Welcome to the third step in our free professional learning series on building your PLN.

In the first two steps, we looked at what a PLN means and how to become a connected educator.

We’re now getting into the specifics of how to use particular tools, beginning with Twitter.

The aim of this step is to:

  1. Explain what Twitter is and how it’s used.
  2. Explain the benefits of using Twitter as part of your PLN.
  3. Helps you set up your Twitter account and connect with others.
Should You Use Twitter Flowchart Sylvia Duckworth
Sketchnote by Sylvia Duckworth

Introduction To Twitter

Most teachers who are using Twitter would probably agree that it is their number one way they build and connect with their PLN.

In fact, a 2016 study showed that the most popular tool K-12 teachers use to connect with others was Twitter.

What Is Twitter?

Twitter is a social networking, news, and microblogging service that allows you to send out short messages called tweets.

Along with text and links, tweets can also contain media (up to 4 photos, a video, or a GIF).

Tweets used to be limited to 140 characters but this increased to 280 characters by 2018.

Twitter is a place that you can just lurk, by reading others’ tweets, or contribute, by sending out your own tweets. Obviously, the latter is what you work towards as the more you put in, the more you get out!

You can read tweets without having your own Twitter account (as long as the accounts you’re following are public — and the majority are). To contribute, you will need an account which we will explain below.

One of the great things about Twitter is that it is accessible on your computer, laptop, tablet, or phone. You can use the native Twitter website or app, or there are many other popular third party apps that aim to improve functionality and accessibility.

Tweetdeck was once an independent app that has now been acquired by Twitter. Many users enjoy using it to organize their feed.

Twitter is used by people in nearly every country around the world. 83% of 193 UN member countries have Twitter a presence. For teachers, this means you have access to thousands of teachers with rich backgrounds and experiences that can contribute to your professional growth.

Anatomy Of A Tweet

Twitter is made up of tweets. We created this diagram to help you understand tweets better.

You’re welcome to share it with others or display it on your blog.

Anatomy of a Tweet | Edublogs Teacher Challenge

Interacting With Tweets

When you see a tweet, there are certain things you can click on:

  • The person’s name to see their profile page. You can look at their bio and see all their tweets.
  • Follow to have the tweeter’s future tweets show up on your homepage.
  • A link (if there is one) to open a website in your browser.
  • A hashtag to see other tweets that are categorized with the same hashtag (regardless of whether you follow the people using that hashtag)
  • Like (the heart) — this shows your appreciation, agreement, or acknowledgment of the tweet. Simply, tap/click the heart to like the tweet (tap/click again to undo).
  • Retweet to share the tweet with your own followers. This demonstrates that you found the tweet interesting or shareworthy. You will also have the option to add a comment to the retweet.
  • Direct message — you can message someone privately or start a private group conversation. Depending on individual settings, you might only be able to direct message someone if you both follow each other.
  • Comments — this allows you to either read what other people have said in a public reply, or add your own reply.

Think You’re Not Interested In Twitter? Think Again!

Twitter is more than just “another social networking tool”.

It generally isn’t about reconnecting with people you knew in high school or sharing what you’re cooking for dinner. Of course, some people only use Twitter for fun, although for most educators Twitter is about connecting with like minded individuals for personalized and ongoing professional development.

There are millions of tweets flying around in the Twitterverse 24-7 but the good thing is you can use Twitter as your time and inclination permits!

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach has shared an analogy of Twitter being like a river. The river keeps flowing but sometimes you might just walk past and have a quick look, sometimes you might hang around and dip your toes in, other times you might spend hours swimming around.

The choice is yours.

In this three minute video, Alec Couros explains how Twitter is used effectively in education.

Benefits Of Using Twitter

Twitter is like a virtual staffroom where you can catch up with your PLN. It’s a place where educators can find advice, give advice, find great links, share work, and engage in general musings about education.

Want examples?

  • In this post, Chris Betcher describes what he got out of tweeting for just 10 minutes.
  • Similarly, in this post Edna Sackson describes what she got out of 30 minutes on Twitter one morning.
  • In this post, New Zealand teacher Juliet Revell explains some fantastic professional and personal opportunities that she experienced thanks to building a PLN on Twitter.
  • This video by Matt Miller offers snapshot of some of the things you might see on Twitter in any given session.

