Teachers on Twitter
Teachers are very busy workers with tightly packed schedules and plenty of engagement in work outside regular hours (such as for preparing lessons and marking). They have less time for breaks and over 30% spend more than 50 hours a week on teaching activities.
On top of busy schedules, teachers are required to undertake professional development and learning to improve their teaching practices. Professional development can involve substantial time, planning, travel, conference costs, or attending a presentation or workshop.
It’s fair to say that teachers are cruelly generalised, often portrayed as a miserable bunch, constantly striking and always angry about the latest injustice imposed on our education system. To many, 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.
There is a growing trend of teachers using Twitter to connect to a global network of educators to share and solve a wide range of educational problems.
Rather than a one-off professional learning event (such as a conference), Twitter provides a low-cost, easy to access platform. It requires little effort beyond 280 character posts or photos to connect with a range of education professionals, leaders and organisations.
For many teachers, Twitter-based professional learning can be superior to more traditional methods. The reach of communication across the world is broad and teachers can easily select appropriate resources for themselves.
Teachers are learning about the latest and best teaching practices, lesson plans, web resources, and innovative ideas for the classroom. Some even receive invitations to present at conferences or are given lucrative grants. Significant relationships have even been found between teachers’ professional use of Twitter and improved technology abilities.
Twitter provides a modern platform for teachers to share, network, gain emotional support, build professional learning communities and make a contribution to their profession.
Because Twitter-based professional development is self-directed, it can be used to connect to each teacher’s individual needs to fill gaps whenever they appear.
Here is some advice on how to get started, courtesy of Erin Miller @Miss_E_Miller.
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, you will already be feeling the benefits. If you’re not, I hope this blog has convinced you to join; it will be worth it.