join networks to the potential benefit of themselves, their school and their students. From sourcing speakers for inset days or arranging visits from consultants or system leaders, twitter provides the platform where individuals and organisations can advertise, but more importantly, others can recommend. There have also been a number of very influential movements that have grown as a result of social media. WomenEd, which supports gender equality in education, grew from a small number of school leaders and advocates, to a community of more than 17,000 followers in two years. Similarly, ResearchEd, a grassroots organisation that seeks to bring together education research and classroom practitioners, went from being a small number of research literate educators in 2013, to a truly global movement within 5 years. These are just two examples of a number of different communities with which you can engage through twitter. Of course, twitter also provides the opportunity for you to engage with your school community by sharing your classroom or school successes and achievements. It can be a valuable tool to communicate key messages to parents and staff and help promote the vision and values of your school.
If you choose to use twitter for your own professional development, or to connect with your wider school community, always make sure you are working within the rules and regulations set out by your school or organisation’s Acceptable Use Policy. By choosing to engage in a public forum, teachers need to conduct themselves with due professionalism and with a care to uphold the values of their employer. Like all forms of social media, twitter can have a darker side. Schools share a commitment to the development of digitally responsible and aware young people. As teachers who engage productively in such media, we have the opportunity to model positive digital citizenship.