Why teachers should tweet

Mark Anderson

Mark is an in-demand keynote speaker, former Assistant Headteacher and author of the best-selling 'Perfect ICT Every Lesson' who believes in creativity and innovation in the classroom to empower learners. He is now an independent education consultant/trainer and Independent Thinking Associate. He is also a popular award-winning blogger who has led on some of the earliest and largest 1:1 iPad rollouts in schools in the UK. He is a Pedagoo admin, Google Certified Teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator and Microsoft Certified Educator.

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As discussed in Cazzypot’s article on teacher-blogging from earlier this year, teachers are often very active in their communities. Twitter plays a huge part in this; here, Mark ‘@ICTEvangelist’ Anderson explains why he considers tweeting to be a crucial part of being a modern teacher.

That’s right - I’m that teacher in your staffroom talking about people, not by their first names, but by their Twitter handles. Have you seen @headguruteacher’s latest blog post on assessment? Yes, I simply loved his Pedagogy postcards. Such a brilliant collection of advice from him. What? That post about Christmas term and how you can make it to the end of term whilst still capturing the magic of Christmas…? So positive and full of great advice - let’s make it so we get the best out of all our community in the run up to Christmas. How can we do that?

Twitter, whether you like it or not, whether you think it’s worthwhile or not, is a hotbed of some of the most innovative, interesting, current, supportive and brilliant practice when it comes to teaching and learning. Looking for ideas on a certain topic? Get on there and as your PLN (professional learning network) develops, you’ll find that the teachers on Twitter will help you.

"I would not be in the position I am now in my career if it hadn’t been for the support and opportunities that I have been able to take up based upon my connections with others on Twitter."

I was delivering a session on innovative wall displays a few months ago, so I thought I would ask Twitter if they would like to share some of their wall displays. I had literally hundreds of replies from teachers all over the world. I was blown away with the amount of creativity and willingness to share that I saw. Reflecting upon this and other times where my personal learning network (PLN) have helped me out, caused me to reflect upon why Twitter is such a very good place for professional learning. It leads me to think about why teachers have such a great community on Twitter, and what it is to be a teacher. The thing about it is, you know what your staffroom is like… It’ll be full of all of the different kinds of teacher. There will be those looking to share their practice, share their wins and their failings, those willing to open themselves up to help and support others (some not so much) - Twitter is just like that, and it’s for that reason that people often call Twitter the best staffroom in the world.

So why is it that I think you should tweet too? Well, with me, you’re already preaching to the choir in many ways. I can categorically say, with my hand on my heart, that I would not be in the position I am now in my career if it hadn’t been for the support and opportunities that I have been able to take up based upon my connections with others on Twitter. It is simply an amazing community of teachers who share freely and give so much. It’s because that with teachers being the type of people they are - people with such humility and humanity that so many of them do what they do and share like they do whilst using Twitter. It brings us all together. And to prove my point, I thought what better way to do that than by asking Twitter the same question I asked at the beginning of this article, "why should teachers tweet?” Here's just a few of the responses I got back within an hour of asking the original question…

@musicmind: “It's simply the best place to share and learn in the digiverse - people are so helpful!”

@MrBenWard: “To connect, share and network - it's a great way to keep up to date; challenge orthodoxies; see what's happening in other schools; share ideas and experience; and to connect with other professionals, experts and academics around the world”

@pjcann: “To connect beyond their 4 walls and prevent isolation and introversion, leading to learning for the benefit of their students. It is empowering and subverts (in a good way) 'top down' pedagogical structures.”

@Pekabelo: “It provides a wonderful opportunity to network with great educational thinkers, main scale practitioners, like-minded teachers and those with contrasting views. It's great for stealing amazing ideas and to share if you're up for it! You cannot afford to not be on Twitter.”

@teacherstaples: “You can have questions answered immediately by experts, you can share ideas and get new ones, you get directed to more useful blogs than you will ever have time to read, you can learn from others and help others learn. What's not to love?”

@drvcourt: “I've learned more in one month on twitter than my past 9 years of teaching”

@rpd1972: “Because it links us to amazing teachers all around the world who are happy to share ideas, resources, expertise and support. I've learned more from twitter colleagues than I ever have via traditional CPD. It's also instant and 24/7!”

@CiarnaC: “It offers a chance to connect with others who are enthusiastic about their job & willing to share ideas & good practice. It offers the best CPD for any teacher at this time of cost cutting & lack of PD opportunities.”

@missedutton: “It gives you quick access to ideas, information, competitions and resources. It helps you easily connect with other educators and industry experts (we've had visits from incredible people because of Twitter). It allows you to share your resources with others. It helps you feel connected and supported by the wider educational community.”

@jobaker9: “It connects you with like-minded individuals, puts you in touch with more radiators! School can be a very inward looking places, and twitter is very accepting, nurturing and offers many more ways of doing things. It broadens horizons, inspires new ideas and provides an excellent platform to share. Supportive too - esp when you really need it.”

@QESueMunroe: “As an older teacher I'm trying hard to keep up with new ways of engaging students. Students in my subjects benefit from knowing up to date facts, examples, issues etc. I'm finding students get more into the subjects too.”

@MissKMcD: “It connects you to like minded, enthusiastic teachers not just in your local area but on a global scale. Quite simply, it is the most valuable professional development tool that continues to give and share each and every day.”

@1johngillard: “It's a brilliant way to share, find and test new ideas. Find out what people are doing in other schools and how it could help you. It's like the biggest staff room in the world!”

@pipkinzoo: “Where else can you discuss burning issues, and more general stuff, with people completely outside your immediate circles?”

@garrystevens1: “For Physical Education ideas and ICT ideas that are given freely. Also world wide info with academic studies to use and reference.”

@brightonteacher: “To be able to engage in dialogue about teaching and learning beyond the confines of one school's approach, culture and habits.”

@TeacherToolkit: “I tweet to ensure myself and my school stay connected. It's dangerous to become insular, so Twitter - when used professionally - allows one to share and receive instant feedback; far quicker than any work email!”

@urban_teacher: “A tweet can convey an idea; you can also crowdsource tweets to form an idea, trend, or opinion / perspective on a topic.”

@Benneypenyrheol: “To put your thoughts and ideas out there for people to share and for people to challenge so you can refine your thinking.”

@LCN_humanities: “As an NQT it is great to share experiences with fellow NQTs! It's great to celebrate the highs and support each other through the lows as well as giving each other teaching ideas!”

@myversewillbe: “Quick, relevant, up to date and easy, which then gives me the time to reflect.”

@bellaale: “Staying current, sharing ideas with fellow educators all over the world... and fun, laughter and mutual support along the way”

@EddieKayshun: “To connect with other teachers. To learn about what is happening in other places. To build confidence about own practice. To be yourself”

So… Why should teachers Tweet? I think you might have your answer. If you’d like to follow me on Twitter and say hi, I’ll be sure to introduce you to some amazing practitioners whom I am positive will have similar interests and backgrounds to you. You might do worse than following some of the amazing people who took the time to reply above!

See you in the Twittersphere!

Do you use Twitter often? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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