During my time at the annual conference of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), I was inspired…partly by learning leaders I admire who have leveraged technology tools and social media for the betterment of their schools and themselves as leaders. However, the inspiration for my next several blog posts comes from the abundance of new Twitter accounts I saw surface during/as a result of the conversation at the conference. To my new Tweeps, this is for you!
Chances are if you are reading this post, you are already somewhat interested in joining the Twitter community. Maybe you’ve heard about it from friends. Perhaps you’ve seen the official hash tags at sports events (how I got interested) or at professional conferences. Maybe your child’s school uses Twitter. Regardless of what got you here, you are looking, and I assume you’d like to know more.
Twitter serves a number of purposes for the professional educator and just the human being in general. If you’re thinking about joining the Twitter conversation but you need a little more convincing, here are some compelling reasons to get started:
1. Free Professional Learning
One of my favorite author/presenters, and now one of my favorite “Tweeps” (combination Twitter and peeps), @ToddWhitaker, recently said “Every school leader should be on Twitter. It is the very best free professional development you’ll ever find.” He is right. On Twitter, you can follow colleagues like you and colleagues who do things related to what you do, and you can see their comments, learn their thoughts, and benefit from the links they post to articles they like or blog posts they have written. One click can open the door to a host of enriching information.
2. Sharing Ideas and Getting Feedback
Have a great idea that has been swimming around in your head a while? Throw it out there on Twitter and see what your followers have to say about it. Send a direct message to someone whose opinion you would value. I’ll bet you get a response. NASSP Digital Principal Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) often says “Together we are better.” Even the most skilled, recognized professionals like Eric and Todd are interested in what newbies like you and I (in my second month with a personal Twitter account) have to say. We are on Twitter because we want to help others learn and grow AND because we want to learn from YOU.
3. Telling Your Story
If you haven’t considered starting a school account, do it now. I’ve had one for two years. It is separate from my personal account, and for the past two years, our office staff (assistant principals, my secretary, and I) have used our @TimberviewMS account primarily for notifications, good news, and reminders. That’s a starting place, and it’s a good one. Our next step is to interact with our community via chats. If you want to see a good example of that, check out NASSP Digital Principal Patrick Larkin’s (@bhsprincipal) #bhschat. You’ll see parents, teachers, students, and community get involved in the conversation. Twitter is a valuable two-way communication tool, and it helps you make connections you likely would not otherwise make.
The other important thing to know is social media is alive and well, whether you’re involved or not. People are talking about your “brand.” Now you can let their stories tell the tale…and maybe it will be a good story; maybe it will not. The only way you can make sure the good news gets out there is if you put it out there.
4. Personal Reflection Tool
This has quickly become one of my favorite uses of Twitter. In the NASSP conference I recently attended (@NASSP, official hash tag #NASSP2012 if you want to check it out), I used Twitter to share out my key learnings with others who were unable to attend the conference. In addition to sharing, I also have my tweets to review now that I’m home so I can reconnect with the gems of learning the fabulous leaders at the conference shared. This beats taking notes any day in my book!
In addition to reflecting on professional learnings, I use tweets to share out reflections from church or just to share my thoughts on everyday life. I imagine there will be an increased occurrence of sports-related tweets from my account as we move into March Madness. Twitter is not just for learning; it can be fun too!
I will not claim to be the world’s foremost expert on Twitter; there are many other ideas about the benefits of this tool. Maybe you have an idea you’d like to share. Please respond to this post with your ideas and/or feel free to share your thoughts with me on Twitter @jackson_carrie. I look forward to sharing and learning with you!