Getting connected professionally on Twitter was the single most important, most powerful thing I ever did as an educator.
The most important. I’m not overstating that.
And I can remember exactly when it happened. I was at the Indiana Conference on Learning in Indianapolis, and our state Superintendent of Public Instruction was giving the keynote speech.
I noticed that the conference had a Twitter hashtag and my curiosity was piqued. I was one of those “I have a Twitter account … I think … if I can only remember the password” kind of people.
I checked it out and found this silent live discussion of the keynote speaker’s ideas. Educators in the room were tweeting about what they were hearing.
I was hooked. I started tweeting my thoughts, too … and when someone replied to my tweets or retweeted them, it was like a jolt of adrenaline. What I was writing was resonating with someone!
It continued that way for the rest of the conference. When I attended a break-out session, I kept one eye on the conference hashtag. It was almost as if I was sitting in on all of the sessions with teachers tweeting out what they were learning.
My eyes were opened to a world I didn’t know existed.
Then I learned of other hashtags, other people to follow. I learned more from Twitter that year than I had learned in the sum total of my professional learning to that point.
If you don’t do Twitter professionally, here are a couple of things to know about it:
- Twitter is like an ever-flowing stream of ideas and inspiration. Visit the river of Twitter as often as you’d like. Dip your toe in for a few minutes. Jump in and swim around for an hour. Either way, you’ll come away a better professional.
- Using Twitter as an educator is kind of like shopping at Big Lots. Big Lots is known for having lots of random merchandise. You never know what you’ll find when you shop at a Big Lots, but when you find it, you’ll wonder how you lived your life without it.
Twitter can feel a bit like a different planet where people speak a different language at first. If you’d like some help with the basics, check out my Twitter for Teachers guide at DitchThatTextbook.com/twitter.
The key to a great Twitter experience is in who you follow and what hashtags you check out. (Hashtags are kind of like searchable keywords or categories. If Twitter was like a big filing cabinet, a hashtag is a folder you use to organize.) Here’s a video I created to explain how hashtags work.
So, who should you follow? What hashtags should you check out? I’ve pulled together a list of the ones that have inspired me. Click on them to see what they’re all about. If that person seems like a good fit, follow him or her. If the hashtag is interesting, come back to check on it from time to time.
(Disclaimer: This is today’s list. There are so many great educators and hashtags out there that it can’t be an all-inclusive list. If I did this again tomorrow, there would likely be others I’d include.)
Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Jeff Charbonneau (@JeffCharbonneau) — The 2013 U.S. National Teacher of the Year. He’s a science teacher that constantly inspires me by helping refocus what we do in the classroom.
2. Alice Keeler (@alicekeeler) — She’s a go-to source for all things Google, especially Google Classroom (a topic on which she’s co-authored two books). Alice is never afraid to let you know in which direction education should head, and she participates in the conversation.
4. Jennifer Gonzalez (@cultofpedagogy) — The slogan of her blog, Cult of Pedagogy, says it all: “Teacher nerds, unite.” A National Board Certified Teacher, Jenn is always helping educators think more deeply about the craft of teaching and learning. (Her Pinterest and Facebook pages rock, too.)
5. Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) — Dave’s enthusiasm and passion are contagious. He wrote the New York Times bestseller Teach Like a PIRATE and does keynote presentations that will knock your socks off. His tweets will do the same!
6. Shelley Burgess (@burgess_shelley) — Shelley is Dave’s wife and business partner. A former assistant superintendent, she’s now inspiring school leaders to “Lead Like a PIRATE” with presentations and through her blog.
7. Michael Matera (@mrmatera) — Michael is a video game aficionado like me, but he takes it to a different level. Michael is, as his Twitter profile suggests, a “game based learning and gamification sherpa”. If you want game elements in your classroom, he’s full of ideas.
8. Don Wettrick (@DonWettrick) — Don is constantly reinventing what school can do. His Innovations class encourages students to do real-life work they’re passionate about. His book, Pure Genius, helps teachers make their classes more relevant to their students’ future.
