Twitter can be a great resource–if you know how to use it. Here are 30 tips for teachers who want to learn how to use Twitter to network, teach, and share information:
- Determine your purpose
Before spending any amount of time on Twitter, you should decide what you want to get out of it. Do you want to meet people who share your interests? Do you want to promote something? Do you want to update colleagues in your industry? Knowing what you want to do ahead of time will transform Twitter from a timewaster into something worthwhile.
- Use keywords in your profile
Your profile should include information that is relevant to your purpose. For example, if you are a Spanish Teacher looking to meet other people who teach your subject, you should indicate somewhere in your profile that you are a Spanish teacher. This will help other people find you.
- Add a picture
You can upload any type of picture to your profile, but it is best to post your own photo. People want to see WHO they are following.
- Find people to follow
You can find people to follow by using the Twitter Search and the Profile Search. You can also broaden your network by looking at who follows the people you follow.
- Search Twitter directories
Twitter directories are excellent places to find other Twitter users just like you. Good education directories to try include Just Tweet It and Educators on Twitter.
- Analyze your Twitter network
After you have found people to follow, you can broaden your network further with a special service that analyzes your network and helps you discover new people. A good service to try is Mr. Tweet.
- Don’t play the number game
A lot of people who use Twitter worry about how many people are following them. It can be easy to get caught up in this numbers game, but you should try to avoid it. Followers won’t materialize overnight. Give your Twitter account time to grow and draw interest before becoming too frustrated.
- Connect your cell phone to Twitter
Twitter can be connected to your cell phone so that you can post and receive updates via SMS (text messaging). Twitter doesn’t charge anything to do this–however, your cell carrier will. You might want to make sure you have unlimited texting to avoid a large, unexpected bill.
- Use a URL shortening service
With only 140 characters allowed per Twitter post, there is no room for lengthy URLs. You can shorten URLs for free using one of the many services that have been set up for this purpose. Bit.ly and TinyURL are two good services to try.
- Manage your account through a third-party client
There are several third party clients out there that can help you manage your Twitter account. Some of the most popular include TweetDeck, Twhirl, and TwitterFox.
- Be diverse
It is definitely okay to tweet about yourself and whatever you are promoting but you should also try to take an interest in other people and happenings.
- Create a classroom account
There is no rule saying that you can’t have more than one Twitter account. You can have your own as well as a classroom account specifically for students and parents.
- Use Twitter in the classroom
There are many different ways to use Twitter in the classroom. You can post updates for students and parents. You can also encourage students to collaborate through Twitter while they are in the classroom.
- Create a collaborative story
Many writing teachers have begun using Twitter as a platform for collaborative stories. The teacher starts and then asks each student to continue the story through 140 character tweets.
- Beware of posting too much info
It is acceptable to tweet about your students or things that are happening in your classroom but it may be best to maintain some anonymity–especially when it comes to young students.
- Ask questions
Twitter is a great place to get opinions and ideas from fellow teachers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn as much as you can.
- Answer questions
If you have knowledge to share, by all means share it. You can do this through Twitter or though crowdsourcing services like TweetBrain.
Retweeting valuable info is a great way to share with the community and build your network. Just be sure to give credit where credit is due.
- Feed your blog to Twitter
If you have an edu blog, you can feed your posts to your Twitter account. There are several free services that will help you do this. One of the most popular is Twitterfeed.
- Track links you share on Twitter
You can find out if your followers are clicking through on links by using a tracker like TweetBurner.
- Use direct messages
If the Twitter community will not benefit from conversations, consider using direct messages for 1-to-1 conversations.
- Learn the lingo
A lot of people use shorthand to post Twitter messages. If you come across an abbreviation you don’t know, you can check it in this Twitter Dictionary.
- Be diplomatic
Not everyone in the world will share your beliefs. If you disagree with someone, don’t hesitate to share your own view. Just remember to be diplomatic.
- Don’t flame
Flaming is unprofessional and unwelcome on Twitter. If one of the people you are following posts something you really don’t like, quit following them. It’s a simple as that.
- Don’t post anything you don’t want someone else to see
Watch what you say in your tweets–especially if you use your real name or picture. Never post anything that you wouldn’t want your employer, students, or parents to see.
- Beware of tweeting from school
Some schools have policies that bar teachers from using social media sites while they are at work. Be sure to check your employee handbook before using Twitter on the job.
- Focus on relevant tweets
If you follow a lot of people, it can be difficult sorting through all their tweets. You can find tweets that are relevant to you by using one of the many apps created for this purpose. A good one to try is Tweetizen.
- Build relationships
Try to look beyond the obvious value of Twitter. This social media platform is a great way to build long-term relationships with other educators.
- Communicate with others
Above all, Twitter is a social media tool. Use it to be social and communicate with other people.
- Find more Twitter tips online
There are many different ways for teachers to use Twitter. You can learn more by searching the Internet for additional tips.