Um So Like OK – Twitter Can Be Kinda Like High School But Then Not Really

I’ll admit it, when I first joined Twitter as an educator, meaning to connect with other teachers and not stalk celebrities, I was terrified.  Thoughts of “Will they like me?” “Will they be  my friend” “Will they ask me to join the conversation?” haunted my days as I tried to maneuver through the Twitter world.  People just seemed to know each other, to have inside jokes, and ongoing conversations that just seemed, well, closed to people like me.

Flash back to the one year I did in an American high school, super geeky awkward me trying desperately to fit in with all the cool kids hoping that being foreign would at least give me some street cred.  Yeah not so much when you look like a boy with a penchant for hawaiian shirts and bowl cuts.  Fast forward to joining Twitter and terrible clich├ęs of standing in the lunch room holding my tray hoping someone would take pity over me and you can see where I am going with this blog post.

Except, I am not.  Twitter isn’t like high school but it certainly would be convenient if it were.  If this were high school I could whine about people not talking to me or being unpopular because in high school it did really seem like it was out my control.  But on Twitter, not so much.

You see Twitter is what you make it.  If you want to join a conversation, jump in.  No one has to invite you, no one has to scoot over to make room for you, just start tweeting.    If you want to join a group, ask to join, no more initiation or introductions needed from a cool kid.  And if you can’t find a group that fits you; start your own.

Twitter doesn’t care if you are having a bad hair day, which I happen to have a lot of.  Twitter doesn’t care if you have stains all over your shirt from your 2 year old daughter giving you hugs.  Twitter doesn’t care who you are friends with or all the geeky obsessions you may have.  Twitter doesn’t care.  And neither do the people you connect with, except perhaps in a good way.

So from this awkward ex teen to the next, don’t be fooled into thinking that Twitter is like high school.  That is just too easy to say.  Instead jump in, sit down to someone and start a conversation and be patient.  We are all just trying to help each other out.

being a teacher, love, twitter

#WhyILoveTeaching is Born

Last night as Justin Bieber played through my speakers (my daughter and I were having a dance party), I tweeted this

And with that a new little hashtag was born.  I tweeted a couple of more reasons and then others started to join in.  These weren’t the big reasons like we change lives or what we do matter every day.  We always talk about those things,.  These were all those extra little reasons that teaching is an incredible job.  That teaching matters.

So I challenge you, send out a tweet explaining why you love teaching – the goofy reasons why, the little things we forget to discuss and use the hashtag #WhyILoveTeaching.  To see the positivity in the little things, to hear how amazing our job is, now that is something to remember.

Here a couple of my favorites:


So if you have a moment, check the stream out and then add your own.  I can’t wait to hear why you love teaching.


The Case Against the "Thanks for the RT"

Twitter logo initialImage via WikipediaFor some who are not on Twitter this post may bear no meaning to your life.  But for others who like myself use Twitter every day for professional development, I pose a question: do we really need to thank someone for retweeting a post?  You see, it is not that I am lazy, forgetful, or ungrateful when some decides to resend out something I have posted.  In fact, often I reach out to people to thank them for reading or leaving a comment.  But the “Thanks for the rt” post that I am bound and destined by some Twitter etiquette – well, I am over it.

I get that people on Twitter are trying to mimic real life; when someone passes something for you, you thank them.  And yet Twitter is not real life in that sense; I am not running to Canada to personally thank a friend every time they tweet out something of mine.  So instead we try to thank them with an inane statement that does nothing to bridge communication.  Does anyone ever write back “You’re welcome?”  Does anyone do anything more than skim the thanks for the rt?  I know we all want to be noticed and I know we all want to be thanked for our contributions on Twitter, but let’s thank in a different manner.  Let’s really thank people instead of taking the easy way out of the canned statement.  If you really do appreciate someone sent your post out, well, then tell them that.  Or don’t.  At some point there just is no keeping up with it.  Some of the people who write many posts a week probably have no way of thanking everyone, and I think that is ok.  I don’t think we need to bash people for not saying thanks.  I think we need to let this part of Twitter go.  Yes, it is nice to be thanked, but when it is a hollow oft-repeated statement then what is really the point.

So I will say it now; thank you for always resending my posts.  I notice and I appreciate it.  I apologize if I do not thank you that day but sometimes I forget and other times I don’t have time.  And I think that is ok, do you?

