Teachers on Twitter: A classroom resource, 280 characters at a time

  • You’ve been on Twitter: It can seem like an ungodly mess, a random flood of celebrity gossip, political arguments, sports trivia, and millennials and Gen Z posting about everything from their relationships to their curfew to why they love Drake or Taylor Swift.

    So you may still be doubtful about whether Twitter can be a smart tool for teachers. But it’s true, even if it feels like you’re way too busy to dive into social media, with all its chatter and incorrect information.

    Teachers are expert at seeing potential, and Twitter is all about potential. With it, you can:

    • Be Informed!

      Sign up for updates on courses, giveaways, news impacting education and workshops.

    • Connect with a community of similarly-minded teachers;
    • Stay current on education news and research studies;
    • Share details about classroom assignments, quizzes, or field trips;
    • Ask questions of your peers in real-time;
    • Create your own page;
    • Seek out and/or participate in Twitter chats on education topics.

    Doubtful? Do a quick Twitter search for the hashtag #teacher. A recent glance found tweets and links to vocabulary building, 5th grade goals, the controversy over COVID-19 vaccinations in schools, quotes from education webinars, the national teacher shortage, teaching students how to use online encyclopedias, and K-12 project learning. Other busy hashtags were #education, #teachertuesday, #teachertwitter, #teacherproblems, and #edutwitter.

    “We know what you might be thinking. Twitter? Another social media site for me to check? There aren’t enough hours in the day!” sympathizes the education website Scholastic. “Well, we have good news for you. You can spend as much or as little time as you want exploring ideas—wherever and whenever you want. Twitter is a giant professional learning network (PLN) that helps teachers step outside of their classrooms and schools. Together they problem-solve, share, and refine their craft as educators.”

    Dominican University has created “Twitter for Educators,” a self-paced continuing education (CE) course for teachers and administrators, worth two credits. If you’ve resisted diving in to Twitter at random, the course is an efficient way to master this seemingly unruly social media site and turn it into an asset for your work.

    Lisa Johnson Bowers, a veteran teacher and a professional development coordinator at Dominican, teaches the course. Participants will learn how to create a Twitter account and find relevant accounts to follow (as well as developing their own followings), find and/or create a professional learning community, learn ways to use Twitter in the classroom, and use Twitter Chats, among other skills.

    “Educators in the 21st century have a lot to juggle, but when it comes to Twitter, it will make your teaching life easier rather than add to your plate,” writes the blog TeacherLife. It suggests ways that you can find lesson plans and lecture ideas, stay informed on news in the teaching world, follow conferences and workshops, grow your personal network, keep parents and administrators informed, and find inspiration and motivation. After all, “teaching is tough, which is hard for other people to understand, even if they’re friends and family. After you’ve had a rough day on the job, Twitter is a great place to find support, have a laugh, or get a dose of much-needed inspiration from others who know exactly what you’re going through.”

    Maybe you’re already on Twitter, but need some tips on people to follow for a more dynamic use of the app. Here are some top education feeds to follow, everything from the Department of Education (DOE) to individual teachers:

    • U.S. Department of Education@usedgov — The official government Twitter feed, offering everything from webinar links to policy news.
    • Education Week@educationweek— A longtime education magazine, Education Week offers tips, news, and links to articles that inform, educate, and improve the lives of teachers in K-12 classrooms.
    • Education Week Teacher@edweekteacher — News, community information, first-person essays and analysis.
    • We are Teachers —  @weareteachers — A varied, interesting website that offers everything from teacher life to career advice to printables for your classroom.
    • Teacher Toolkit@teachertoolkit — The most popular Twitter education feed in the United Kingdom, it dwells on top teaching trends, new research, classroom tips and wellbeing topics.
    • Edutopia@edutopia — Practical experience and inspiration for educators. Produced by the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
    • Vicki Davis@coolcatteacher — Davis writes the Cool Cat Teacher blog, hosts a 10-minute podcast, and tweets about topics like blended learning, tech topics, education bios and flipped classrooms.
    • Amy Meyer —  @friEdTechnology — Meyer is a Google-certified teacher who makes the most out of Twitter, tweeting about “fun, useful and current professional development.” You’ll start using her tips within minutes.
    • Edublogs@edublogs— A Twitter feed from Edublogs.com, a blogging site that hosts more than five million education blogs. Recent topics include making a school library accessible, distance learning, and Thanksgiving poetry magnets!
    • The Chronicle for Higher Education@chronicle — News and perspective from the largest national publication covering colleges and universities.

    And for a primer on Twitter terms such as RT (retweet), DM (direct message), and others, check out TeachThought’s Cheat Sheet for Twitter. It will whet your appetite to jump in and learn more. When you’re ready to do just that, read more about the Dominican’s online Twitter for Educators course — and register —  here.

    Photo via iStock