While these examples aren’t new and some minor functions of Twitter have changed, the basic premise remains; there are countless ways educators are using Twitter to benefit themselves and their students.

Here’s a tweet from a high school history teacher who joined Twitter in 2019.

Check out Why Teachers Are Turning To Twitter by Brendon Hyndman for more research and examples of how Twitter is used in the global education community.

Twitter provides a modern platform for teachers to share, network, gain emotional support, build professional learning communities and make a contribution to their profession.

Five Steps To Building Your PLN Via Twitter

1. Join

The sign up process is easy. Just follow these steps:

  • Go to http://twitter.com and click on the sign up box, or go directly to https://twitter.com/signup.
  • You will be required to enter information such as your name and email address as you’re guided through the sign up process.
  • Once you sign up for an account, you can select a unique username. Try not to make your username too long and make it something that identifies you, like your name, rather than a complex nickname.

Once you’re signed up, you can customize your profile.

  • Complete your bio so people know who you are. You have 160 characters for your bio. Educators often share the age group or subject they teach, and particular interests.
  • Add a profile photo. Real photos can be a better choice than a cartoon avatar. It helps you to build your relationship with your PLN. Bios and photos can hold a lot of weight in virtual relationships.
  • You’ll also be able to add a header photo. Popular header images for teachers include landscapes, a classroom photo, or a quote. Tip: You can make a personalized Twitter header image with Canva.
Twitter Profile Page Example
Your Twitter profile page offers a snapshot of what you’re all about

Refer to the Educator’s Ultimate Guide to Twitter for more detailed step-by-step instructions on how to set up and use Twitter.

2. Follow People

Following someone on Twitter means:

  • You are subscribing to their tweets and their updates will appear in your home timeline
  • That person is able to send you a private direct message if you’re following each other

Following isn’t necessarily a reciprocal relationship, like Facebook friendships. Someone can follow you without you following them back and vice versa. You don’t need to wait for approval to follow someone either, as long as their account is public.

There are thousands of teachers around the world on Twitter, you just have to know where to find them!

No ideas?

Start with our Edublogs team like @edublogs @suewaters @ronnieburt @Edublogs_Eugene and me, @kathleen_morris

There are many educational thought leaders who thousands of people enjoy following such as:

Additionally, there are many popular sources for keeping up to date with the latest news, trends, and research in education, such as:

The examples listed above are only the tip of the iceberg and far from an exhaustive list!

Once you have a few people to follow, look at who they are following and you will start to build up your PLN.

You can also adopt some Twitter regulars as your mentors and ask them to put a tweet out to encourage their followers to connect with you.

Twitter also regularly shows you suggestions of people you could follow.

Watch this video to learn how to follow and connect with people on Twitter.

3. Lurk

You’ll need to spend some time checking out the stream of tweets and getting the hang of tweeting, retweeting, direct messaging, and hashtags.

Some people say Twitter isn’t as intuitive as other web tools but it doesn’t take long for it to make sense. Give yourself a few weeks to try it. Whenever you have a few spare minutes, open Twitter, scroll through your feed, click on some links, watch how people are interacting with each other.

If the people you’re following don’t interest you, it’s fine to unfollow them. Remember, you’re in charge of building your own personal PLN.

4. Contribute

When you’ve lurked for a while, jump and contribute! Like or retweet a few tweets, reply to tweets that resonated with you, and send tweets of your own. You could try contacting a few people via direct message too — ask them a question or introduce yourself.

It may take some time to get the hang of how Twitter works. We’ve made this cheat sheet to help. Feel free to share it with others or use it on your own blog.

Twitter Cheat Sheet for Teachers | Building Your PLN Edublogs Teacher Challenge Course

Remember, the more you put in, the more you get out.

Don’t be afraid to start replying to people, retweeting tweets, asking questions, and striking up conversations.

Many teachers on Twitter are very friendly and always happy to help newbies find their feet!

What To Tweet About

Still not sure what you could be tweeting about? How about:

  • A photo from a lesson
  • A link to something interesting you’ve read
  • A question about a topic you’re interested in
  • A request for a resource
  • A link to something from your own blog or someone else’s blog
  • A favorite online tool you like to use with students

5. Stick With It!

Many regular Twitter users have commented that it took them a few attempts to get going with Twitter. Sticking with it is so important. Make yourself check into Twitter daily for a month before you make any decisions about whether it is for you.

