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.

Conclusion

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.

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

  1. I think Twitter is something that is a social media that I think is used but not in the best way. I also wouldn’t think that educators would use twitter, if they do then they wouldn’t expect anything much that comes out of using Twitter. twitter is an old social media and wouldn’t be expected to be used that much eventually

  2. I love twitter, but as I’ve seen in the comments, it is not a great place all the time. The problem is how many terrible people use twitter to market their bigotry and hate. If you follow those people, you let your students know exactly how bigoted you are! Maybe that’s a good thing, but students shouldn’t feel like their teacher may turn on them in an instant because of their identity.

  3. I found a Twitter account called @edutopia. It gives inspirational messages, as well as links to articles about new research and strategies in the education field.

  4. I think using Twitter and other social media sites can be a great way to connect with others easily. I think the use of the hash tag is something that makes it easier for modern teachers to find others in the same subject area, grade, passions, etc. It gives teachers of all generations ways to find each other and share ideas. However, being in 2023 with Elon Musk’s Twitter, I do hesitate to join, especially being a queer educator. I think that there are dangers to the community he has brought to Twitter and those who use Twitter for hate. I am not sure which outweighs which, the benefits or dangers of 2023 Twitter…

  5. A former educator that I would be interested in following on Twitter would be @heyhopeking. She works with her husband to create unique and creative teaching techniques and activities, and she is now a public speaker that talks to other educators and helps them to diversify their perspectives and teaching strategies. She is most well-known for working at the Ron Clark Academy, and she was popular for her classroom transformations.

  6. I personally believe that Twitter is such an amazing platform for PLN. Twitter provides individuals with a great, and positive way for professionals to connect and interact with each other in multiple ways. Through the social media platform of Twitter, you can connect with professionals in many ways such as using a #, through creating discussions, and creating Q & A posts. Twitter is such a readily and easily accessible, and positive platform and resource all around for professionals and PLNs.

  7. “It’s a place where educators can find advice, give advice, find great links, share work, and engage in general musings about education.” This was mentioned above so I think Twitter is a great way to build your PNL.

  8. I think that using Twitter to connect with other educators is a great idea. One can easily access Twitter and it is easy to navigate and make post. Using Twitter to help bulid a PNL is a great way to get connected and stay connected.

  9. If I were to create a PLN I could use Twitter to start a conversation between educators talking about anything and we could share our own insights and tips on different subjects. Also, we could create a question and answer discussion where we create questions of our own and other educators could answer them.

  10. Someone I would consider following in Twitter is @AntoinetteBanks. She is an expert of IEPs and specializes in special education and I think she could provide a lot of helpful tips!

  11. I found @teachthought on Twitter. They post innovative ideas to help teachers learn and grow in the modern techniques of education.

  12. After browsing Twitter, I found this one page that was positive and uplifting for teachers. This page was called EduTeacherTips. They also have a Youtube page as well where they show multiple videos of their given tips. This page also allows other teachers to comment and share their ideas as well. It is a very positive enviornment and will help me engage with more superior teachers.

  13. After browsing, I found the account @weareteachers, I would follow this account because it is funny and it shows humor from the daily life of a teacher.

  14. I think that if Twitter is used correctly, it can be a great tool to connect with other educators. As for me, I’ve had a Twitter account, but I couldn’t see anything positive from it compared to other social media platforms that I have accounts for. For that reason, I don’t see myself using Twitter in the future, but I don’t mind exploring other platforms that are available.

  15. @TarahTesmer Tweets about a variety of tools to use for your students. For example, implementing dynamic Chromebook tools by using Genially for an explore board or making a recorded video on Microsoft Flip. She also tweets about how to get students to be excited for new assignments or announcements.

  16. I would use Twitter to share my knowledge but also learn knowledge from other educators. There are people from all over the world with different thoughts and ideas on subjects, so this is a way to learn new things from others while also giving knowledge to others.

  17. I’ve come across an engaging Twitter account that I’d like to recommend for educators. It’s @edutopia, and they consistently share insightful content related to innovative teaching methods, classroom strategies, and educational technology. Their tweets often feature practical tips, inspiring stories, and research-based approaches to teaching. Following @edutopia can be an excellent way to stay updated on the latest trends in education and gain valuable ideas for the classroom.

  18. Some ideas I might use Twitter to build my PLN is by asking other teachers for help or their opinions. Another idea I might use is to create a teacher support group if they teach certain subjects. Like for example, I could create a teacher support group for art teachers. So when they run out of lesson plans for a topic or don’t have any ideas that come to mind then another teacher in that field can help them.

