We’ve been helping teachers, friends and colleagues use Twitter for some years now. Twitter is an incredibly valuable resource for Teachers
Twitter is valuable, but we’ve seen that it’s not always easy to get started. This is no surprise. Each year around 250 billion Tweets are sent. There are 350,000 tweets sent every hour. It’s easy to get completely overloaded.
To show the scale (and power) of Twitter, have a look at this visualization: OneMillionTweetMap.com logs all tweets over a 24 hour period. Click on the map to open up a live version:
To help you get started, or get more out of Twitter, we’ve created this guide. If it’s not (yet) the ultimate guide to Twitter for teachers, let us know. There’s a link below, or you can tweet us to suggest content to add.
(Dr Emma Kell, Teacher, Doctor of Education, SLE, author of How to Survive in Teaching)
Download your free guide to using Twitter as a teacher
Teachers have asked us to make a version of this webpage so that you can present the main content in CPD meetings at school. So we made a file for you. Just click to download your free copy:
CREATE A TWITTER ACCOUNT.
If you’ve already got a Twitter account, you might want to jump down to the next section. If not, let’s get started:
Create a Twitter account
Visit Twitter.com and Sign Up
Choose a Name. This is the main description people will see when they look at your Twitter profile. You can choose up to 50 characters (though only about 30 will be visible on a mobile screen). You can change this Name any time you want.
Add your Phone number or email address. (If you’re visiting Searchality.com it’s possible that you are an International School teacher. We’d therefore probably recommend that you use a permanent personal email address, and not a ‘foreign’ phone number or a transient school address).
Create your Username
Next you choose a Username. This is limited to 15 characters only and must be unique.
This is the @name that people will use to refer to you on Twitter. (We’re @Searchality) Again, you can change your @username anytime you like, but it may cause some confusion. Try in advance to give yourself a @name that can last a while
You can have as many Twitter accounts as you like as long as you use a different email address for each of them. (However, most email providers – e.g. Gmail, Outlook – allow you to use an “alias”. So for Twitter myname+work@emailprovider is a different address to myname+personal@emailprovider, but you will still receive the mail in your inbox. (Test it for yourself).
Why you might want more than one Twitter account:
It’s quite possible that as a teacher you have 3 possible identities
@ Your professional account that represents you and your subject as a teacher.
@ Your role in the school. (@SchoolXHead)
@ Your personal account – to separate interests from professional vs personal.
Having said that, with more than 300 million Twitter @users in the world, it can be hard to find a unique Twitter name, made of only 15 characters.
When you do find something unique, have a quick check on Twitter that there isn’t someone with a dangerously similar name, separated by just a _ or other tiny detail. (You don’t want to be forever getting their messages). Go to the Search box on Twitter and type in TheNameYouChose to check that name is OK. The autocomplete from Twitter might show similar names. For example, go to the Search bar and type teachhistory. You will see at least 10 accounts with variations of that. Just check you’re happy with the variations. I would also strongly advise that you click through to look at the profile of the most similar. Most accounts on Twitter are 100% OK, but just occasionally you can stumble across accounts that you really don’t want anything to do with!
DISCOVER Twitter for Teachers CONTENT.
How to use #Hashtags
Where @Usernames identify specific people, #Hashtags identify a topic. This is where some of the great learning potential comes for Teachers using Twitter: Hashtags are a powerful way to connect to others talking about the same topic.
You will find specific hashtags related to your subject area, your year group, and your location. Since we don’t know what those are for you, we’re going to get you started with our Top 10. (We’re currently running some long-term analysis to work out which of these are of most general interest. We’ll update this page when that study is complete).
Note that Hashtags are not Case Sensitive. However, adding capitals can make some easier to read (e.g. #AsiaEd).
#edchat, #educhat, #edutwitter
#teaching, #teacher, #classroom
#edchatMENA, #aussieED, #edchatEU, #InternationalSchoolRecruitment, #internationalschools, #teachingabroad
Because this page is a guide for people new to Twitter for Teaching, including new teachers, there’s:
The teacher community is extremely helpful and supportive. There’s more on making the most of this below.
Some specific hashtags that reflect this are:
#PLN – a call out to your own (or for others’) Personal Learning Network
#FFed – Friday Followback education: You @name a teacher you Follow in your tweet on Friday and they Follow you back.
#CPD – Continuing Professional Development, via Twitter
When you open the link above, you’ll notice that, to combine multiple hashtags in the Search box, put OR between each one.
