I first joined Twitter in 2013 mainly as a support for teaching in remote communities. It connected me to educators around Australia and allowed me to access professional learning in my specialist areas. It also helped me to reinvigorate my classroom practice as I regularly engaged in conversations and made strong connections.
Building a Twitter network takes time, and patience. It is a good idea to have a clear goal that you want to achieve out of the network otherwise it can seem like an overload of options and information, which may make it all seem insurmountable. My goal was to make connections about curriculum; now it is about supporting a network of educators.
Take time to think about what image you want to portray on your profile. Just like other social media platforms, your Twitter profile is searchable, although you can make it private but this is not common as it limits your connectivity to other people. Think about what you will be using Twitter for and what information you will be sharing. If you want to be anonymous then you need to consider your role and photo carefully. You also need to make sure that what you post cannot be linked back to you.
If you want to make real connections for valued professional learning then you should to make a public profile that represents you in real life, including your employment position. It is common for people who choose this avenue to explicitly say that their profile does not reflect the opinions of their employer. Check out some of the profiles below to help guide you in what to say in yours.
One of the best things I could have done for my professional learning was to connect with Tweeps (people on Twitter) in Australian education. Even though it can take a while before you are included in the conversations, keep posting comments and tagging people as it will keep your profile in the loop.
Don’t be put off if you follow an account and they don’t reciprocate because just like face-to-face relationships, Twitter connections take ongoing commitment and engagement. Below is an alphabetised list of active profiles that you can connect with and begin to delve into those meaty professional conversations:
- @aliceleung Educator, Passionate about learning
- @BiancaH80 Head Teacher of Teaching & Learning
- @corisel Principal of a school for students with emotional disorders, working closely with mainstream schools for successful inclusion.
- @EduTweetOz A rotating curation account with Australian educators as hosts sharing ideas, experiences & questions about education
- @greg_ashman Teacher. PhD Candidate. Blogger.
- @grubbypandas I am a teacher, and programmer with big ideas in EdTech.
- @GruntledChalkie Teacher, Alpaca Breeder, Tragic Soccer Dad.
- @johnqgoh DoE Principal/Fairfield PPA President
- @MRSalakas Founder #aussieED, Primary Teacher 1:1 Educator, Google Certified Innovator
- @thingsbehindthesun Director of Teaching and Learning @PrinceAlfredSA
- @ Leader of Gifted & Innovation K-6 #aussieED @makerEDau
A mistake many new teachers make when joining Twitter is isolating their profile to uploading their own content, or just trying to wriggle into relationships that have sometimes been developed over many years. An excellent and welcoming place to start building your profile and make new connections is through Twitter chats. These chats happen in two ways.
1. Hashtags and handles
A hashtag for example #edchat, directs the audience to a specific string of conversation. These tags can be used in your posts to join a conversation or to link your audience to the topic. The most used tags are:
#aussieEd #edchat #education #EduTech #ozedu #pstchat
A handle is a nickname for someone’s profile, for example @OZEDBlogs is my handle on Twitter and Raegina Taylor is my name on Twitter (and in life). Attaching a handle to your tweet will tag a person’s profile. These handles are helpful when you want someone to respond to your post, if you have quoted them, or if you want them to share your post. If you want someone to share your post ask by writing ‘pls RT’ which means, ‘please retweet’.
2. Chat parties
Woohoo, break out the champagne we’re having a party!!!
In the Twitter-sphere people get together on a regular basis to have a chat party. These get togethers (usually best enjoyed with a cup of tea and warm slippers) are a way to engage with people about a shared topic of interest. To join the party, all you have to do is be online at the time of the event and use the tag. It is also a good idea to follow the host of the party so that you don’t miss the topics or questions.
There are Australian education chats that happen regularly:
- Saturdays 10am AEST #satchat
- Sundays 8.30pm AEST #aussieEd
- Mondays 7.30pm AEST #pstchat
An up-to-date list of chats and tags can be found at Australian based Twitter hashtag chat times.
There’s nothing worse in a relationship than someone who selfishly takes everything from you without any recompense. IT is a similar story with your Twitter network. You are already giving back to some degree by participating in chat parties and posting those awesome links you find to articles and photos you have taken of your classroom. But in order to develop your engagement you need to share other people’s stories. One way is to respond to their questions or threads, and another way is to share or retweet (RT) their content.
By sharing their content you are showing that you are interested in their nugget of gold, their work and their efforts to build a dynamic social community.
Just like other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram (Aussie teachers to start following on Instagram) and Flickr, Twitter is about content and engagement. I took a hiatus from my education account for a year due to maternity leave, and the influencers in the community have now changed! Twitter is dynamic, engaging and remains a steady platform for developing an online professional-learning network.
Updated 24 February 2017