I have been an on-and-off Twitter user since 2012. I joined the Twitter-verse for a Spanish 20 project where we had to compose tweets in Spanish to demonstrate our comprehension of the language. At that point, I was a relatively active Twitter user, but by the time I hit my mid-twenties, I mostly stopped using it on a regular basis.
I started using Twitter again after I got my first teaching contract in 2018 so I could interact with other teachers and stay up to date on the world of education. Again, I wouldn’t say I was the most active and I was never able to amass any sort of large following, but I did enjoy composing the semi-regular tweet to highlight my classroom space and to see what other educators were doing. I found this particularly useful in my first year of teaching since (as I am sure we all know) I was just trying to keep my head above water and any advice was valuable to me.
It wasn’t until 2020 that I became a chronic Twitter-user – to clarify, a chronic Twitter-scroller mostly. The Covid-19 pandemic was a large factor in this. I found myself staying up until the wee hours of the morning doomscrolling on Twitter then the killing of George Floyd occurred and the scrolling only got more intense.
At this time, I wasn’t tweeting all that much, but man did I spend a lot of time on the app. So eventually, I forced myself to take a break from the Twitter world.
I didn’t make my grand (the second if you’re counting) return until 2021 when schools reopened. I again tried to maintain some sort of presence on the platform and even received a thank you from admin for highlighting the school in a positive manner. This, however, made me somewhat responsible for tweeting about school events I would be at. On quite a few occasions, I’d get an email saying something along the lines of:
Hey Mariah, can you tweet about career day? Don’t forget to add some pictures.
I did ask if this included a raise, but alas, it did not. And I would say this is where I am now. I would say I identify as a semi-regular Twitter user with a lacklustre following. There is a reason that I have always returned to the platform and it is because of the connections.
The beauty of Twitter is global connectivity. Users are able to interact with a vast network of professional and like-minded people and this is what I have found to be the most beneficial. I follow a number of accounts that regularly Tweet content that is connected to the field of education:
It is through these accounts that I have been introduced to a wide variety of different pedagogical approaches that were absent throughout my undergraduate studies. Organization Facing History has helped me create lessons and units that dispel bigotry and hate while DiscoveryEd has taught me numerous (and I mean numerous) lessons through their weekly EdTech News Roundup:
📚 What will high schoolers be learning in 2033?
🍎 ESSER endgame
💻 5 edtech trends shaping education
✨ And more!
— Discovery Education (@DiscoveryEd) May 30, 2023
Beyond actual teaching practices, Twitter has also calmed me down too many times to count. A bit ironic I’d say since I am known for having to take a break from the platform because of doomscrolling, but that’s neither here nor there. While I love my family, friends, and partner dearly, sometimes they just don’t understand how draining the job can be at times, but the Twitterverse is home to a number of educators that fully and wholeheartedly understand where I am coming from and this has saved me more times than I can count. While I follow a number of people I find Brad Johnson to be a big saving grace throughout my career. Daily, he is providing uplifting, and sometimes not so uplifting but realistic tweets about the field, which I have found keep me sane:
This is the time of year where it is worth remembering that some days, success is simply surviving the day!
— 𝐁𝐫𝐚𝐝 𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐧𝐬𝐨𝐧 (@DrBradJohnson) May 18, 2023
Teachers, Don’t be discouraged if you do things differently than others. It’s ok to learn from others but don’t think you’re wrong if you do it differently. Everyone has their own talents & passions. Just bring your best self. That's what your students need.
— 𝐁𝐫𝐚𝐝 𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐧𝐬𝐨𝐧 (@DrBradJohnson) May 17, 2023
Over the coming years, my main goal is to develop my PLN using platforms like Twitter.
With the classroom changing every single day, I feel that platforms like Twitter are one of the few places where I can stay up-to-date and relevant as a teacher. I think we have reached a point where we can no longer pretend like social media doesn’t exist and having a presence as a teacher not only helps build relationships with students, but it most certainly translates into a classroom that more accurately reflects the realities of the 21st century.
In your post this week, please reflect on your experiences with Twitter thus far. If you already used Twitter prior to this class, talk about how you have used it. If you’ve just started using it, think about what Twitter might look like in your future classroom or as a professional development tool. In what ways do you find Twitter to be a useful/not useful tool? If you are a reluctant user, tell us why! If you have participated in a Twitter chat, you can reflect on that process as well.