Twitter for Beginners: Hashtags and Handles and Tweets, Oh My!

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Melissa brownby Melissa Brown
@MsMelissaBrown

In an age of Starbucks-esque choices (venti iced caramel macchiato, sub soy milk, no whipped cream, easy on the vanilla), it’s hard to choose how to engage in a professional network. Between all of the social media outlets out there: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Vine, Tinder (wait, what? Just kidding!), LinkedIn, Blogger, YouTube, and Pinterest (just to name a few), how do you choose a venue to house said professional network? WHERE DO YOU EVEN START?!

I love Twitter. When I started Twitter, I already had a Facebook account so I really had no need for a new personal social media name and password to remember. After my account sat for a few years, I attended a MACUL session by Erin Klein, an elementary teacher and avid Twitter user (by “avid” I mean this lady has almost 63,000 followers!). She Twitter-gized me!

Erin showed me that there are so many discussions, networking opportunities, and ideas on Twitter to engage students. Educators are sharing these resources every day, many times a day.

The basic idea: you send out messages, or Tweets, to all of your followers (similar to ‘friends’, to use Facebook terms) that are 140 characters or less. You can “file” these ideas so that different subjects, philosophies, or any type of group Tweets can be easily accessed.

Here are 5 tips to get started with Twitter:

1. Choose a username that is close to your actual name

Using your name gives you the flexibility for it to change with your career. If you choose something like @3rdGradeTeacher, just hope that you continue to teach 3rd grade. For all eternity.

2. Get familiar with the lingo

Tweet, hashtag, followers, Direct Message, header photo; ‘speaking Twitter’ is like trying to decipher what a toddler is saying while they’re shoving a toy in your face. Super overwhelming. This Twitter glossary is a good start to understanding the language.

3. Download the Twitter app on your phone

It’s much easier to Tweet out something at the moment you’re inspired! Maybe you’ll be at an assembly, a conference, or with students in class and want to share your moment. It’s good to have Twitter handy (pun, of course, intended).

4. Check out a Twitter chat

Generally speaking, different networks host chats. They pose questions and participants answer using a particular hashtag (or ‘file folder’, so to speak) for all of their Tweets so that people are able to follow the entire chat. Here is a list of chats in which to partake. You could start off by just observing a chat.

5. Don’t be afraid to Tweet

Social media can be intimidating. But trust me, people tweet things that are much dumber than you could ever imagine. Be brave! Maybe start by Tweeting out some cool stuff you’re doing with students and/or staff at your building(s). If you’re still shy, check out some hashtags to give you ideas on what to Tweet.

Twitter is a fantastic way to meet educators all over your district, county, state, country, and even world. These educators are doing innovative and engaging activities and projects with students, staff, parents, and administration.

Happy Tweeting!

Melissa Brown is currently a Resource Room Teacher at Walnut Creek Middle School in Walled Lake Consolidated Schools. She lives in West Bloomfield with her wife, Sherrie, and they spend their time chasing around their two year old son, Rockwell, and their dog, Polar. You can find her on Twitter @MsMelissaBrown.

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