Ten Minutes on Twitter

In talking with many colleagues about Twitter, I often hear things like:

“I just don’t get it.”
“I don’t have time for that.”
“I have to many other things going on.”
“I don’t have a smartphone.”
“I don’t want people I don’t know to follow me.”

I think the first response, “I just don’t get it,” isn’t an excuse, I think it’s an honest answer. For someone brand new to Twitter, I can completely relate to thinking, “what’s the point of all this?” When I first went onto Twitter it wasn’t by choice.

In the Fall of 2011, I was enrolled in a Technology Leadership course and was required to open an account by my grad professor.

Admittedly at first I was thinking, “this is going to be a complete waste of my time.”(I don’t have time for this).

However, I now realize that being forced to explore Twitter and how it could be used as a means to connect and learn from other educators was completely life changing.

Our first assignment was to open a Twitter account and participate in Ed Chat. I distinctly remember going on to Ed Chat one Tuesday night in September and I had absolutely no idea what was going on. It was a miracle I had figured out how to create an account!

We had been warned it might be confusing, but it was like I was reading a foreign language. We were supposed to “contribute to the conversation” but I had no idea what to say, nor did I think anyone would care, but being the overachiever I am, I believe I did send a “Tweet” (I wasn’t even sure if I was using the term correctly at the time).

So needless to say, my first Twitter experience was confusing and I honestly didn’t think it was all that meaningful, but as time went on, I found myself growing more curious about the “Twitosphere” and thought to myself, “I can learn this Twitter stuff!” I wanted to know what all the Twitter lingo meant; RT, MT, @, #, followers, following, handle, etc. it was like there were all these people out there speaking this cryptic language and I wanted to know what they were talking about! Especially since some people were saying things that literally tens of thousands of people wanted to hear.

I figured these were people who were probably sharing some pretty powerful insights about education, so I better start learning to Tweet and stop missing out!

So, I gave Twitter another shot and decided this time I was going to figure it out! I thought, “it’s only 140 characters, it can’t be that difficult!” So, under the advice of my grad professor, I decided to “follow” (still seemed weird to me) Eric Sheninger, Principal of New Milford High School in New Milford, New Jersey. He was referred to as “Principal Twitter” by Scholastic magazine, so I figured odds were he would be a good person to start with. Was I ever right!

I started reading Eric’s Tweets. From there I was led to his blog, since it’s connected to his Twitter, watched a few of the videos on his website where he talked about Twitter, and then I started to get it.

I started interpreting the “code” known as Twitter simply by clicking on the links that were provided and then started to LEARN!!!

Like Eric says in one of his videos, I probably have learned more via Twitter from the amazing resources and insights shared by my colleagues than any workshop or any other professional development activity I have ever engaged in over the past 15 years.

I remember as an undergraduate student before the advent of social networking sites, I would sit in the library for hours on the World Wide Web trying to find at least two or three meaningful resources. Now I can go on to Twitter and literally within five minutes I can find at least a dozen incredible resources that I can use in my classroom or in my graduate studies.

So for everyone out there who looks at Twitter and says, “I just don’t get it?” I get that. I used to be you. And there were times when I went onto Twitter and I just didn’t see the point. But really what motivated me was the inspiration of my grad professor, Nicole Tomaselli.

Like most of my grad professors, Professor Tomaselli simply encouraged me and it was through this encouragement that I became sold on the power of Twitter.

It doesn’t matter what I need professionally, I know that I am going to find it on Twitter almost instantaneously. It has almost made Google obsolete for me as a professional. And since time is such a premium for us educators, I would encourage all educators to invest some time to learning about Twitter.

The benefits will allow you to save time in the long run, and use the time that you are saving to focus on what you really care about and that is inspiring and teaching your students.

I know that anyone who is reading this is already a Twitter fan, but I would urge you to email this post to your colleagues who are not yet on the Twitter bandwagon and tell them to reach out to me with any questions.

I am definitely not an expert, but like to think that I could give some valuable insight on how to properly leverage this tool to truly change your perspective on professional development.

I’ve been reading a lot of posts lately that are promoting professional development, but they aren’t promoting Twitter.

This is a post about promoting Twitter. Give it some time. Start with 10 minutes every Tuesday on Twitter. If you do that for one month straight and you haven’t been converted then I will leave you alone!

Take a look at my presentation,
“Twitter for Teachers.” In this presentation I define the basics of Twitter, and give recommendations on some of the top people to follow. Start with Eric Sheninger, like I did. In addition, follow Joe Mazza, Patrick Larkin, Justin Tarte,
Brad Currie, Rob Furman, Lisa Nielson, Shelley Terrell, Dasiy Deyer Duerr, Kathy Shrock, Tom Whitby, Will Richardson, Steve Anderson, George Curous… I could continue but this is probably a good start for now.

The most important thing to remember about these Twitter recommendations is that I’m recommending people to follow. I’m not recommending the agent of a celebrity. These are real people who manage their real Twitter accounts, and if you send them a question, the odds are very high that they will respond to you.

These are people on Twitter who are committed to education reform. They are highly successful in their roles, whatever they may be, and have been an incredible source of inspiration to me as I have pursued my degree in Educational Administration.

Because of Twitter, I have been able to learn first hand from the types of leaders whom I wish to emulate. Regardless of what your professional goals may be, I would strongly urge you to get involved in the world of Twitter so that you too can learn from incredibly inspirational people who share your passion for teaching and learning in the 21st Century.

