Professional Development and Twitter



Twitter always seemed like such a waste of time to me.  I would see the hashtags as I watched Dancing with the Stars and think, “Why would I ever need to do that?”  My husband could spend an easy 30 minutes browsing his feed sharing tidbits about his favorite golfers and their pre-Masters routines.  What was the point??

And then I started to blog, and I realized that Twitter has become THE BEST free professional development tool out there.  Somewhere along the way, I read an article called, “The Teacher’s Guide to Twitter”.  If you are thinking about using Twitter, you can start with this.  It is bit overwhelming, so let me put out some simple steps.

1.  Create a handle.  Mine is @susielavallee.  I wanted to use the @theipodteacher, but it was already taken, and he’s been using it for some time.  Names are good because, eventually, you may want people to know who you are, and your handle will reinforce this!

2.  Select a profile picture.  Nothing screams “New User” like a preset icon.

3.  Think about who you would like to follow.  Start with those you know.  I currently follow a few coworkers including @mrsbarbarino and @DrTaranto.  Our district now has a feed: @canonmacschools.  However, my best advice is to follow some leaders in our field and some organizations that share terrific content.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Leaders in the Field:

@KleinErin – elementary teacher and #edtech guru; blogger; and Scholastic contributor

@rmbyrne – another #edtech guru; excellent content

@coolcatteacher – blogger, author

@TechNinjaTodd – teacher, administrator, #edtech enthusiast







4.  Now that you are following a few, click on who THEY are following and find a few more to follow!  Specifically, go to @KleinErin.  Click on “Following” and click on “Lists”.  She has a great list of people you can follow to build your Personal Learning Network (PLN).  This is how I started, and I highly recommend this method!

5.  Read, tweet, retweet.  Read what interests you.  Tweet to comment.  Retweet to share and give credit where credit is due.  It’s that simple!

6.  Hashtags can be stressful.  Don’t let them get to you.  You will see patterns pop up as you read and consume.  Basically, hashtags are a way to narrow your stream to particular topics.  #edtech is a popular one.  I also look at a stream of posts with the #edapps tag.  I am attending a conference in Boston next week, so I’m looking at #BLC14 for the latest updates on what to expect.  I found out that there will be a runners group each morning!

I currently do not use Twitter to communicate with students or parents, but listening to @TechNinjaTodd speak at #flipcon14, I may have to revisit this idea.  Stay tuned!