9. John Spencer (@spencerideas) — John’s a deep thinker when it comes to education. His blog, Education Rethink (now at spencerauthor.com), was one of the first education blogs I followed. His writings on creativity and design thinking always make me think.
10. Scott McLeod (@mcleod) — Have you seen those “Shift Happens” videos on YouTube? (Here’s one of them.) Scott worked with Karl Fisch to create them. His profile aptly describes him as an idea generator, solution builder, agitator and catalyst.
12. Edutopia (@edutopia) — Edutopia is funded by the George Lucas Foundation and is committed to providing “inspiration and information for what works in education.” There’s always good stuff being shared by Edutopia through Twitter and on their website.
13. Monica Burns (@ClassTechTips) — Monica is well known for her EdTech presentations and her practical blog, ClassTechTips.com. If you’re looking for ideas you can use in class right away, this is a good place to go!
14. Rick Wormeli (@RickWormeli2) — He’s a brilliant educator and thinker on a variety of topics, including middle-grades education and standards-based learning. He’ll make you rethink your view of education down to the core. (That’s a good thing.)
15. MindShift (@MindShiftKQED) — MindShift KQED is a public media organization that “explores the future of learning, covering cultural and tech trends and innovations in education.” The articles on their blog always fascinate me.
16. Karly Moura (@KarlyMoura) — Karly’s a rising, shining star in the edu-Twitterverse. One of the most helpful people I’ve found on Twitter, she’s constantly providing ideas regarding Google tools, Hyperdocs, makerspaces and more. Her blog is great, too.
18. Jed Dearybury (@mrdearybury1) — Jed spreads his sparkle all over social media and his blog. He’s passionate about creativity, the arts and making students feel valued. His mantra: “Love first, teach second.”
19. Dyane Smokorowski (@mrs_smoke) — Saying that Dyane is a global collaboration evangelist (as she does in her Twitter profile) is an understatement. She’s a Skype Master Teacher and former Kansas state teacher of the year that’s constantly encouraging more connected classrooms.
20. Lucy Gray (@elemenous) — Lucy is the co-founder of GlobalEdCon, a virtual global education organization. Follow her for ideas and resources for helping your students become more globally minded.
22. Justin Birckbichler (@Mr_B_Teacher) — Justin is Mari Venturino’s “partner in crime” in many ways. They’re both Google for Education Certified Innovators. They’re two-thirds of the “EduRoadTrip” podcast with Greg Bagby. They both created BreakoutEDU. Justin’s blog will make you think.
23. Jon Corippo (@jcorippo) — Alice Keeler (on this list earlier) called Jon “Obi Wan Corippo”, and for good reason. Jon’s vision for education really breaks the mold. It seems that everything he says makes me envision better classrooms and lessons.
24. Sarah Thomas (@sarahdateechur) — Sarah created #EduMatch to get educators connected with each other. She’s very active on Twitter and is constantly sharing her story and advocating for worth causes in education. She’ll inspire you.
25. Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) — Bill is a full-time sixth-grade teacher in North Carolina. His classes are anything but the norm. He inspires educators all over with his infopics, infographics and thought-provoking visuals on his Flickr page.
26. Sandy Otto (@sandyrotto) — If you’re passionate about reading and helping students speak and listen better, you’ll love following Sandy. She loves incorporating technology into her language arts classes in Minnesota and blogs about it all.
27. Sean Fahey (@SEANJFAHEY) — Sean was a teacher in my school district when I first met him. He continues to incorporate technology in innovative ways in his fourth-grade classes and shares about it in his blog.
28. Beth Houf (@BethHouf) — Along with Shelley Burgess, Beth is half of the “Lead Like a PIRATE” movement. She’s a middle school principal that’s leading a school I’d love to teach at. She blogs about being a school leader.
29. David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) — It seems like everything that comes out of David’s mouth (or Twitter account) inspires. He’s a voice that really gets what education should be and what school can become.
30. Joy Kirr (@JoyKirr) — Joy’s enthusiasm and energy are contagious. She’s a seventh-grade English/langauge arts teacher who embraces Genius Hour and throwing out grades.