  19. An account I found on twitter is @BiscottiNicole. She posts a lot of cool stuff especially things about neurodivergent advocacy!

  20. The video discusses the value of twitter for connecting with a PLN, as well as the importance of using hashtags in doing so. By finding relevant hashtags to your content area, one can more easily find others sharing ideas about their interests, and begin to form their own PLN.

  21. I have created my twitter account and it is @historymslopez I hope all educators who read this feel free to follow. I am currently excited to find more local resources and connections to me but I did follow a few of the suggested accounts from here.

  22. I would recommend that everyone follow @ETFOeducators on twitter. This profile on twitter is a union committed to public education, social justice and equity.

  23. Alec Couros mentioned how Twitter is becoming a great resource for teachers to connect with other educators and I completely agree. One thing from the video that stood out to me was how hashtags have become a great way to connect with others. This is great for educators because if they need to look up something specific they can. For example, if you are a World History teacher, you can search #worldhistoryteachertalk and you will see a bunch of posts from other World History educators. Twitter is a great way to engage with others, but it is important to not just lurk, but also make sure to share your own ideas.

  24. The twitter account I found was called @weareteachers. I liked this account because it has a lot of humor and stories I believe teachers see a lot, and posts content that teachers could use in their classrooms!

  25. After browsing twitter, I would be interested in following @coolcatteacher. She has a lot of beneficial stuff that she posts like “how to help turn a kids day around”, worksheets on how a student can reflect on their learning and her twitter is overall very positive!

  26. While I can see that building a PLN through Twitter can lead you to plethora of other teachers and specialists that one can get ideas from, I will not use Twitter. I have never had a Twitter account and I do not plan to get one. There are many different websites and platforms to go to build a PLN. I don’t see the need to get a Twitter account to build a PLN.

  27. I would start using Twitter to build my PLN by following key educational influencers and organizations in my field of interest. This way, I can stay updated with the latest trends and research. I’d also participate in relevant Twitter chats to engage in conversations with like-minded educators and share my insights.To nurture authentic connections, I’d make an effort to reply to tweets, ask questions, and offer support when needed! Lastly, retweeting valuable content and sharing my own experiences and resources would be part of my strategy.

  28. I’ve had twitter for a while now, but i do not really interact at all in this social media app. I would need to update my photo to a more professional one. I would also start to use twitter more and start following educators. Follow me @JeryleyNeri.

  29. I personally do not use Twitter but I could use Twitter as another tool to engage with other teachers and professionals on topics that I care about. It’s also a helpful too to engage in ongoing discourse on a problem or piece of content.

  30. I really liked the @edutopia account. They tweet about a variety of things, which I appreciate. They have tweets showing innovative ideas teachers had and used in their classrooms, tweets sharing advice for teachers, tweets sharing funny or touching anecdotes from teachers, and tweets sharing research from educational studies. I like this variety because it gives me material and knowledge I can use in my classroom, and also shares relatable stories that make me feel like I am a part of something bigger than my own classroom.

  31. One account I found while browsing twitter that I think would be a good educational resource is @pbsteachers. They tweet about a whole bunch of things from lessons and crafts to do, how to teach about diversity, books that celebrate diversity and cultures, and they also tweet to just do check ins on the people who follow them. Overall they have great resources for educators.

  32. I’m not sure I ever viewed Twitter as the number one platform that I would go to to begin building my PLN, but with further consideration, I think it is a pretty viable option. The ability to post, share, and interact with others through the platform is excellent. I think that sometimes Twitter can be hard to get into, especially if you are trying to find a niche part of the platform (like education). It can take some catering towards in order to get the content you are desiring to find to pop up in your feed, but I think that with the right cultivation, it is possible. I think if I use Twitter in the future, I likely would try to find teacher groups to join in my local area… and go from there by following people, checking out their content and posts, etc.

  33. Twitter is one way for me to connect with other educators. It is not the first platform I would want to use, but I might change my mind about that. It definitely is a space where you would find some educators or what you are specifically looking for.

  34. I think one way to use Twitter to build my PLN is not only by utilizing those hashtags for chats about subjects but also by utilizing them to share projects and lessons that have been done in the classroom.

