To Tweet or Not to Tweet: The Teacher Dilemma
With the new school year upon us, I’m forced to finally decide, to tweet or not to tweet? That is this teacher’s question. I’ve been putting off the decision for a few school years now citing all kinds of excuses. But now, I must pick a side. Am I a teacher who tweets or not? I’m going to lay out my pros and cons, but I would really like to hear from you! Do you tweet to your students? How has it gone? Are there positive or negative factors that I’m overlooking? Are you considering making the move to the twitterverse? Help me!
The Pro Side of a Teacher Twitter:
- It is so easy. All you have to do is sign up and start tweeting. It’s an intuitive, simple way to get out all kinds of information including reminders about big tests, homework, fun facts, and other information. Check out my sample tweets in the picture above for ideas for using twitter with students. (Note: That is not a real twitter handle, so please don’t follow it I have a colleague who uses twitter primarily to record the homework and kids absolutely love it. When they are absent or forgot to write it down, all they have to do is check twitter.
- It’s an opportunity to meet them where they are. Show your students that you value their cultural capital in the social media world or in the very least earn some street cred with the use of twitter. Meeting students in a comfortable space can open doors with even the least motivated among them.
- It’s open to students and parents. More and more of my students’ parents are on twitter and love to follow my colleagues so they get a better sense of what’s going on in that class with small, manageable, regular glimpses. Teenagers are not known for their stellar communication skills so a teacher twitter can keep a parent in the loop without the long conferences.
- It’s an opportunity for lessons about digital citizenship. Think of all of the teachable moments about communication in a digital world! Using twitter with students can open up the dialogue about how to write concisely while maintaining clarity and credibility. You can also talk how to respond to tweets using the person’s name and other conventions of polite conversation. Another really important conversation that I think more students need to hear surrounds the public permanence of images and words put on the internet. It is becoming commonplace for colleges and employers to read the online history of applicants, which can be a scary prospect for a 13 year old who tweets first and asks questions later.
The Con Side of a Teacher Twitter:
- It can be harder to control virtual behavior issues. Students can get really brave behind the keys of a computer. This is great news for the shy student who is embarrassed to ask a question in class, but happy to email or tweet at the teacher. This is not so great for the trouble maker who can hide behind a cryptic twitter handle to make inappropriate @mentions, retweets, and direct messages.
- It may take away from teaching an important organizational skill. It is great that the students have something to fall back on when they forget to write down the homework, but isn’t it a life skill to find an organizational system that works for you to track your obligations? Shouldn’t students learn to record important information on paper or a digital app before they leave a work or school setting?
- It may not be universal. Not all students are twitter natives and it may be an uncomfortable space for some who have never experienced twitter or who have quit social media platforms after cyber bullying. I should note that you can check an open twitter profile page and read the tweets without actually having a twitter account. You just would not be able to respond or interact.
- It’s another moving part to manage. With literature, vocabulary, grammar, school dances, permission forms, sporting events, and everything else that impacts the day to day life of a teacher, I’m just not sure that I even have a few minutes a day to dedicate to another moving part.
- It’s against the rules in some schools and districts. Know the norms and rules for your administration. Some schools and districts encourage social media and web 2.0 interactions with students, others frown upon it, and still others just downright ban it. Be sure you know where your school stands before you announce your twitter handle to your students.
So what do you think? Do I tweet or not? Help me!
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