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Jeremy Macdonald: If You Tweet It, They Will Come

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May 10, 2012 05:45 pm


The following post comes from Jeremy Macdonald, a 5th Grade & Instructional Technology teacher at Mills Elementary in the Klamath Falls City Schools district in Klamath Falls Oregon.

Many of us who participate or contribute to a Professional Learning Network (PLN) do so outside of our own school community, often as an activity that doesn’t involve many (if any) of our building or district colleagues. While a PLN can take many different forms, the most popular seems to be taking place in Twitter.

Several of my colleagues often question the time I spend “on” Twitter. The most common comment is, “When do you have time to do this? Nobody needs to know what I had for breakfast anyway.” And my response is almost always the same, “It’s not about being on Twitter all the time or sharing today’s breakfast, it’s about have place to go when I need ideas, resources, and conversations around what’s going on in education.” My response typically has little effect on their opinion, but that doesn’t keep me from trying.

Recently at a local conference I presented with my good friend David Cosand on the power of a PLN. During our session, we wanted to focus on all the ways that teachers can connect and share. We spent almost the entire hour talking and learning about Twitter. Our goal wasn’t to evangelize microblogging or convert anyone to writing in snippets of only 140 characters; our purpose was to show the power and connectedness that Twitter provides teachers around the world.

In our session we had a few doubters and a few that “believed” but were still hesitant — and those are the individuals for whom I write this post today. Below I will share some baby-steps that we can help our colleagues take to become more connected and more proactive with their own learning, professional development, and collaboration.

Phase 1:

Create a Twitter account.
– Easy enough, right?

Be you
– This means use a picture of you. Don’t be afraid to let people know who you are. Don’t settle for being an egg (which is the standard avatar).

Fill out bio
– Again, don’t be afraid to let people know who you are.

Phase 2:

Follow, Follow, Follow
– Start following other teachers
– These are a good place to start: @Cybraryman1’s recommendations for building a great PLN & Who To Follow in Twitter (Don’t be overwhelmed by the lists. Start with something familiar, like grade level.)
(Editor’s Note: We’d encourage you to follow the Alliance for Excellent Education (@All4ed) and Digital Learning Day (@DLDay2012.)

Lurk & take & try
– You don’t have to jump right in and join the converstation.
– Lots of people start out by lurking. Just see what people are saying and sharing.
– Begin to take some of the links and ideas. Try them. Learn from them.

Phase 3:

– Watch or follow a hashtag.
– Start by searching for #edchat. See what folks are sharing.
– Look for others that might interest you: Educational Chats on Twitter

Now that you have a plan, go and help someone get started. Help them see the the amazing things that teachers all over the world are doing. Encourage them to become part of a learning community that truly exemplifies “power in numbers”. But remember, there’s no rush. Guide them little by little. There are a lot of us out there that would love to help too. Find me at @MrMacnology . I’m always around and always willing to help.

Jeremy Macdonald is a fifth grade teacher and instructional technology coach at Mills Elementary in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Mr. Macdonald’s blog posts appear on the second Thursday of every month. Read his previous posts here. Find more information on Mr. Macdonald on his website at You can also follow him on Twitter at @MrMacnology .

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