It’s always important as an educator to grow and learn from peers. This is a key element in becoming a better teacher and not stagnating. Falling into a rut is something that happens to all of from time to time, but knowing how to get out of that rut can at times, be a challenge for some.
One fantastic way of growing as an educator is to become part of a professional learning network.
There are many ways of joining PLN’s (#PLN). They are on Google Groups, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. For the sake of this post, I want to focus on Twitter since that is a space I enjoy being in and honestly, have had success with as a learner myself.
First of all, as a teacher, if you aren’t on Twitter, you should be. Many amazing teachers around the world use Twitter on a daily basis They share the amazing work they do with their students in class, they share lesson ideas, collaborate with other teachers, post research and share their knowledge.
I have formed professional relationships via Twitter, discovered fantastic teaching ideas, met teachers in other parts of the world and collaborated with their students, have formed friendships and have even received job offers!
I use Twitter as a teacher for a few reasons.
First, I use it to be a learner. I use it to follow the latest news (education and non-education). I follow many global news organizations such as BBC, NHK, CBC, CNN, etc. and that way, I get alerted to breaking news events long before most others know about them. I was using Twitter back in 2011 when the big earthquake and tsunami hit Japan (using an account I no longer have). That was really important since I was teaching and living in Japan. I was able to follow breaking news immediately and was always up to date. As far as teaching news goes, may education organizations and schools make announcements on Twitter before anywhere else.
Second, I use it to build my professional network. Networking is a key to becoming successful in any industry and teaching is no different. Follow your colleagues. Follow famous educators like Kath Murdoch and Vicki Davis. Look who they follow and follow those people too! If you are an international educator and you are interested in certain schools around the world as places of possible future employment, follow those schools and then follow the teachers who work there! Soon your contacts grow.
Third, I use Twitter to show the world who I am as a teacher and an outdoor/nature expert. Twitter is my digital portfolio. “Hey world, look at me and see what I am capable of doing!”
I use it to market and promote myself. I of course also use it to share news about science, technology, and Japan, some of my other interests.
Now that you are on Twitter and populating your feed with other fantastic teachers, you need to use the tool. Don’t be passive. You need to be active to grow your own following. Without followers, no one will see what you do or notice you.
How do you build followers?
1. Use Twitter daily…many times a day. Space out those tweets. Send out some in the morning, afternoon, evening and night. Remember, those teachers out there are global. They are in different time zones and may miss things you post so post when teachers in some parts of the world are going to sleep and others are getting up.
2. Twitter is kind of like a fire hose. One or two tweets a day are like drops of water in a big bucket and won’t be noticed, but constant tweets, a constant spray, will get you noticed more often.
3. “Like” other teachers’ tweets, but MORE IMPORTANTLY, RETWEET THEM! Retweets get more eyeballs on their tweets. If you retweet others regularly they will appreciate it, notice you and probably follow you as well. If you consistently retweet them, they will probably retweet your stuff which means you get noticed and your following will grow.
4. Make your feed about more than just teaching. Add some food and travel pictures to your feed. Share your hobbies and other interests. That will help you grow a broader following more quickly. That will also help you tweet more often!
5. Build community by regularly shouting out people using Follow Fridays (#FF #FollowFridays). The more you show community support or try to build community, the better a reputation you will gain on Twitter and you will garner more followers.
6. Use video on Twitter! It doesn’t just have to be about text and pictures. People find short videos very engaging!
7. Engage people in conversations. When they make a great post, retweet it and then make a comment. Ask them a question. Start a conversation. People want to support active and engaged users!
8. Market your skills and have fun!
By the way….you can follow me on Twitter @madformaple
About the Writer:
Kevin O’Shea is a PYP/Nature/Outdoor educator currently based in Beijing, China. He is a father, husband, and avid conservationist. Kevin is an advocate for outdoor play and nature education. He is the host of the long-running Just Japan Podcast and is currently developing the Making Better Teachers Podcast!