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connect, PLN, twitter

A Not So Delusional Guide to Twitter

I have read so many posts on how to get on Twitter and get connected, many of them offer fantastic advice and yet some of them keep reiterating how it is all about following.  Follow one person, and then see who they follow, and then follow them, and soon you will be following so many people you will feel like the most popular kid in the school.  Except you don’t.  Instead you feel like the kid who came to prom only to take pictures of all the cool people there.  So I offer up these tips instead for those trying to figure out Twitter.

  1. Follow one person, or even 10 but then stop.  Let yourself process what Twitter is and how these people are using the tool.  Don’t mass follow, you will find enough people to follow, just take your time.
  2. Connect.  Once you have a couple of people you follow, reach out to them.  Tell them you are new, tell them your story, and comment on their blogs.  Open up about yourself, start a conversation, and give them a reason to connect back.
  3. Don’t give up.  Sometimes I felt like the biggest loser when it came to Twitter; no one thought I was witty, no one rt’ed my posts, until I realized that this is not what Twitter is about.  Twitter is about the connections (I know, I sound like a broken record) so it is not about the retweets or single comments but the dialogue you get involved in and the people you meet.
  4. Who cares about Klout?  I didn’t realize I had a klout number until my husband asked me what it was.  Then I had to look it up because that little number meant nothing to me; it still doesn’t.  If you are asking whether Twitter is worth your time you probably haven’t connected with the right people, so keep connecting.
  5. Don’t worry about the popular kids.  One thing for ongoing discussion has been the grades of popularity Twitter educators seem to have.  Sure there are people with massive followings, but guess what?  They are normal people and they probably have that many followers because they say some really great things and they are good at connecting with others.  It is okay to reach out to them as well, no one is off limits.

So there you have it, my small piece of advice on how to get something out of Twitter.  Of course, you can follow as many people as you want, but think about what your true goal is: numbers or connections?  I for one count my connections just as much as I count my blessings.

answers, assumptions, balance, being a teacher, twitter

Is Twitter a Cop Out?

I am a Twitter fanatic, if you ask anyone, in particular my husband, they will tell you how often I quote something that I learned abut from this social media or how this or that idea came from there. Twitter has enriched my life in ways that I would never imagined when I first signed on a few years ago. In fact, Twitter has radically changed the way I teach and the way I think. Not bad for 140 characters.

As I get more involved with Twitter and the people that I connect with though, I am starting to wonder whether Twitter to me has become the ultimate cop out? By reaching out through the internet, limiting myself mostly to blog posts (which are pretty one-sided) and 140 character tweets, am I shutting off real face-to-face collaboration? You see Twitter doesn’t talk back all that much or go to the teacher’s lounge and roll its eyes. Twitter doesn’t go to your principal laughing at the new hare-brained idea that was just presented. In short, Twitter doesn’t make me take a risk. If I offer up an idea I seldom get negative feedback, instead some people take the time to praise it and often comment. I do the same for others, in fact, I hardly ever discuss something in negative terms unless everyone else is. So Twitter becomes the ultimate safety net where we are not forced out of our comfort zones but instead selectively choose who we care to share with and listen to. But I wonder whether that is “real life?” Or does it even need to be?

It struck me today as I read one of my student’s blog posts about what was missing in 4th grade. Her comment was that she wished we did more with the other 4th grade classes. And she is so right; that is missing from this year. And not because we don’t want to, the initiative just never gets taken. Instead we create global connections which have been incredible parts of our school year, yet perhaps we forgot about our local connection in the bigger picture. bAnd yet it is those local connections that radically determine our day, it is those local connections that see all our flaws and strengths, that see us grow without a lens. Those people that can have the most profound effect on us.

At school when I have an idea I have to find people willing to participate in it, someone whom I trust enough to listen to me and who will then weigh their options. I have to make my case and put myself out there for possible rejection, and it hurts when something gets shot down. Yet it is through these awkward moments of self-selling that we become bigger people and a tighter knit school community. Let’s face it, it takes real courage to speak up at a staff meeting surrounded by your everyday peers. Does it take courage to speak up on Twitter?

So I guess I leave you with this question; has Twitter strengthened your local relationships as well or has it made it easier for you to forget about them? Are we all, in fact, just hiding behind our computers waiting for someone like-minded to come and find us? I am not sure anymore.