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BTW was created by Patrick & Julie Johnson, two Canadian educators with an interest in eduction & technology. This site showcases our interactive IBOOKS for students, but we also explore educational issues in our INQUIRY segments and share lessons/teaching ideas in our TEACHING TOOLS sections. Use the Labels section in the sidebar to navigate by topic or simply browse.

Monday, June 15, 2015

INQUIRY: Why Should Teachers Be On Twitter? How Should They Use It?

I joined Twitter in 2010 so it's been 5 years now of Twitter fandom but I didn't start out that way. At first, I didn't 'get' what Twitter was all about. I was a skeptic.

I have a blog post from my writer's blog back in 2010 wherein I complain that roaming through other people's tweets was "worse than microfiche." (For you young ones out there, THIS is the headache inducing, mind numbing machine known as microfiche. May you never have to experience the horror of spooling through endless rolls of microfiche film at the library...)

Anyway, I didn't get it at first. I didn't know who I should follow or why I should or how to get to the good stuff. What was the point?

It took some time, I'll admit, but I still remember the TWO amazing moments when Twitter finally started to work its magic for me.

1. When a fellow writer on twitter visited my writing blog and actually left a comment!
2. When a teacher sent out a tweet on his use of Mario Kart Wii in math for mean, median and mode.


I'm not kidding. MIND. BLOWN.

First, I had connected with another person (who, incidentally, lived in Australia!) on a topic of mutual interest (writing).

Second, I had connected with another person (who, incidentally, lived in Scotland!) on a topic of mutual interest (education) AND I discovered a realm of educational instruction I NEVER KNEW EXISTED! Namely, game based learning, bringing conventional video games into the classroom in meaningful ways.

I had reached someone with my writing AND someone else had reached me...and we all lived across the world from one another!


I've been a proponent of Twitter ever since.

Here are FOUR BIG REASONS why teachers should be on Twitter

1. You will be inspired by others on a regular basis.
Teachers blog about the cool stuff their doing. You will be inspired. You will want to try new things. This will invigorate your own practice.

2. You can inspire others.
Share what you are doing. I can't count the number of times I've told co workers. 'What you are doing is so cool! You should put this on a blog and share it on Twitter! I know others would find it cool too.' It feels good to contribute, and it is affirming to know that others find your info useful and valuable.

3. Reflective Practice
Part of the sharing between educators isn't just on lesson ideas or cool media/tech stuff etc. A lot of the times teachers are asking questions (like this one from the other day from Brian Aspinall that really resonated with me: A Student Asked Me 'How Can You Assess My Creativity' and I Didn't Know How to Respond) And you will realize, hey, I wondered that too! And in the blog comments section you can be part of a dialogue about trying to come to terms with this situation, hashing out solutions).

4. Getting to Know People/People Getting to Know You
I've had conversations with other teachers about non-educational stuff: weather, hobbies, recipes, music, shows, travel, my writing life, among other things. You don't have to be locked into your teacher identity...most teachers on twitter aren't. It gives you the chance to get to know them...and you might even meet them one day (as I once did, at a social media event) and it will be a very cool experience and you will find that you have more to talk about than simply teaching.

Okay, now that you've decided Twitter is the place to be: how should you use it?

1. Make sure you have a profile picture AND a bio.
This is so others can understand your purpose for being on Twitter, to see if you align with their purpose for being there and would thus be a good person to connect with, or follow.

2. Include a link.
This could be your class blog site or an about me page or something else online. This is another way for people to understand your purpose for being on Twitter and to get a sense of who you are, and if your interests align.

3. Find some cool follows.
Here are a few of my favourite teachers on Twitter: @MzMolly @dougpete @cybraryman1 @derekrobertson @dogtrax @aviva1oca @willrich45 @shellterrell @courosa (This list goes on and on and on. But it would be a good place to start.)

You might also want to check out #edchat on Tuesday nights. (Follow the #edchat hashtag to see the conversation happening, use the #edchat hashtag to be included in the conversation).

4. Spend time, but not a lot of time.
To really get the benefit of Twitter, you do have to spend a bit of time on it, checking out tweets and links and blog posts. But you don't have to do a lot or do it for hours (though you may be tempted! Twitter can get addicting!). Just hop on for a bit, check out what people are doing. I go on Twitter daily, to both post and read, but not for very long.

5. Be generous.  Be Polite. 
Retweet the cool stuff. Reply to tweets that you are think are cool. Connect. Respond. Favourite. Also, give credit where it is due. If you are quoting or linking to someone, use their twitter handle.

6. Be Aware
As with all social media, it is important to be aware of who you are engaging with. That being said, I have never never never had a negative experience with a fellow educator. Ever. The atmosphere is collegial, respectful, encouraging. And I add to that by acting similarly.

I'm sure there is more that could be said on this but I'll stop there. (I do have a tendency to gush on this topic).


  1. Being a new teacher to Twitter, I really appreciate your post. Twitter can be overwhelming so I'll take your advice and spend a little time each day. Who knows where it will lead me!

  2. Your welcome! I'm glad you found this useful!