I’m not entirely sure what spurred this post to be written; usually I have them whirling around in my head for a few days but this morning I woke up early, turned the computer on and out it came. So here’s my A-Z of Twitter for teacher CPD, part encouragement to join twitter, part advice for newbies to twitter.
To access an interactive version click here.
a – ask If you ever need resources, ideas or some inspiration for a topic or lesson, all you need to do is ask. There is always at least 1 person willing to share. In addition there are so many knowledgeable people willing to support, guide and offer advice. You just have to be willing to ask. b – bookmark blogs There are an incredible number of education bloggers that tweet or tweachers that blog. Finding the time read them all can be hard. I highly recommend making use of a bookmarking app such as pinterest, flipboard, google bookmarks or similar to keep track of them for when you do have downtime to read them. c – connect Twitter has been a source of connecting to others during my hardest of times. It stopped me from feeling as alone as I could have. Personally I’ve made some incredible friends as a result of twitter and whilst I may not work directly with people, some feel more like colleagues than online acquaintances. Try it. d – debate Now this one can be a challenge. Debates sometimes can lead to arguments on twitter. It’s difficult to put across what you want to say in so few characters and as a result debates can quickly turn into arguments, particularly in the school holidays. But don’t let that put you off. It’s good to have your thinking challenged. You don’t even have to get involved in debates and discussions; being a bystander can be as much of benefit as being involved providing you are willing to listen to all sides of the debate and challenge your own thinking. e – engage It’s all well and good signing up to twitter, you can find plenty of inspiration and ideas by merely following people but to get the most out of twitter for your own CPD purposes you need to engage with others, conversations etc. Start by liking a tweet or two, then respond, then share your own resources, links etc. f – feedback Provide feedback to those you borrow ideas from, firstly it helps both of you to develop your practice as a result of the reflection process and secondly it feels great to receive feedback on a resource or idea you’ve worked hard at. g – give As great as twitter is for borrowing ideas, it needs us all to give as well. If we leave the giving to a small handful of people; ideas run dry, practice stagnates, contempt sets in. For every resource you borrow/steal/magpie etc. give something back whether it be a link to a useful article, offering an idea or giving out a copy of your own resource. We all need to give a little back to those that share profusely. h – hashtags Hashtags are great for sorting your tweets, highlighting content of your tweets and most importantly to create a sense of community. Most subjects have their own #Team tag such as #TeamEnglish #TeamGeog and #TeamRE to name a few. As well as hashtags for communities there are plenty of education chats as well. Here’s a link or two to get you started a) Hashtag list b) Edu-Chats i – ignore Unfortunately you’ll find some educators on twitter believing they are the epitome of what the rest of us should be like; don’t let them fool you. Ignore these behaviours and don’t let them make you feel like you are not worthy of your job title. If you really don’t like what some people have to say or their behaviour, follow the advice you’d give students and report and/or block them. j – jaded It’s hard not to become jaded when you see the amount of amazing ideas some people share; you can end up feeling like you are not good enough, that you don’t have any original ideas, that you don’t work hard enough. Don’t worry, you are doing great. Some people (I was once included in this) work too hard, whether a result of personal desires or workplace demands; they also tend to have few responsibilities outside of work and therefore have the time. Do not feel you have to work harder, longer, more creatively etc. Make the most of twitter by borrowing what you can to reduce your own workload, just remember to give back. k – knock-on effect What you discover through twitter has a knock-on effect in your classroom and hopefully school. Be sure to share what you find with others. Perhaps highlight a piece of good practice you’ve stolen from twitter with others as part of department/leadership meetings, as a message at the end of emails or through a weekly bulletin. l – learn To get the most from Twitter for CPD purposes, you’ll want to ensure you keep an open mind and are willing to explore/discuss new ideas. Allow yourself to keep learning, keep being challenged. Learn from the experience and make the most of the opportunities to update your understanding of pedagogy, teaching and learning and education. m – magpie One of my favourite terms picked up from using Twitter has to be to ‘magpie’. In order words, steal, borrow etc. ideas and inspiration from others. I loved it so much I even set up Magpied Pedagogy to try and collate as many of the fantastic ideas out there. It’s even a term I use in the classroom ‘time to magpie’ – students fly around the room stealing ideas from others before