31. Carrie Baughcum (@HeckAwesome) — Aside from her creative Twitter handle, I love Carrie’s emotion and love of teaching. She’s a fellow sketchnoter, and she’s a special education teacher. There aren’t many as caring in education as Carrie is.
32. Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth) — Sylvia is best known for her sketchnotes, which are always carefully drawn and on point. She has published a book of them with EdTechTeam Press. She’s a brilliant teacher with a passion for technology, Google and world languages.
33. Todd Whitaker (@ToddWhitaker) — Todd has written 40 books on leadership, teaching and motivation. But he shares great nuggets of wisdom on a regular basis on Twitter. (Plus, he’s a “neighbor” … living an hour away from my home in Indiana!)
34. Amy Heavin (@AmyHeavin) — I love Amy’s perspective on being a school leader and keeping the work/family balance. I learn from her as an educator and feel like I know her as a person more and more as I read her blog.
36. Tisha Richmond (@tishrich) — Tisha is doing something in education right now that I love: bringing gamification into her culinary arts classes. She’s an energetic, cheerful teacher that you’ll love.
37. #edchat — This educational hashtag has probably been around the longest. It’s an ongoing discussion about important issues in the general educational world. (Twitter chat: Tuesdays at noon Eastern / 9 a.m. Pacific)
38. #edtech — You’ll find all sorts of discussions, resources and ideas regarding technology in the classroom on this Twitter hashtag.
39. #whatisschool — As the needs of students change while this world changes quickly, school needs to keep up. This chat talks about the big-picture issues with staying relevant to kids. (Twitter chat: Thursdays at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific)
40. #edtechchat — Another hashtag about using technology efficiently and effectively in the classroom. The weekly Twitter chat is often lively and full of ideas. (Twitter chat: Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern / 5 p.m. Pacific)
41. #tlap — TLAP stands for Teach Like a PIRATE, the wonderful book by the aforementioned Dave Burgess. This hashtag will encourage you with ideas and inspiration related to bringing passion, enthusiasm and engagement into the classroom. (Twitter chat: Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern / 6 p.m. Pacific)
42. #ditchbook — Shameless self-promotion here. At this hashtag, we talk about what teaching with less reliance on the textbook looks like. We’re always sharing ideas related to technology, creativity and innovation. (Twitter chat: Thursdays at 10 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. Pacific)
43. #tosachat — This is the digital gathering of TOSAs (teachers on special assignment), but educators of all walks will find it helpful. This hashtag will equip you to lead other teachers and try innovative ideas in your classroom. (Twitter chat: Mondays at 11 p.m. Eastern / 8 p.m. Pacific)
44. #weirded — This hashtag, led by the incomparable Doug Robertson, is quite possibly the most unique, irreverent educational community on Twitter. They always take a fun twist on educational topics and keep people smiling. (Twitter chat: Wednesday at 10 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. Pacific)
45. #googleedu — The official Google for Education hashtag. Educators share ideas related to using Google tools in the classroom here.
46. #gafesummit — GAFE Summits are hosted by the EdTechTeam all over the world. The hashtag for their events always generates great ideas.
47. #gafe4littles — Some teachers believe that Google Apps aren’t for young students. Christine Pinto disagrees! She’s a kindergarten teacher whose students do lots of creating using them and Google Classroom. You’ll find great ideas in this hashtag.
48. #hyperdocs — Hyperdocs are these great interactive digital activities that students can do independently. They were created by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton and Sarah Landis. The hashtag is full of creative Hyperdocs creations by teachers all over the world.
49. #edumatch — Sarah Thomas (mentioned above) and others get like-minded educators connected through this hashtag. They always have lots of fun doing it, too! (Twitter chat: Sundays at 6 p.m. Eastern / 3 p.m. Pacific)
50. Your state’s hashtag — Pretty much every state has a Twitter hashtag (although some are more active than others). Find your state’s hashtag in this spreadsheet. Plus, be sure to look for a hashtag related to your grade level or content area, too!
[reminder]What other people and hashtags deserve to be on this list?[/reminder]
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