It takes time to build rapport with people. When you do, you’ll find your professional world will be so enlightened and your students will be better for it!

Remember, you definitely won’t be seeing everything that’s tweeted, so don’t feel like you have to. You’ll receive notifications when someone replies to you, mentions you, tags you, or direct messages you. Otherwise, Twitter works fairly serendipitously and you’ll just see what you see!

Useful Video

To walk you through getting started with Twitter and to demonstrate some of the tips mentioned in this post, check out Starting a PLN on Twitter: A Quick Guide For Teachers by Common Sense Education.


Effective teaching and learning doesn’t occur in a vacuum. To be the best teacher you can be, you need a diverse and innovative network.

As we outlined in Step Two, traditionally, the staff at your school was your main network of teachers to collaborate with. This network may be fantastic but can become an echo chamber for the same ideas, values, and perspectives.

With Twitter, the barriers of distance and access are broken down and the world is at your fingertips!

In our next step, we explore Twitter further by looking at hashtags and Twitter chats.

Your Task

PLNs are about sharing, collaborating, and learning from and with others. Here’s your chance to ask a question, comment, and get involved!

We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation on building your own PLN by undertaking one or more of the following challenges:

  1. Video Reflections: Watch How To Use Twitter Effectively In Education with Alec Couros or the Common Sense Education video on Getting Started With Twitter. Leave a comment on this post to share your ideas on how you might use Twitter to build your PLN.
  2. Join: If you haven’t joined Twitter yet, head over to twitter.com and sign up. Leave a comment on this post with your Twitter username so others can follow you. If you’ve joined in the past, now could be a good time to review your account. Do you need to update your images or bio perhaps?
  3. Find Someone: After browsing Twitter, find someone who you think you’d be interested in following. Leave their Twitter username in a comment and tell us what they’re tweeting about that you find interesting.
  4. Go Deeper: Write a blog post about your initial impressions of Twitter. You could include — what you see as obstacles to taking part in Twitter, what you have learned from being on Twitter, or who you have connected with via Twitter. Don’t forget to leave a comment here with the link to your post. You might even like to document your own journey as a new Twitter user to inspire others to do the same!

Also, feel free to leave a comment to ask any questions or share your tips.

How to leave a comment: Scroll down to find the comment box. Write your comment, then enter your name and email address (email addresses are not published). Enter the anti-spam word. Press submit and we will moderate your comment ASAP.

749 thoughts on “Step 3: Using Twitter To Build Your PLN

  1. I have been on twitter for many years, but find myself using it less then instagram and Facebook Given the political drama with Musk taking over and now chasing its name to X, it will be interesting to see where Twitter lands in the social networking landscape in the next couple of years. While I still do check it almost daily, I don’t post as much and manly stick to the few people I follow for news and educational information.

  2. I used twitter quite a bit when I was in high school, but then I deleted it because things like instagram and tik tok became a lot more popular with my friends. I redownloaded twitter recently with the idea that I might use it to create my PLN. I need to do some playing around with it to find great educators to follow and hashtags that cover what I want to learn about. The nice thing about twitter is that the posts are shorter, so I can figure out if I want to click on the link and learn more right now or if it something to learn about at another time.

  3. I have a twitter account, but I am a “lurker” in that I don’t post anything but I view other’s content. I would be interested in following @SteveSpangler. He is a pretty well known science educator who focuses on making big spectacular science demonstrations. Essentially they are magic tricks that have a scientific explanation. In learning how the phenomenon works the students accidentally learn something about science. Its a really authentic way of learning. These demos are really effective at increasing student engagement and interest in the subject matter.

  4. Believe it or not, I have never used Twitter before. After watching the video, it seems like a great platform to connect to and build a PLN, and looks quite similar to Facebook. If and when I do make a Twitter account, it will be with my school email and I will follow other educators to build by PLN. Twitter seems like a great resource that I never gave a chance, and grants access to instant connections with other educators.