returning to their own work and adding to it. n – network Twitter provides a great opportunity to network, the opportunity to interact with others from both within and outside the teaching profession, to exchange information, ideas and debate as well as developing professional and/or social contacts. o – offer As with engaging with others and sharing your own work it’s also important to offer ideas, advice and resources if possible when others ask. By doing so we reduce each others workload that little bit and help to develop the community of educators; it’s a kind of pay-it-forward scheme. p – PLN A PLN is a personal learning network; this being the connections you create with those that help you to develop and learn in a professional (and possibly personal) context. A PLN is about sharing ideas and resources, collaborating and learning. q – question There are so many resources and ideas being shared, it’s hard to know what to use sometimes. Ensure you always question the purpose, the application and how applicable is it to your learners. I must admit that initially I tried to use everything I saw and liked; but that lasted all of a few months when I realised a) it was unsustainable b) they weren’t always suitable for my learners/my style. There’s no harm in trying new things, just don’t try everything. Question them to decipher what’s worthwhile for you and your classes. r – research I could spend hours on twitter researching particular areas of focus there’s so much out there; I often find it quicker to find research material on twitter than on google. Simply type in the search bar your topic and you’ll find either people involved in the field of study, hashtags or tweets associated. From there I find what’s relevant and take it from there; sometimes it might be taking the name of a university lecturer from the field and then googling them to find their work or even just simply opening a link from a tweet. Also you can easily ask others for pointers on where to find relevant research and information. s – stand up Sometimes when we are stuck in a classroom/office for the majority of the day, it’s hard to feel like we are a community of professionals with a voice. Use twitter to stand up for what you believe in. The more noise we make as a collective, the further the message spreads. I personally do a lot on teacher wellbeing, workload and mental health as a result of my own experiences, I know others stand up for LGBT rights, minorities and women in education. t – tweachers Once you start tweeting about education and teaching, you officially become part of the community of ‘Tweachers’, I’m afraid there’s no fanfare or certificates but you can take pride in the knowledge that you have joined the ranks of teachers that tweet. u – Universities Follow universities on twitter for education and subject specific academic research, articles and links. They are a great source of information to develop you pedagogical and subject knowledge. v – visits I know of a number of educators, teachers and school leaders that have organised school visits via twitter. Twitter is useful for connecting to teachers and schools; seeing the good practice out there and creating connections. Make the most of it by creating networks and communities with schools in your area or further afield. w – wellbeing Twitter has been my biggest support for managing my own wellbeing. I got involved with #Teacher5aday back in December 2015; it has given me a support network as well as incredible friendships. It’s important to look after your wellbeing (that includes not spending hours on Twitter looking for teaching ideas), allow your twitter friendships to support you to make sure you switch off from work. x – x-factor teachers This one can be both positive and negative. You can end up feeling a little z-list with all the great work being shared but remember its social media, regularly users highlight the great stuff in their life rather than the mundane day-to-day. Also look out for those x-factor tweachers, the ones that think they have a noteworthy talent and that everyone should listen or do as they do. It’s not good for you mind or soul. Remember not to compare yourself with them. y – year-round CPD Twitter for CPD is year-round, really you can’t get away from it so try to be ‘strict’ with it, otherwise you can constantly be thinking about work. Disconnect from twitter now and then or at least disconnect from the education based conversations, remember you are a human first, a teacher second. But whilst we are on the note of year-round CPD, check out this list of CPD events through out the year from Pete Sanderson – Edu-Conference National Calendar. z -ZZZZs…. Too many teachers are burning out. You must look after yourself. Beg, borrow and share resources on twitter; by doing so you reduce your workload and the workload of others (here’s an article I contributed towards on the topic). Avoid burnout by asking for help, ideas and resources; share what you can and make sure you get plenty of ZZZZs (so avoid twitter before bed, it’s too easy to get caught up in something).
Finally if you’re new to edutwitter or looking for people to follow, check out this updated page from Russel Tarr – https://www.classtools.net/twitter4teachers/
What would you add to encourage other teachers to use twitter for CPD? Your thoughts are welcomed.