Being a #teacherontwitter

This will be a very quick post (as it’s late and I’m hungry) inspired by this article in the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s occured to me before that although there are guidelines for teachers on Facebook, there’s not the same kind of emphasis on Twitter. Here, then, are the rules I follow when I tweet – they also apply to my blog.

  1. I blog and tweet discreetly – I suppose I could be identified, but it would take some effort and some luck – because I choose not to identify myself to my students. It may be about teaching, but its not part of my working life, so they don’t have a right to know. (The same applies to my colleagues and bosses.) This means a rough area and a first name.
  2. I never identify students by name and when I discuss them critically, make sure that it is general, not specific. I use their errors and attitudes as generic examples, not to ‘name and shame’. I follow equivalent rules to those I would expect of a doctor or nurse who tweets about their shift; about ‘patients’ as a group but never particular patients.
  3. I try never to produce anything that I would be embarassed to have read out in the staff room or printed out in the playground. Anyone who reads my Twitter feed will have picked up a lot about me. I’m married with two kids, I climb and run, I read a lot, I have an odd sense of humour (with a preference for bad puns), I’m passionate about teaching, skepticism and atheism. Most of my students will have picked up bits and pieces of that. Occassional tweets will have hinted at frustration with tickbox assessment, experience with mental health problems, a distrust for the law, and a strong belief in equality of LGBT aspects of sexuality. Make of that what you will; I’m ashamed of none of it.
  4. I am always aware that in my Follower list there are students, and some of them could be mine. There is no requirement that people sign up to Twitter under their real, full name – I didn’t. So if my students realised my ID somehow, or stumbled upon my blog, they could choose to follow me, knowingly or by chance. If in doubt, I don’t hit ‘Send’.
  5. EDIT: I’m an idiot – blame it on lateness. One of the most important rules is, of course, a positive one, rather than negative. It’s about what I do, not what I avoid. I try to help. I’m positive when I can be, constructive when it’s been a bad day or a long week. I share ideas, pass on links and try tog et conversations started. My recent efforts with #pimpmydemo are an example of this, but it’s (hopefully) demonstrated whenever I swap banter with a colleague, make suggestions, respond to challenges. All because I want to use twitter, and my blog, to make things better, somehow, some way. Hopefully I’m managing.

What are your rules for being a #teacherontwitter?


One thought on “Being a #teacherontwitter”

  1. I’ve recently opened up my Twitter account, having had protected tweets. I’ve been back to delete all but the last month’s tweets (I know things stay in searchable timelines etc, but it makes things a little harder for the average student to find).

    I’ve never mentioned a student by name, or a colleague. Having opened up I will be keeping my frustrations in check, and I’ll probably tone down the swears a little (but I lecture in FE so things are a bit more relaxed on that front, especially in a fieldwork situation).

    As for my reason for decloaking – it was because I was missing out on interaction, unable to send replies to anyone who wasn’t following me. The help I’ve had today alone (finding short practical biology demos for a taster day) is worth the increased exposure.

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