Sunday, March 15, 2015

Do you tweet? If not, give Twitter a chance

Do you tweet?  Don't know what that is?  Then you are not a Twitter user or follower.

On March 21 Twitter will celebrate its 9th anniversary.  The founder of Twitter posted the first tweet and now Twitter has 288 million active users posting 500 million tweets a day.  Wow!

About three years I embarked on my first social network, Twitter.  I had never had a Facebook account and still don't, and really had no desire to get one.  I was wary as a high school principal about even the possibility of being so public and could see no professional reason to Facebook.

As I heard more about Twitter though I had become very curious about creating a Personal Learning Network (PLN).

I wanted to interact with educators in order to learn from those with similar interests, such a focusing on student learning and professional learning communities.  A PLN is an informal learning network of people you connect with for learning, and now I cannot imagine functioning as an educator and high school principal without Twitter and the other educators who make up my PLN, such as Steven Weber, Dwight Carter, Bobby Dodds, Wes Weaver, Penny Kittle and many other substantive educators.

Notifications on Twitter lets you know who is recently following you as well as re-tweets to your tweets.

One of my favorite learning networks is #atplc, short for "all things professional learning community" an intense interest of mine.  By searching this, or whatever interest you may have on Twitter, you can easily link up with others of the same interest and garner excellent ideas and information.

My Twitter PLN reflects others educators that I learn from every day.

I also wanted to establish my own digital footprint as positively as possible before someone I didn't know established a negative one for me.  I remember talking to another educator who reminded me that all of us already have a digital identity.  Whether we establish it or someone else does is up to us.

In addition, I had a professional goal of utilizing social media for better communication with our high school's families and students, and after investigating Twitter thought its brevity of 140 characters per tweet would lend itself to fast and direct communication.

In other words, I wanted to provide quick and important updates to families and students without spending a lot of time doing it.

So I contacted one of our district's tech specialists and she came over to my office and helped me establish a school Facebook (mostly for our parents) and Twitter (mostly for our students) accounts.  Hootsuite manages both so I make one post on both Facebook and Twitter simultaneously.

Our school Twitter account reflects our direct communication to our stakeholders about school events and accomplishments.

It has greatly increased school-home direct communication.  We have 1818 followers of the school account while only following 12 accounts.  The school account follows other school Twitter accounts, such as our student section (@jeromejungle) and many of our sports teams, such as basketball, football and hockey also have Twitter accounts and so when we tag their accounts their followers directly receive our Tweets.  These thousands of followers have thousands of followers themselves and so we reach a great number of our school community with just one tweet.

As for my personal Twitter account (@cathysankey) I am well aware that many students and parents on Twitter certainly also follow my personal account and so I am cognizant to use this account mainly for PLN purposes.  I never put anything personal on the account that I would not want to see on the 6 PM newscast-- a good rule of thumb for anyone on social media.

Now I cannot imagine life without the school Twitter and Facebook accounts and my PLN.  I learn so much every day about education and also follow famous quotes and beautiful photo sites that help alleviate some of the stress of being a high school principal.

Don't Tweet?  Give Twitter a chance to learn and grow as a professional every day.


  1. I agree that Twitter is a game-changer, Cathy! I think it's been about 3 years for me, too, since I discovered it. You've given some great tips on how to start. I hope any non-Twitter users will be convinced to start benefiting from all it has to offer after reading your post. :-)

  2. Oh, and I don't know if you know this, but Margaret Simon has a Sunday Digital Literacy link up on her blog. She is a slicer, also. This post would be a great one to link up today!

    1. Thanks, Holly, for both of your comments and for the great digital literacy link. I truly appreciate it.

  3. I have only just started using Twitter in the past year or so. I use it mainly from Wordpress as a link to a new blog post is automatically posted there, but I will occasionally check in on Twitter itself. My problem is once I actually get on Twitter I find TOO much and I get lost on various tangents!

  4. I feel the same way as you do about Twitter. I learn so much from my online PLN. I feel that I am more frequently saying, I read on Twitter, or last night in that chat... I focus all on literacy in Twitter. Just followed you :) Facebook is for literacy and family. So many amazing authors on Facebook. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing about your PLN and literacy. It is always great to get new ideas.

  5. Thanks for the encouragement to use these tools more widely. I'm just a beginner and still get frustrated. . .

  6. Thanks for the encouragement to use these tools more widely. I'm just a beginner and still get frustrated. . .

    1. Don't get discouraged, Marilyn. It is hard to get started sometimes. I was always afraid of making mistakes tweeting and re-tweeting when I got started. Good luck and keep at it!


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