1. Sign up for Twitter. It’s free and simple. You have to choose a username; mine is @harlenwrites. You can use @yourname or @alias. Just remember we’re teachers and we have to be especially responsible with our social media identities, so something like @hot4teachrr or @ilovecoorslight aren’t your best choices. Just sayin’.
2. Follow and read, don’t post—yet. It took me a year to feel comfortable enough to send a tweet. A Twitter-savvy friend told me she uses it for news, sports and pop culture but didn’t send tweets. That was a safe place for me to start, so I followed some of the people she followed and didn’t do much but read. I encourage you to do the same. Find out what people are saying, how they are saying it and become familiar with the lingo. Here are the basics:
- Rt = retweet (You like what someone said, so you want to send it out to those who follow you, too.)
- # = hashtag (a way of indexing conversation topics. More on that in #3.)
- Favorite = press the star to say you really like what this person has to say and you want to remember it. It’s like a virtual thumb’s up. Your Twitter account has a special area for your favorites, so you easily can find it later. If you really, really like it, retweet and mark it as a favorite.
3. Hashtags are #awesome and #important. Hashtags serve different purposes. One purpose is to give your tweets an audience. For example, if you are tweeting about a lesson, you could use #edchat or #edtech, depending on the type of lesson. People who search for this hashtag will read your tweet.
Another purpose of a hashtag is to give you something to search. For example, I search for #engchat when I want to see what’s going on with English teachers. There are tons of hashtags dealing with education. These are websites I reference frequently when I’m tweeting:
Hashtags also allow you to participate in Twitter chats. I’ll have more on that in Twitter For Teachers: Part 2, but in the meantime, you can check this out for more information: Utilizing Twitter Chats for Professional Development.
If you are ready to launch into the Twitterverse and want more info, you can simply search “twitter for teachers” or try these websites:
Finally, here’s a great graphic with 11 tips for using Twitter effectively.
If you still aren’t totally sold on a personal Twitter account, a fabulous option is Tweet Chat. You can type in a hashtag and see what people are talking about without having to sign up.
Twitter For Teachers Part 2 will cover chats and lists.
Be sure to follow me @harlenwrites. Hope to retweet and favorite your great ideas soon!