I don’t use Twitter for noteworthy news. I don’t use it for socializing with friends. I don’t use it for posting photos of my meals, nor do I use it for keeping up with the Kardashians.

I use it for professional learning.

Twitter is an incredible digital resource for educators who want to learn and grow. In fact, I literally wrote a disseration about it. No really, I did.

TONS of passionate, enthusiastic teachers around the world come together to share resources and engage in meaningful dialogue. Every time I jump on Twitter, I am greeted with ideas, strategies, video clips, blog posts, insightful quotes, and invitations to join intriguing education Twitter chats.

And truly, these chats have rejuvenated my professional life. Sometimes I feel like I learn more from a quick one-hour Twitter chat than I do from a whole day of standard professional learning.

I am now a part of a network comprising of teachers, specialists, administrators, bloggers, authors, tech gurus, and more. It’s truly awesome!

So…what exactly is an education Twitter chat???

A Twitter chat happens when a group of people meet on Twitter at a predetermined time to tweet about a specific topic using the same hashtag (#). For example, every Sunday night at 8 EST first grade teachers across the globe come together under the hashtag #1stchat to discuss relevant topics such as small-group math or literacy. There’s usually one moderator (or host) who asks a series of questions. Participants respond to the questions, sometimes branching off to respond specifically to one another. Most moderators will create a transcript of the chat for later reference through a social media service like TweetReports.

How do I get started???

1)  Activate a Twitter Account:  Go to Twitter.com and create a free account. Determine your username (mine is @teachtrainlove but many use their first/last names). Write a short bio and upload profile and background pictures.

2)  Start Building Your Professional Network:  Follow other educators! The cool thing about Twitter is you can follow whoever you want, and it’s not one bit weird! Find well-known educators or authors you like and start following their tweets. Do a people search for words like “teacher” or “educator” and peruse bios. You can click to see who other people are following to connect also.

3)  Send Out Your First Tweet:  I remember this being scary, but it’s really not! Create a tweet to introduce yourself. Then start sending out tweets about anything education-related that you want to share. You don’t have to use a hashtag each time, but doing so categorizes tweets so people can find them more easily. Here is the Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Education.

4)  Find a Chat:  Once you feel comfortable tweeting, find an education chat that interests you. Here’s a comprehensive list of Weekly Twitter Chats.  I would first listen and “lurk” in the chat to observe how it works. Questions and answers are usually prefaced with Q or A, with the number of the question/answer following. When you feel ready, jump in and answer one! Make sure to include the chat’s hashtag so your response is seen by all in the chat.

5) Use a Twitter Client:  Twitter chats are FAST! So many resources/ideas are being shared in a short amount of time. Once you understand how a chat works, join Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, as these sites will help you follow/participate in conversations more easily.

I hope this post helps all you Twitter newbies out there! For those actively involved already, which Twitter chats are your favorites?

Thanks and see you on Twitter!

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