  5. I am hoping that Twitter will play a big part in my PLN. I have had a Twitter account for a while, but have be more of the “lurker” type of user. I have not yet really used it to grow a PLN, but plan to do so starting soon. One feature I have liked is that once you find someone you want to follow Twitter has some recommendations for more similar people to follow. I think this will help me build a PLN quickly.

  6. I set up a Twitter account using my school email address. @JAMusick As I worked on this, I realized I did have an old Twitter account using an old personal email. I honestly had forgotten the account existed. Since I am hoping to build my PLN with Twitter, it seemed like using a school email account would help me keep my focus on professional development. Here’s to attempt #2 to become a Twitter user:)

  7. I made a twitter account @MsRainsbowsTips. I have tried to get into twitter before but I don’t think I ever gave it a real chance. So here we go again with a better mindset! I’m so excited to start building my PLN.

  8. I believe twitter can be used to build a PLN of like minded educators. I think a lot of educators, more likely administrators, use Twitter to post unguided inspirational quotes. I am not exactly sure why that it is, maybe its genuine maybe they think they have to? Anyway, its a huge population of many different type of people and many different types of educators. I think it would be a great way to find individuals who are doing things that you want to do in your classroom whether that is using specific tech tools, using different conversational strategies among students, or posting inspirational quotes day after day. It is probably the best digital platform I can think of where one can seek out and probably find the exact type of educator network they are looking for.

  9. Wow! That was easy! I just set up my TweetDeck in less than five minutes. A quick Google search of TweetDeck brought me straight to my page where I was already logged in and it immediately populated the Home, My Profile, and Notifications columns for me. A helpful and informational tutorial popped up and took a minute or two to review. I then scrolled to the far right where I was able to add a column. This button brought me to a search bar where I typed in #edchat and it populated that column with that hashtag as the header and all of the tweets containing that hashtag below. I then added #edtechchat and it created another column filled with tweets. Such a clean and easy way to manage your Twitter account and view the information you are passionate about!

  10. I think using Twitter is a great resource to use for a PLN. I will use Twitter to find the best new teaching practices for elementary education. I also think it will make finding information on specific topics easier.

  11. I just started following @ClassTechTips. In browsing through her tweets I see many valuable tools that I can use to enhance the use of technology in my classroom. On her account, Monica Burns, offers a variety of podcasts and articles to learn from and many tips that are linked to resources and lessons that can be used on a variety of timely topics. They range from technology integration that teachers can use, like creating interactive bulletin boards, to tools that students can use to enhance their learning, like digital tools to create timelines.

  12. I just created a twitter account and am excited to use it to help with my PLN! My username is @jbrauch7

  13. I could use Twitter to connect with other Family and Consumer Sciences teachers. Many times we are a small group within a school so it would be nice to have resources from others who know the same content area.

    I have not used Twitter in many years so I created a new username @mrscolvey with the hopes of keeping it all education-based and easy to weed out the extra personal accounts I don’t need. I started by following @edublogs and @isteofficial and will do some further exploring to find more.

  14. I think a great way to use Twitter to build my PLN is using it to connect with other educators, especially in my age group. I think Twitter is a great place to hear about other’s experiences and to get some ideas for what you could do in your own classroom.

  15. There are quite a few educators that are linked on the page shown above and loads more on the website itself. Creating a Twitter account specifically for connecting with other educators could be imperative in expanding your educational horizons and finding new and exciting ways of teaching the future and forming connections that could be very useful throughout your career. By using the hashtag search option, you can connect with tons of people and find exactly what you’re looking for with a few strokes of the keyboard. I’ve always considered myself creative and I’d like other people to be able to share in some of the things I’ve learned and thought of over the years. You can connect with like-minded individuals or open yourself up to new ways of thinking; either way, you’re learning and growing with other educators.

  16. One of the most useful aspects of using Twitter or something similar as an educator is the ability to interact with a group of like minded peers from all over the world that one would not have the opportunity to meet in real life. This creates a massive network of perspectives and wisdom that can be accessed at will, and with respect to specific subjects. Not only can Twitter be used to develop new educational strategies, it can also be a great way to further one’s own career to the extent that in today’s world, who one knows is almost as, if not more important than, one’s resume, skills, and abilities. Having references, especially highly regarded and respected professionals, speak on one’s behalf can do wonders for furthering the journey up the educational ladder.