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15 comments

  • Hi Jenn,
    I have been curious about ‘Twitter’ for some time and your piece has come as an opportune time for me to learn
    and use it as a tool for teaching .
    What is a good smartphone to get one started – iPhone 5/ Samsung Galaxy ….?
    Thanks.

    Kath

    • Hi Kathy,

      Honored that my post inspired you to give Twitter a try! You can easily access Twitter from any desktop or laptop also, you don’t necessarily need a Smartphone, but there is an app for it and most often I access Twitter via my Smartphone.

      When I find resources I want to save via Twiter, I put them into Evernote or I save them to my Edmodo library. The easiest way to “save” Tweets you want to refer to later might be to just favorite them. You’ll then be able to go back to your favorite Tweets for easy access. If you start Tweeting a lot however, you’ll want to look into Evernote, Dropbox, or Edmodo to keep yourself organized otherwise you may start to get overwhelmed (that’s how it was for me anyway).

      So back to your question iPhone or Droid…this is a big one! I can only give you my feedback on the iPhone since that is what I have and I have no experience with a Droid. I love the iPhone. It’s easy to use and most of my students have iPhones so they’ve taught me a lot about using it; they’ve given me tips and tricks on adding and accessing contacts, apps, etc. I upgraded from a Blackberry to an iPhone and before I did I reached out to my friends and family via Facbeook and asked everyone this exact same question: iPhone or Droid?

      Most people who have iPhones said they love it. Most people who have Droids said they love their Droid. There were several people though who said they had a Droid and then switched to an iPhone and liked the iPhone better. One of my very good friends has a Droid and the battery life is terrible. I know she wants to switch to an iPhone at some point.

      I’m pretty biased in answering this question because I’m a huge fan of the iPhone. Siri is a great feature also. In fact, I am using Siri to write this! Bottom-line, it’s really a matter of preference. If you do get an iPhone, I would recommend investing in a really sturdy case for it because I’ve seen way too many shattered screens!

      If you ask someone who has a Droid, they’re probably going to tell you they love the Droid. I think it’s whatever someone ends up purchasing and becomes comfortable using. One of my friends who has a Droid showed it to me and it looked very foreign. She was raving about how easy it was to text and demonstrated it to me, but I wouldn’t switch to a Droid, for right now anyway. By the time I’m ready to upgrade again, I’ll see what’s on the market at that time and then probably go through the same process of talking with friends, family, and colleagues before deciding.

      Hope this has helped you and good luck shopping for phone. Whatever you do end up getting you’re going to love it and then you’ll really understand why your students love the Smartphone also. It’s truly a revolutionary device for our society!

      Take care and thanks for reaching out!
      Jennifer

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  • Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new
    project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on.
    You have done a marvellous job!

  • Hello Jenn,

    thank you so much for this post, it was extremely helpful to me – as well as your ppt.
    I’m from Italy and I’m currently enrolled in an MA at the University of Florence on the technologies for education. Our last assignment is similar to the one that started your journey on Twitter: we have to use Twitter to search for materials and resources on media education to use in the classroom. In particular I need to look for resources on privacy online. One thing you said in you post really struck me: ‘Now I can go on to Twitter and literally within five minutes I can find at least a dozen incredible resources that I can use in my classroom or in my graduate studies.’
    How do you do that? I’m still in the process of getting acquainted with Twitter, there’s so much stuff going on, millions of conversations and tweets and links and noise. apart fro following the right people, how do you search for specific things, without reading endless conversations?
    Thank you so much for your wonderful job!
    F.

    • Hi Francesca,

      So great to connect with you!

      I can relate to feeling a tad overwhelmed with Twitter! I spent a lot of time “lurking and learning” when I first started on Twitter and it really is about who you follow, and not how many people you follow. This is what I learned from Eric Sheninger, Principal at New Milford High School in New Jersey.

      I discovered the tool Live Binders through exploring Twitter, which is essentially a digital three ring binder. A great person on Twitter who has a collection of educational Live Binders is Steve Anderson (@web20classroom).

      He has a Live Binder dedicated to online safety. Here is the link

      http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=38320
      Give that a try.

      Another great person who has lots of resources is Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1). He is like “Google for educators!”

      He has an excellent page on online safety. Here is the link to that:
      http://cybraryman.com/digcit.html

      I think these two resources will be a huge help to you. Let me know if you need anything else. I’m @jlscheffer if you want to connect with me via Twitter. Good luck and have fun on your journey!

      Sincerely,
      Jennifer

      • Francesca Bettelli

        Jenn,

        thank you so much! You don’t know how useful your suggestions are being. Thank you!

        I will certainly connect with you – though, a the moment, Twitter is still an experiment for me, and I won’t contribute a lot to conversations!

        Thank you,

        Francesca

  • Reblogged this on Tracy G's Teacher Tech and commented:
    I wish I had found this blog years ago. Instead it took me a while to try it out and find out for myself. Twitter is great and easy to use. Read this wonderful blog by Jennifer Scheffer…

    • Thank you so much Tracy! Have only been blogging for a few months now, but it’s a great way to share experiences and connect globally with colleagues! Learning so much every day!

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  • I was one that thought the Twitter craze for teachers was outlandish. At first I thought it was mostly for self promotion, which I don’t stand for. However, as I’ve started to look at some of the chats, and follow some other teachers I have found that it has endless resources for teachers. That said, I don’t think it’s a place to go if you’re looking for a quick fix, or like me, a lesson idea the morning of class (because I don’t like what I have).

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