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Social media.

Social media is arguably the most powerful communication tool today, because it engages people of all ages and backgrounds. The effective use of social media such as Twitter can be a very powerful tool for educators. As educators, using Twitter allows us to model the correct use of technology and 21st century learning skills to your students. Below are a few good reasons every teacher should have a Twitter account.

In the classroom

The evolution of teaching practices to prepare students for 21st century learning requires teachers to engage students with difficult content in a manner that encourages critical thinking and facilitates use of technology. Using Twitter can be an effective tool for educators to motivate and foster innovation in students.

  1. Use #hashtags to provide students with additional information on what others are sharing on given topics, ideas, or even homework activities to bring for in class discussions. In the era of the flipped classroom, teachers are always looking to engage students with homework tasks that can then be turned into discussion starters, small group learning activities, or even a project based learning task.
  2. Use Twitter to remind students of upcoming events, tasks, or assignment deadlines.
  3. Use Twitter as a writing tool where students can post their writing and have peer reflections and discussions about each other’s writing. This allows you to engage students in tasks outside the classroom and then bring them together in class the next day.
Parental and community involvement

Twitter can be a great venue to keep parents and the community informed about what is happening in the classroom and the school as a whole. Twitter provides parents and the community with instant access to information without giving up your personal phone number and ensures that the messages get home.

Sending out tweets about events, important upcoming assignments, and other important school or classroom related information, allows parents who follow you to instantly be informed and to ask questions if needed.

Professional development

Teachers continually seek to enhance their professional skills, but the challenges of modern teaching and time constraints often make if difficult for teachers to participate in professional development activities. Twitter can be an effective and efficient way for teachers to grow professionally even with the time constraints and significant workload they face.

Follow educational organisations such as @TEACHUAE_MAG, ASCD, TED talks, or others that provide access to trending education topics, upcoming conferences and webinars. Participation in #EdChats and other multimedia outlets provide professional development opportunities and a chance to interact with other educators in scheduled online discussions.

Social media, in particular Twitter can be a very simple but useful tool for teachers when it is properly used. Teachers who may be hesitant to use twitter in the classroom can start by using Twitter themselves to compliment their own professional learning. Once you get the hang of it, using Twitter can become an integral part of the teaching and learning activities that you use to inspire your students. Remember to keep your personal Twitter account private and separate from the one that you use for school related activities.

By Dr Thomas Gamboa

Dr Gamboa has nearly 20 years of teaching experience at all levels from elementary to university graduate level. He is currently in his second year as a Cycle three public school English teacher in the UAE.

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