(When you have more specific ways you want to search – for people, dates, inclusions, exclusions, and places – use Twitter’s Advanced Search, but also read on to learn about Tweetdeck as that takes a lot of the hard work away!)
You’ll have noticed that some of the hashtags above contain ‘chat’. In reality all of these likely started as live chats.
At a certain time, the hashtag creator posts a series of questions (e.g. Q1, Q2, Q3) and the Twitter audience Reply and give their answers (referencing Q1 etc.. and the same hashtag).
Many of these hashtags do continue in this way, but given the nature of Twitter – taking and expanding good ideas – plus the truly international nature of readers of this article – the chats might not be live at the time you’re able to get to them so they have also become more general ways to connect educators.
If you spot a Chat though, get involved. Tweetdeck (below) will help you with this.
(If you’d like to see the history of one of these Live Chats, here’s a 2012 article explaining how #EdChat all started).
MANAGE YOUR CONTENT.
The problem you rapidly uncover using Twitter is that there is so much potentially valuable content, that it’s really hard to stay on top of things.
Once you have created an account and are logged in on this device, open up Tweetdeck. It does work on Mobile, but is much better on a wide screen.
Now you’re ready to dive in and sort out your information.
On the left of the screen click on +Add Column. (Do what I did to begin, add all of them: it’s the fastest way to see what they show. You can Remove any you don’t need later).
Create custom Searches
I think the real power of Tweetdeck is when you choose to add Search columns.
Let’s say you want to find all Tweets that use the Hashtags #edchat OR #teacherlife, but only for people near you (you’re living in Bangkok for the sake of this exercise, a popular destination for international school teachers). Each day there might be 100s of tweets on the topic, but you want Tweetdeck to do some work for you in finding the interesting ones. Well, you can crowdsource the answers.
Use the “Engagement” filters to discover tweets that people have already responded to. You can prioritise seeing, for example, only posts that have already been ReTweeted (i.e. shared on again) by 10 people, received at least 10 likes, or received at least 5 replies. This way you can start your Twitter session looking at the top news that you care about.
There’s no limit to how many search columns you have so you can replicate this for different locations, no filters, more search terms (i.e. not only hashtags) etc.
As mentioned above, when you want to actively participate in a Live Chat, setting up a Search in Tweetdeck with just that hashtag will help you stay on top of the discussion as it happens.
Twitter is amazing. The amount of ideas, thoughts, and content being produced worldwide every second is astonishing.
But sometimes, on some topics, the ‘conversation’ gets out of control.
Use Twitter’s Advanced Muting options to mute Tweets that contain particular words, phrases, usernames, emojis, or hashtags.
This option can be great to silence topics that aren’t relevant to, for example, your school professional account. You might love the latest debates on politics in your personal life, but at work you might be more Rosenshine than Re-election.
To mute relevant items, see Twitter’s step-by-step instructions here.
(Of all the tips I’ve shared with people about Twitter, this muting option is the one that’s least known and most popular! Share it with your friends and colleagues!)
JOIN THE CONVERSATION.
Share your thoughts
As soon as you have an account created, you can send your first tweet!
In case it’s useful, we’ve drafted one for you. (It also includes a shortlink – bit.ly/EduTwitterGuide – to this page to help spread the word.) We’ve included three very valuable hashtags to help you get noticed. If you already have subject-specific ones in mind, add those in. We’ve left space for you to explain what Subject you teach and Where. (Make sure you edit those before finalizing!)
Retweet & Like
If you think someone says something relevant, interesting, thought-provoking, or funny, show your appreciation: click on the relevant buttons under each tweet to Retweet or Like.
You will very quickly get an idea of who shares the most useful content for you. Yes, you will spot them if they keep using some of the hashtags you are tracking. However, an even better way is to “Follow” them. If you’d like to follow us, either click on @Searchality or use the button below:
We talked above about having multiple Twitter identities. A related discussion, on Twitter: What do you do if a student you teach follows your Twitter account?
One very important safeguarding point to mention here: by default, person1 can only send private “Direct” messages to person2 if person2 ‘follows’ them.
Therefore if a student does ‘follow’ you, it is not advisable to follow them back. If you don’t follow them, then there is no easy way there could be any hidden Direct Messages between you. (This isn’t the full story: to be safe, do read the full Twitter Direct Message FAQs)
Stay safe, sane, and sensible
Generally people on Twitter are encouraging, enthusiastic and supportive, especially in the #Teacher community. Despite the bad press that Twitter receives, most content is valuable.