  35. I have never used twitter before like ever but, the first thing I would do is look at twitter hashtags and groups, to see if there are any teacher groups or just a thread of tweets from teachers around the world. I would then start posting with those hashtags and any other hashtags I can think of that might draw an educator’s attention. From there I would create an account and explain in my bio that I am new and upcoming teacher, who needs advice from other fellow educators. You can tweet anything on twitter, questions, advice, videos, photos, all of which can be seen by the right audience if you target them with the right hashtags. Thats how I would start off, and depending on the response I get, I would go from there, asking for advice, maybe Facebook groups, helpful teacher websites, and anything else I can think of.

  36. I found the Edutopia (@edutopia) account interesting and thought I’d follow them, but as I was browsing the accounts recommended from there I found Principal Project (@PrincipalProj). They seem to share resources created by other educators and educational leaders, and there were a few things I saw just by skimming that I thought may be useful.

  37. What I found interesting about the video “How to Use Twitter Effectively in Education” was that social media has a much larger range of use for educators than I previously thought. Twitter has always been known to me as a source of entertainment and news. As explained in the video, teachers can connect with one another and share their own resources, ideas, and experiences. It is quite simple to set up an additional account and follow other teachers and professionals that post content relating to education and your specific field.

  38. One page/newsletter that I am going to sign up for is Edutopia. This would be a regular educational resource that will help me boost the levels of learning in my classroom.

  39. I’m interested in following and signing up for @edutopia – edut.to/3XX7Trc – a free weekly newsletter. I think it would be great to have an educational resource to check out weekly newsfeeds to learn about trends and studies, learn how other educators are making a difference, and how technology is being used in the classrooms.

  40. After browsing through twitter one account that I thought seemed interesting was @UNESCO which is the twitter account of an organization that is a branch of the United Nations that aims for world peace through education, arts, and culture. They tweet many things that relate to education, arts, and sciences of different countries and cultures.

  41. I have join twitter in the past and did not use it in educational ways so I would need to reboot my page. The images I would put on there would be more professional as well as just using the platform differently in general. I think it would be a beneficial way to connect with other educator and receive help or advice!

  42. Twitter is quite a good platform when you connect with experienced educators. I’ve reached out to a few experts on Twitter and they’ve given some great strategies to tackle unique challenges that I’ve faced in the work place. Great write-up here!

  43. I have updated some things on my Twitter, specifically the accounts I follow. I plan to start posting activities from my classroom and might even create a whole new account dedicated to my classroom. For now, follow me @Koeppem.

  44. I will use Twitter to build my PLN by asking more questions to better my classroom management to fit the needs of all my students. This year, I have some students with behaviors I have not experienced before and I think finding a group of people and asking that question could really help me out. They could pass on their wisdom to me. I could also read through other questions others have asked and see if I could provide them with an answer or see if they answered another questions I had. As I am reading through other posts I am seeing some awesome Twitter handles I need to check out.

  45. I recently updated some things on my Twitter. Follow my account @mallory_rengo to see some of the recent things happening in my 4th grade classroom!

  46. @ClassTechTips

    Monica Burns regularly posts free resources for teachers to use. After considering the barrier of time in Step 2, connecting to Burns’ Twitter page could help teachers find low-prep activities to elevate their classroom. She uses a combination of tweets, blog posts, podcasts, and articles to communicate information. I appreciate the relevant posts based on the time of year so resources can be used immediately in the classroom. Her posts address both the needs of students and of teachers. Monica often incorporates technology into her posts, providing suggestions on how to effectively use new resources, such as AI, in the classroom.

  47. After listening to both speakers I learned knew things about twitter that I was unaware of! I actually have never used the platform before so all info was pertinent.
    -Katinah

  48. @DieudonneJ8361
    I must admit that I had a Twitter account for a long time, but I was not very interested in using it. But today, the explanations I have just received on the importance of Twitter and the multiple opportunities for learning, sharing, and collaboration that are offered, give me a strong desire to explore it. So, I just created a new account to make a fresh start with new goals.
    Watching the videos of reflections on the effective use of Twitter In Education with Alec Couros and the Common Sense Education video on Getting Started With Twitter, I think is a great tool to connect with other people and develop useful collaborations; it is a good tool for sharing information and a rich search engine for multiple resources.
    @Catlin_Tucker, as part of the exercise, I just tried to follow Catlin Tucker who posed the question on how to help your students gain confidence in their choice-making abilities by using a ‘would you rather’.
    In terms of impression, I think Twitter is a great tool to connect with professionals and discover the opportunities this tool can offer. However, it will take time to learn to discover and master it.

  49. @jordanbpeterson
    @joerogan
    These are two of my favorite people to follow. They offer a variety of commentary on todays world, have interesting guests, and don’t always agree with those guests which makes they’re posts and vlogs interesting and more real.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *