Tweeting Your Way to a Better Classroom

Social media can be a great resource for teachers wishing to develop professionally.  I know…social media is only for mindless scrolling and indulgent voyeurism, right? Wrong! Social media platforms can also help spark new ideas and connect you to other educators.  Today I am showcasing Twitter.  I know it sounds like one more thing.  Do we have time for tweets when we have exams to grade and lessons to plan?  Do we really want to add another social media platform to those we already have for personal use? The answer is yes.  What I love about Twitter is that it is quick.  Considering tweets are limited to 140 characters, you can quickly gain information, share information, and then move about your day.  

Using Twitter to Inform Students and Parents

The most obvious use of Twitter would be to share information with your students.  You can post classroom reminders like Nick Gravel or showcase classroom highlights like Erin Bach:

You can share tips and other resources like Greg Borish and I have:

You can remind students about upcoming school events like this tweet from Diana DeLaMaza:

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Using Twitter for PD

You can also join Twitter chats with other professionals!  This is what I really want to talk about.  At first, I was nervous to join a Twitter chat.  What if I did it wrong?  What if I publicly made a fool of myself because I was unsure about how to use this unfamiliar platform?  The first time I tried it out I joined a chat and simply watched.  I didn’t tweet or even make myself known to the group.  This is how I learned…and boy did I learn! The first chat I joined is the #APLangChat.  AP Lang teachers join together for about an hour to discuss a topic.  One person is in charge of leading the group by asking questions.  The questions will be labeled as Q1, Q2, etc.  The hashtag #APLangChat is always used so that all of the tweets are together.  Clicking on the hashtag will keep you in the “thread” when you respond.  Participants respond with their answers and label them A1, A2, A3, etc. Again, the same hashtag is always used and will keep you in the “thread” with the other participants.  Of course, you can respond to what others have tweeted, share links, “like” what they are tweeting, and retweet as you go.   

Here is an example question and answers:

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So at some point I did it.  I just jumped in and introduced myself and began answering questions.  And people responded.  And I made new teacher friends!  We interacted and shared ideas and resources.  We encouraged one another.  Now I regularly join chats and I am so happy I do!

Twitter for Online Collaboration

This online networking led to collaboration with teachers from around the nation.  We follow one another and share ideas and lessons.  If I see one teacher has posted about a lesson, I direct message that teacher and ask for more information.  I email back and forth with teachers I meet on Twitter and we share and brainstorm as well.  These teachers even meet up at conferences…all because of Twitter!  In this tweet, Erin retweets a quote and a picture from a session at a conference she attended.  Retweeting workshop and key note speaker highlights is an activity many teachers participate in when they attend conferences. This particular tweet uses the CATE conference hashtag #CATE2017. 

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How to Begin

My advice is to get on Twitter and begin searching hashtags that are relevant to your content area and interests.  For AP teachers there are chats like #apushchat, #apchem, etc.  But you can also look for #sschat if you teach social studies and #mathchat if you teach math, for example.  There are general education hashtags like #edchat as well.  No matter what you teach, trust me, there is a hashtag for it.  Check out the TeachThought article for a comprehensive list education hashtags by category!  

I would also suggest following professionals relevant to your subject area.  For instance, I follow authors, journalists, newspapers, magazines and publishers since I teach English.  I also follow innovators like @ElonMusk and @BillGates.  For teacher in social studies, you can find out a great deal about the new framework and the shifts in the coming to your content area.  Science teachers can see demonstrations and labs in actions.  Take a look at some of the examples below and then consider: Who would you follow?

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Sharing Our Practice

Sarah Hagan (@mathequalslove), a blogger/math teacher at mathequalslove.blogspot.com, originally started the hashtag project #teach180. Teachers are able to widen their audience to other classroom observers by tweeting a picture and a 140 character tweet of their daily classroom experience.  Hagan shares her favorite #teach180 ideas from the week on her blog, which is also a fabulous resource for math teachers! Read more about #teach180 here or simply search the hashtag!

I would love for all the teachers at Hart to join Twitter and share our own daily practice at Hart High School. I would then share highlights on my own blog.  Let’s keep this in mind as a #goal for the 2017-2018 school year.  You have plenty of time to play with the platform and test it out until then.  Who is with me?  #TeachHart #AliveWithPride #GoHartOrGoHome #StayClassyHart

Happy tweeting!  Don’t forget to follow me at @hartaplang 🙂

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