Getting Started with Twitter

The first year we focused on technology in our professional development of our faculty, we highlighted web 2.o tools. This year, we've tried to design more opportunities for teachers to build a PLN and learn what will help them grow personally with technology use. Recently, I sent out a Google form survey to my staff to try to determine what they would like to be offered as small sessions after school. I had several teachers say they wanted to know more about twitter.

I started the session showing this video. My favorite line from it is "real life happens between blog posts and emails." That really is what twitter is to me. Take a look:

Many of the teachers I met with had concerns about privacy. Recently, there have been news articles about supposed crimes committed against people that have posted they are leaving home, thereby notifying criminals it would be a good time to rob their home. Personally, I think that is a stretch. The fact is that if someone knew my name they would be able to Google me and find out where I work. Obviously, I would be at that place of work Monday through Friday all day because I am a teacher. I share my thoughts with folks when they ask, but really it's all about personal comfort level. I would rather be transparent and informed than hidden and in the dark. I think everyone has to make a personal choice. I find it a valuable tool in my professional and personal learning journey!

If you choose to venture into the land of twitter, here's how I think it's best to get started:

* Set up your account by chosing a name that is a username that is easy for others to remember. Many people use their first name and last initial, or last name and first initial, just last name or nickname. Try not to use lots of numbers or a really long name, if you can.

* Make sure you set up your bio profile right away or people may not follow you block or may even block you thinking you are an anonymous spammer. Look at bios of others to summarize yourself the best you can.

* Find a twitter mentor, someone who is already embedded in the twitter process who can help include you in discussions and will be able to answer questions if they come up. I didn't have someone like this when I started but I spent a good bit of time stalking (yes, stalking!) on twitter before I joined. Just watching how the interactions were done and the tone of conversations.

* Find like-minded educators to follow. Twitter 4 Teachers is a great resource that has grouped teachers by subject or specialty area. Click on the persons name and that will take you to their twitter page. If you are logged in, all you have to do is click the follow button.

Once you have an account, set up your profile, tweeted a little yourself and have added some tweeps to follow, I've noticed that some people don't go any farther because they think they have nothing to say. What I would say to you is... give it time. The value grows with the time invested and the relationships you develop there. You begin to notice what others are sharing and it shows you what types of things you could be sharing. Spend time responding to others' posts by replying to them. Place the @ symbol plus their twitter name immediately after it and they will be able to see it later if they aren't online at that time by clicking the replies button on their home page. You should do the same everytime you login to see if someone had replied to you.

One of the ladies in my session asked me, "How do you keep up with this?" My simple answer is that I don't. I follow a lot of people and when I check in I don't go back and read every thing that has happened since I was on last. I check my replies and scan through the recent postings and dive in! :) Twitter is the #1 tool that I use for personal and professional development and it is well worth a try. Do you have any twitter tips to share?


Tyler Toone said...

Thanks for an excellent post on getting started with Twitter - we'll share this with the teachers in our school district. Twitter is a fun, easy, powerful tool for the classroom.