I recently read a poignant blog post by Chris Lehmann, founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, amusingly titled “I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Twatching Me.”
In it, Lehmann recalls reaching out to one of his students after he’d noticed a lot of negative posts on her Twitter account.
Toward the end, he writes: “The kids love to tease me that I’m twatching them, but at its best, doing a quick skim of what kids are thinking and feeling allows me to care for them and approach them when they don’t even know they need it.” In short, Twitter helps Lehmann do his job better.
His post got me thinking about how great Twitter is as a resource for educators. It can bridge the gap between educator and student, make teachers more accessible and approachable, and help foster friendlier, more open relationships altogether.
Personally, I would have been thrilled if my teacher had given us his or her Twitter handle. It would have showed me immediately that they were truly interested in, and dedicated to, their students (not to mention, it would have solidified them as the “cool” teacher). It also would have made logistical things, like asking for help with homework, so much easier.
Moreover, Twitter also has huge benefits for you personally as an educator. There is a massive cohort of educators who are active on Twitter
, so it’s truly a wellspring of meaningful connection. And because Twitter is decidedly the social network for news, expertise and authority, following the right people means you’ll be continually up to date on the latest news and happenings in the world– education related and otherwise– all of it neatly aggregated into one feed (that you can conveniently organize into lists
If you’re not sure who to follow– don’t worry– here’s an easy trick: Search for people you respect and follow them, then look at who they are following and follow those people. Over time, you’ll shape your following list into a comprehensive, beneficial resource.
To those educators who are still hesitant to try out Twitter, I’d say: remember that you have a myriad of privacy controls at your disposal. If you want to use Twitter as a professional resource only, rather than for student interaction, you can always set your account to private, and vice versa: if a student doesn’t want his or her teacher to follow them, they can set their account to private. Another way to separate your personal and professional lives would be to create two accounts: one for yourself, another for your students.
The idea of “twatching” your students may seem foreign, but don’t let that discourage you from Twitter altogether. After all, as Lehmann’s post shows, Twitter can help teachers be more sensitive and caring, and it can certainly keep you educated and in the know. Give it a try. You, and your students, will be happy you did.
Do you use Twitter as an educator? What’s your favorite aspect of the social network?
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