Friday, 15 July 2016

Twitter - how to make it work for you.

As you may know, I am a huge fan of Twitter.  I post something almost everyday and invariably it is to do with teaching and learning, although of late, since the EU referendum, I have become quite an angry political tweeter!  Of course, I also post tweets of encouragement and support for my fellow colleagues and I am always grateful when they do the same for me.  Indeed, supportive tweets can help you through those dark days that sometimes get you down.
The reason, therefore, for writing this post is that I now have some colleagues who started to show an interest in Twitter but who clearly need some direction.  They have got as far as signing up and following a few people but they just don't get the point and more worryingly for me, as a staunch supporter of and believer in Twitter I want them to understand how to the make the most of this fabulous resource.
So how should I encourage them to stay on Twitter? What can I tell my colleagues that will help them to see the value in this tool? 
think to start with, you need patience. You need to give Twitter a chance.  Log on, change your avatar and invest a little time in your profile.  Your profile tells others about you, about your interests and what your intentions on Twitter are. Once this is set up then choose a few relevant people to follow.  If using technology in education is your thing then it makes sense to follow these Twitter folk:
1. @ictevangelist 
2. @eduwells
3. @lancslassrach
If it's pure education that you are after then consider these Tweeters
1. @TeacherToolkit
2. @shaun_allison
3. @johntomsett 
Follow many more too as these few will not be enough to fill your timeline with interesting and relevant tweets.  For more ideas see the list of 101 tweeters to follow created by @TeacherToolkit. There are also links there to posts on how to get started with Twitter.
I think at this juncture it is important to highlight that tweeters may also tweet items that do not interest you. This does not mean that you should stop following.  Key to getting the most out of Twitter is to persevere.  The more you stick with it the more you will get out of it. Educational Tweeters often post links to interesting articles in the press or to their own blogposts which highlight what they have been doing in the classroom. You may not find all the posts of value and you may find that you only skim read some but it is normally possible to pick up some good ideas for use in your own work situation. 
You do not always have to read blogposts to get ideas. Indeed, you can start interacting with others. Here's a simple guide:
1. like a tweet that you might want to go back to
2. retweet something you agree with and think others should read
3. quote a tweet that might spark a conversation with others
4. reply to something that interests you and engage with others
Once you start engaging in this way you will find that you will start following more people and in turn you will build your own followers. You will have a community of fellow, like-minded educational professionals who you can turn to for advice.  If you are looking for advice, a resource or an idea then tweet out your question and see what response you get. Often these responses lead you to find more useful contacts and often lead to new real-life connections.  Of course, on occasion you might not get a response, but most times you will. Indeed, a response is more likely if you include a hashtag. For example, the #mfltwitterati has been incredibly useful to me as an MFL teacher and I also find #CPD helpful too. 
Twitter requires patience and an open-mind.  Do not brush it off as useless if you have not given it a fair chance. Twitter has heightened my awareness of what others are doing in their classrooms which has certainly impacted positively on what I do in mine. It has lead me to my MA (now completed) and it has introduced me to like-minded colleagues - some of whom now work with me helping me develop a team that has similar values and visions for the team. Thank you Twitter.