  17. I joined Twitter in the early 2000’s when I was a new mom, who just left the workforce to become the full time care giver of my children. The app was relatively new and I had heard it was a good way to stay in touch with the rest of the adult world while home all the time with babies. I never really understood how to use the platform, so abandoned it. I tried again a last year as a way to stay more connected, having become burned out by facebook. I have been reluctant to use Twitter as I fear that it is becoming a site similar to facebook, consumed with fear and hate mongering, misinformation and endless ads. That being said, I am not opposed to second (third?) chances thinking that my past experience has been dictated by my inexperience at curation and not knowing where to focus my follows, etc. the question is now, is it better to keep the same profile or start fresh? Current profile is @beth_tappen.

  18. Although the page I found isn’t an individual person, I (re-)introduced myself to #DisruptTexts Twitter account! #DisruptTexts is an educational collective and its main goal is to aid/develop teachers committed to anti-racist/anti-bias teaching pedagogy and practices. More recently, they’ve been posting about a live, in-person session they hosted. In one short video, an educator is discussing how so often teachers can become complacent in how the books on their syllabus don’t break away from the traditional literary canon/mold –how it can be difficult to break away. At the same time, this educator is absolutely emphasizing this need to teach diverse, multidimensional books.

  19. The use of Twitter to build a PLN can be greatly beneficial for educators. They are able to follow other educators who produce content that provides various ideas and resources. Having a wide range of new information coming from different sources and areas of expertise can help promote unique teaching approaches and diverse perspectives. 

  20. Though I’ve always resisted creating a Twitter for personal use, I can see the benefits of using one as an educator. I have just created one @mxpenasclass and am looking forward to following other educators.

  21. I made a Twitter account and updated all my information for the upcoming school year. I hope that I can use this to connect with other educators who are willing to help me grow my PLN through similar interests and topics.

  22. https://twitter.com/MrDanielBuck tweets about education from a teacher’s POV, covering issues like school discipline, testing, tracking – is fairly right-of-center; I don’t agree with everything, but it’s important to have a number of points of view

  23. A twitter account I found called “WeAreTeachers” posts some very interesting content for a wide variety of teachers. One post they made had 51 ideas to beat summer boredom for kids. These can be used in the classroom but also by parents at home. They also posted free printable worksheets and coloring sheets that can be easily accessed. Overall the post alot of information and content that can be used by teachers in the classroom.

  24. One account that I found interesting in my search was @thecultofpedagogy. This account posts podcasts, videos, blog posts, and other tips to help educators. They have content on classroom management, instructional strategies, and technology integration easily available to followers. I appreciate how they post intentional content aimed at helping educators improve their practice.

  25. Twitter can be used to build a PLN by creating a digital space for discourse, or for sharing new ideas. Teachers can access creative ideas to implement in their classroom by following fellow teachers or scholars. Teachers can also access discourse that conflicts with their personal method of pedagogy, which may allow for them to realign their teaching style. They may choose to lurk and simply obtain knowledge, or interact with their peers in order to exchange learning.

  26. Twitter is a great place to set up a PLN based on who you follow and what tweets you engage with you can make the social media algorithm work for you and bring related content right to your doorstep and expose you to techniques you might not have heard of before.

  27. If I were to use Twitter to build my PLN I would see what other teachers or people have posted and could use those ideas into a lesson plan. Therefore, if I wanted to have my lesson plan for students to play a game based on a certain topic, and as a teacher not knowing what kind of game or what kinds of things should be taught to students, I think looking over on Twitter using the “hashtag” or some sort of searching that leads to whichever the thing they might be looking for can help them think of ideas to set up or create a game just by combining all ideas and create into one whole idea to set up a game or something that they want to use.

  28. I think twitter is a great tool for educators to connect on, as it prompts discussions similar to a discussion board at times. I have a twitter, though I rarely use it. The handle is @goodeemorgan

  29. One of my favorite twitter accounts belongs to Hank Green. He is popularly known for his work with Crash Course learning and also because he’s the brother of author John Green. He can be found on twitter @hankgreen. Not only is he battling cancer, but he’s absolutely hilarious, but he offers a lot of his knowledge to the general public by answering tweets that include educational information and things we may not be taught in school.

