Twitter for Professional Development
I have just written an article for an Argentinian magazine called “The Teacher’s Magazine” about Twitter. Since it’s been a long time, since the last time I wrote on this blog, I thought of reposting it here. Somebody may find it useful. Would love to hear your comments about it, or just a greeting! Kisses and hugs from lovely Panama… (I’m travelling around America at the moment, that’s why I’ve been so disconnected)
Everybody seems to be using twitter at the moment. Most celebrities, politicians, the city government, and some of your friends are twitting and retwitting. For that reason, you may find yourself wondering what this is all about. Or maybe you are already one step forward, and have started to ask how it can help you with your teaching.
I believe it will not only help you, it will open you a door to the whole world. You will be able to interact and connect with hundreds of other teachers from all over the world. Teachers coming from all walks of life, and from all sorts of different teaching contexts. You will have the opportunity of listening to and interacting with those professionals you admire – fellow teachers, teacher training specialists, authors, publishers, etc.- at a very personable level. Apart from that, you will get extremely fast up-to-date information about what is happening in your field, plus a great amount of links and recommendations for materials and teaching ideas. Even though at the beginning twitter may look a bit chaotic, once you start following educators that work in your field of expertise, everything starts to make sense. In this article we will provide you with a step by step tutorial on how to set up your account, and develop your PLN (personal learning network).
Setting up your account:
1) Enter www.twitter.com and register. You can use a nickname, if you prefer.
2) Upload a picture of you. People like looking at the person they are talking to.“Your profile picture defines who you are to the online world. It might be the first and only impression you get with people you meet online.” 
3) Write your biography. It should be 160 characters in length. Include your interests and your relevant expertise in teaching, so that others can get to know who you are and decide if they want to connect with you.
4) Now it is time to start following other twitter users. Following somebody in twitter means that you subscribe to their twits or updates, which will appear in your timeline (a list in real time of all the accounts you are following, which appears in you twitter homepage). To follow somebody, you can click on “Who to follow” and view the suggestions or make a search by name or topic.
Once you find a person of your interest, you click on follow and voila, you are already following them. If you do not have any clue on who to follow, you can start by following me. I am @sabridv. I will be glad to follow you back, and help you in whatever you need. If you enter my profile http://twitter.com/#!/sabridv and click on “following”, you will find all the educators I am already following http://twitter.com/#!/sabridv/following . You can browse through the list, and start following some. They are all very friendly and excellent professionals, who love learning collaboratively.
How to interact with other teachers:
1) The main way is by writing your own twits: write about your projects, ask for guidance to solve problems you encounter in you professional life, ask for ideas on how to deal with a specific grammar topic, share interesting links or useful resources, and many more.
2) You can also read other people’s twits, which appear in your timeline. Remember that you do not have to read every twit the second you see it appear on the screen. You can click on the star, and it will be sent to your profile “favourites” tab, so that you can read it when you have time.
3) You can also address a specific person by writing the @ sign in front of their name/handle at the start of the tweet. Beware that the message will still be public, and will therefore appear in your own timeline. The only difference with an ordinary twit is that this message will be sent to that person’s “@mentions” tab, and will be easy to find even if he is not online at the time you are writing. If you click on your “@mentions” tab, next to your “timeline” tab you will see all the twits that were aimed at you.
4) If you read an interesting twit and you want to share it with the rest of your followers, you should place the cursor over that tweet and click on “retweet”.
5) Finally, if you want to send a private message to someone, enter their profile and click on the envelope icon. To read your own private messages click on “messages” on the black bar.
To sum up, I truly recommend you to start building your professional learning network If alone we can get to do a simple and easy project, by being with others, we can always go a step further. I have learnt a lot by sharing ideas with others. I have been able to perfect my own creations by exchanging thoughts with colleagues. I am always refreshed and full of new ideas after a short trip over twitter. Being part of this online community of educators has made me realise how important it is the presence of others, who are undergoing the same learning journey, in order to motivate us and push us forward. Of course, we can learn on our own. However, by interacting and exchanging information with others, we can achieve a lot more and the trip becomes more fun.
The English Language Teacher’s Guide To Twitter, tech tip #11: http://kalinago.blogspot.com/2009/08/english-language-teachers-guide-to.html