There's millions of posts on the internet about why teachers should use Twitter and I doubt this one will add anything new to the conversation but next week I am going to try to convince our staff to 'get their tweet on' and sign up to the micro blogging site so I'm using today's #28daysofwriting to clarify my argument.
I first signed up for Twitter in 2009. I created my Twitter handle @Aaannne to reflect the personalized number plates my husband had bought me for my 50th birthday. Unfortunately I spelt my own nickname incorrectly and so spent the next 12 months trying to work out what my username was! As a result Twitter became the least used of my social media accounts and even when MySpace pegged out, leaving a bit of a space in my screen time, I still couldn't really embrace the idea of a 140 character conversation.
It wasn't until I started my Masters in 2010 and began a research project on the use of social media in schools that I returned to Twitter. I retrieved my handle ( still spelt with one too many n's) and immersed myself in Twitterdom for a few weeks to get the gist of it. And what a wonderland of educational information and connection I found there! In the beginning I found people to follow by searching the names of the authors of the articles I was referencing. This proved to be an excellent strategy because immediately I was connected to some of the great educational thinkers of our time; @gcouros,@E_Sheninger, @courosa, @willrich45, @ijukes, @danamhuff, just to mention a few. I was truly inspired by these people. I followed the links they tweeted, read their blogs and, initially, lurked around the Twitter chats they had, like #edchat.
After awhile I got game enough to add some tweets of my own and discovered a whole community of innovators in my own country who are only too glad to compare ideas and offer advice. My latest favourite haunt is #AussieED chat on Sunday nights. Thanks to @MRsalakas I can tune into this after dinner question time and add my opinion to the melting pot of ideas from passionate educators around the world. What better way to invigorate your teaching and keep on top of the latest in everything! I can gamble hundreds of dollars and travel many kms to professional development days in hope of satisfying my quest for learning, or I can sit in my recliner with a glass of wine and mix intellectual conversation with the best. Tough choice!
It takes some time to get the hang of the concise language needed for Twitter. I still refuse to compromise spelling or grammar in my tweets so that increases the need for succinctness. It makes you think carefully about what you really want to say and I've grown to enjoy the challenge of rephrasing to fit the whole idea in.
To get the most out of Twitter I do believe you have to immerse yourself for a bit but once you've built up a good list of people to follow and you've downloaded Tweetdeck to keep your hashtags under control you can back off and just check in when you feel like it. I've found some of my best 'leads' at 3am in the morning when I can't sleep and the Northern Hemisphere is buzzing. Chat threads are easy to follow after the event and if you want to you can get lots of great information without ever making a tweet of your own.
There's something for every teacher on Twitter, you just have to know what you're looking for or be prepared to take on some of the new challenges you find there. It's thanks to @tombarrett for instance that I'm working on my blogging skills this month and writing this post.