Twitter for Education: Using Social Media to Expand your PLN

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, you name it, there’s a social media app to go along with it. Social media has saturated our culture, for better or for worse. Whether you like it or not, this is a part of our culture. And like many things, it can be both beneficial and harmful.

Personally, I’m terrible with social media. As an incredibly introverted person, the last thing I want to do after spending a full work day engaging with students, the last thing I want to do is interact with more people, online or not. I’m more of a lurker online, just scrolling through my feeds to keep up with people but not actually interacting with them. That’s why I’ve tried to take a more active role online, and Twitter has been one element that has made this year so successful for me. There are a few things that Twitter has done to help me grow and expand my professional learning network (PLN). Here are a few things I’ve gained:

Tons of classroom ideas

On my own, I have a small handful of teachers that I know personally in my school and general area. One thing about teachers is that we often hoard our ideas away and keep them to ourselves. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one of those. I don’t want to share all my ideas only to have other teachers in my school use the same stuff to the point where students get tired of it, so it loses its effectiveness.

What I love about the Twitter education network is that there is a community of sharing all over. When I started following several other educators, I came into a wealth of great ideas to use int eh classroom. I’ve tried in the same vein to share what’s working in my class as well.

Encouragement in the profession

If you’ve been in this profession for any amount of time, you know how easily this job can get discouraging. Between students, parents, administrators, and colleagues, there’s always something waiting to drag us down. Through networking online with other teachers, we can get encouragement from others dealing with the same struggles. We have outside support to get us through those struggles.

A place to “brag”

Okay, so this may be a little selfish, but I think it’s also a great source of encouragement. When stuff goes well, when we get that win, let others celebrate with you. Celebrate with others. Throw some more positivity out in the world. In the same way that we can use Twitter to get encouragement when we’re struggling, we can also celebrate our victories.

Community and friendship

I think this last one is an important one. Teaching can become somewhat of a lonely profession. Sure, we have colleagues that we work with on a daily basis, but for whatever reason, many teachers end up sort of holed up and closed off from the rest of the world. Twitter allows us to connect to other people in our profession around the country and around the world. We don’t have to go through the struggles alone. I started following several educators on Twitter, and it’s really made me feel like a part of something whereas in the past, I just felt like I was swimming against the current. I’ve enjoyed conversations I’ve had with fellow educators.

Twitter has really given me a huge boost in my professional learnign and helped me develop a great online network. How have you used online networks to help you out? Who do you follow? Comment below and let me know.

Also, feel free to get connected with me on Twitter, @comicsocks. I’m still figuring things out, but I’d love to connect with you.

Published by Lee Tucker

Lee Tucker is a high school English teacher who not only teaches literature and writing but also creates it himself. Lee is a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction, video games, comic books, and all things nerdy.

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