I heard about Teacher Twitter at a “Beginning Teacher Induction” meeting required by the government of California. The majority of what is covered at these meeting is pointless, but there are a few nuggets of gold sprinkled in just to see if anyone is paying attention.
I am so glad I was listening when someone mentioned the number of teachers on Twitter and the amazing professional learning networks available to teachers through Twitter.
I never really got Twitter before because, I’ll admit it, I didn’t get it. I joined, but only ever followed a few people. I didn’t search for anything and I didn’t know you could search by hashtags.
In my first week I learned the importance of following people you are interested in. I searched for fellow music teachers and followed them! This means that all of their posts now show up in my Twitter feed. And there are a LOT of great teachers posting great content. In fact, I found out about and was inspired to join in celebrating Music in Our Schools Month because of posts I found from people I follow. Sweet!
The second aspect of creating a useful Twitter experience that I have discovered is searching by hashtags and clicking on hashtags. Either action will bring up any tweet with that hashtag. These can be a larger conversation about a broad topic or a specific conversation going on between only a few people. Some of my favorite hashtags I’ve found so far include #elmused, #musiced, #orffposse, #edchat, and #edtech. Those last two hashtags are used by a lot of people and are a rich source for what is currently being thought about in education.
One of the reasons I didn’t try Twitter was because I thought, “How is it any different from my newsfeed on Facebook?” After my first week on Twitter, I get it now! Here’s why Twitter is different from Facebook.
- Conversations. Twitter really is about having a conversation. It is easy to join in the discussion. People have been very welcoming when I started adding my voice!
- Less useless stuff. I think it is easier on Twitter to filter out things you don’t want to hear about. I only follow people who are tweeting relevant things to me. This is unlike Facebook, where if I am friends with someone, I have to go find a special setting to not see their posts. On Twitter, I can just unfollow someone if their Tweets become uninteresting. They can follow me without me following them!
- Not creepy to talk to strangers. On Twitter, I can tweet to anyone I want to, and they can choose to respond or ignore. For example, I have started some great conversations with other music teachers that teach at IB schools to discover how they integrate music into the PYP. On Facebook though, many people block direct messages from people they don’t know. Plus, I feel like talking to strangers on Facebook is creepy, yet somehow on Twitter it isn’t creepy. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I have created a professional learning community on Twitter made up of other teachers who are, by definition, not creepy.
- Twitter has one goal. And that is to get people talking about what matters to them. Facebook has so many different goals that change all the time, it’s hard to keep them straight.
If you’re not on Teacher Twitter, get on it! You can do it!
Look for a follow up post next week for what I will have learned about Twitter in week 2!