  30. Twitter is a popular social media platform that is widely used by educators and professionals for building and maintaining their Personal Learning Network (PLN). Overall, Twitter can be a powerful tool for connected educators who want to build and maintain a strong PLN. By connecting with others on Twitter, educators can share ideas, resources, and best practices, and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in their field.

  31. After watching this video, I was able to understand how I would go about using twitter to build my PLN. With Twitter, teachers are able to connect and share resources. I would use hastags to access what I am looking for. Teachers are able to connect in new ways. After exploring on Twitter, I will be using it more now as a way to connect, collaborate and stay
    current in my teaching practices.

  32. I will be making a professional twitter to help build and grow my PLN. I plan to follow and make a schedule about sharing regularly so that I stay relevant.

  33. I have had a twitter account for awhile, so it may be time to revisit this social media tool. My name is @lizslavens

  34. I would be able to use Twitter to connect with educators world wide and glean from the information and ideas they have. This in turn can give me new ideas to try in my own classroom so that I can continue to raise the bar in my teaching practices. I already have a PLN through my district but Twitter would give me opportunities to think outside the box by getting ideas from people that are not in the same district or part of the country.

  35. I feel like twitter can be used for so many different purposes, and I can definitely see how teachers could use it to their advantage. It instantly gives teachers potentially huge support networks. Networks that could be used to problem solve, gain support, access new information/ideas, and share your own ideas. Twitter is not something I would ever want to use personally, but I can se the potential benefits of using it in creating PLN’s.

  36. I would use twitter to build PLN because it allows educators to log into others lesson plans, hear about their experiences within those lesson plans, and communicate with those all over the world. Perhaps there are ways one teacher taught the lesson in a better manner than you, or can warn teachers what not to do with that lesson. Twitter allows direct messaging in which your teacher chat can be held and ideas can be sent within that group message.

  37. When I was in school, I used Twitter a lot to stay involved with my county’s public school information as well as my school’s information. It was a way to know what was going on and be involved in the community, especially for school announcements, cancellations, delays, etc. Twitter is a great way to be in contact and involved within the community and get to know other educators like you as well.

  38. I do not have a twitter, and never thought about getting one. This section really opened up my eyes to the benefits of creating an account seem worth it. I am glad that the layout was covered as that was something I was previously scared about.

  39. The way I would use twitter to build my PLN is connecting with other young educators who face the same situations I would run into when starting my teaching career.

  40. I might use twitter as a personal creative / information playground for teachers. I can post ideas of different teachers as well as give credit to hardworking teachers across America. On the flip I can also use my twitter as a way to post current hot topics of education. On twitter there is also a feature where people can talk to one another almost like a podcast. I think having discussions there with different guest speakers would be a fun idea.

  41. I do have twitter and would definitely need to update it before becoming an actual teacher, so please do not actually follow me. I would love to update my image! or even make a new one. Right now if I were to update my twitter in order to make a well done PLN I would rewrite my bio to be more child friendly as well as changing the way I react and post. @99smithing 🙂

  42. I used Twitter when I was a student to stay connected with my school, where they give announcements for delays, snow days, or even cancellations for after-school activities. I never really learned how to use Twitter besides turning on the notifications for announcements about school. Using Twitter is a great way to stay connected with your educators and students. 

  43. @thinkproductive is a twitter account that posts motivational and empowering. Quotes that I can relate to or really speak to me help me keep striving for what I want for myself.

  44. I do not have a lot of social media and was apprehensive about joining Twitter at first, but this convinced me! If anyone would like to follow me, my Twitter is @Ms_RodriguezV.

  45. I’m interested in following @Inclusive_Class. They tweet about a lot of good special education content that I think is really interesting. I love hearing about others experiences in the special education world.

  46. As someone who does not have a twitter, I found this very helpful. My first impression was I didn’t realize how similar the layout is to Facebook. I really appreciate the suggestions of who to follow once I make mine. They are really helpful.

  47. Using Twitter can be very beneficial in different ways. I think that it is an awesome way to share information and to keep in contact with other teachers.

  48. I just made a twitter account. @ThomasRVB if anyone is interested, but I don’t intend to post anything.

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