Use, share, and credit others when their work has helped you. There are some bad types out there, who take the credit for others’ work, but generally not in the Twitter for teachers world. Generally someone is always looking out for the rest of the community!
In case you’ve found this guide helpful, we’d love you to share it with others. A shortlink back to this page is bit.ly/EduTwitterGuide. Just click below to open a Tweet sharing box (and edit as you like):
MAKE A LIST.
Lists help curate your favorites
Lists are another powerful feature of Twitter. They allow you to group together people (whether you Follow them or not) so that you can see a filtered list of tweets only from them. Click here to see detailed instructions on creating a list.
Lists can be Private (seen only by you), or Public.
There are two reasons to choose Private not Public
- When you add @people to a Private list they do not know you have added them. (Maybe you want to follow what someone is tweeting about but don’t want them to know. I can’t immediately think why you would need this, but you may be more mysterious!)
- When you have a Private list, other people cannot see anything about it (its name, or who is on it).
When a user creates a Public list, everyone can see it.
Finding and Subscribing to Existing Lists
As a demonstration, visit the International Baccalaureate organization on Twitter here: @iborganization
Click on the menu ⋮ and choose View Lists. (At the time of writing the IBO has 2 public lists).
If you then click on either of the lists, you can see all the members of that list. However, if you love the content so much, you can also make it your own. Whenever the list’s creator updates their list, it will update your version too.
To ‘subscribe’ to a list, click on the list you’re interested in e.g. IB World Schools. Next to the name click on the information icon ⓘ. Then choose to “Subscribe”
Creating your own Public List
To make your own list, click on your own Twitter picture to open up a window of settings. Click on Lists. Click + to add to your first List.
When you add someone to your public list they are notified about it.
So when you name your Public List think about the impact it has. Everyone can see it. (It’s likely to be very motivating if you add someone to a list called, “Great Teachers on Twitter” but less so on “Important but dull resources”)
For Public and Private lists, you can add them into your Tweetdeck setup so you have a neatly curated view of what’s important.
If you’ve got a great List to share, tweet about it! Every list has its own URL that you can share.
Go to the List you’d like to share. Copy and then use the URL that shows up in your browser’s address bar. It will look something like this: https://twitter.com/username/lists/list_name.
Saving content for later
As you will discover, there is a lot of great content out there. Some you can read once, but some you might want to keep. There are all sorts of apps to help you do this but Twitter currently has 2 solutions built in.
Save what you Like
For any tweet you see you can show your support for the content by clicking the 💙Like button.
This also makes it very easy to find tweets in future as you can just revisit your Likes.
This is the fastest, simplest solution for re-finding content you enjoyed.
However, there are times when you might not want to use the Like option. Anything you ‘like’ is public: the person posting the tweet will be notified; your followers can see it; and your list of past Likes is visible to everyone when they look at your profile. Most of the time this is great. However, if you want to keep some interests more private then you need Bookmarks:
Bookmark tweets to save them
In 2018 Twitter added the option to Bookmark content you’re interested in. This is different to a Like as it’s private for you.
It requires a couple more clicks to bookmark things and isn’t quite so intuitive.
To add something to a bookmark, first click on the ‘share’ icon (showing the nodes). This is why I think it’s not really that intuitive. Bookmarks are private so clicking “Share” doesn’t feel right!
Then choose Add Tweet to Bookmarks
You can then rediscover these Bookmarks at any time by finding the Bookmarks section again. (To do that, click on your profile photo and select Bookmarks from the menu:
Share what you’ve found
So you’ve found interesting content, and collated and curated it. If you like, you can also share it with others. There are multiple ways to do that (including the simple “Share” button). However, one that is popular with a lot of teachers is Wakelet.
(A quick note: we added this ‘Save’ advice after a question to us from someone on Twitter. If there’s more that you would like us to add to this guide, please do get in contact @Searchality)
Twitter is a great resource for teachers. We hope you like this guide and that it helps to get you started, or to get more out of Twitter. If you did like it, please do share it: it’s what Twitter’s all about.
And continue to spread the word.
To encourage others to get involved in Twitter, if you have a staff room at school maybe you could have a computer set up to always show TweetDeck and columns relevant to your school and your local community?
If you’d like to download a version of this page to use in a training session with other staff, just click on the link.
For more information and advice about finding jobs, working abroad, and making the most of an International School experience, scroll down for more articles!
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