Monday, September 30, 2013

Twitter, why did it take me so long to get you? By Karen Wright-Balbier


About the Guest Author:
Karen Wright-Balbier is a mother, wife, believer and life long learner. She enjoys working out, listening to audiobooks, watching TED Talks, time with her family and a good joke.  
I knew about Twitter.  I knew many high school students used it as their primary social networking tool. I knew my boss expected me to tweet.  

Why did it take me so long to understand the most powerful learning tool, Twitter? After all, I have been sprinkling my love and excitement for teaching, technology, and learning, with a smile for as long as I can remember.  What I need to remember is, there was nothing wrong with what I was doing. What I see now is, I was only sharing with the people that see me face to face or get my emails.  They are the people I trust and work with.  I know that I have only debated and had conversations with groups of educators that will still like me tomorrow, if I don't agree with them.

I feel that it is important to let you know that I have had a Twitter account since 2011.  I would only use Twitter when I attended a conference, like TCEA to tweet what I was learning.  I didn't add to my PLN by collecting people to follow.  When I would return home, I felt like I was tweeting myself and no one could possibly be reading what I was tweeting.  Do teachers tweet in El Paso?

I have been a faithful Twitter user for 4 months now.  Faithful, meaning that I am using it to learn, share, and make connections now.  I no longer feel like I'm tweeting myself.  How did this happen?

Twitter tips from a Newbie

1.  Ask for Twitter Handles- During the last conference I attended, PodStock 2013, I didn't want to lose the connections I made.  Every time I had a conversation with someone, I asked for their twitter handle.  They usually asked for mine back and I gained a few new followers.  I wasn't tweeting myself anymore.

2. Build Relationships- This has been the most difficult for me.  Try to interact, answer questions that you know the answer to, send a compliment if you honestly notice they are sharing things that are valuable to you, retweet any message that you want others who are following you to read.

3. Discover hashtags #- I didn't worry about hashtags too much when I began tweeting.  I have since learned that it makes it easier to search and following topics.  As I read other tweets, I am paying attention to what hashtags they are using.  As I tweet, I am trying to add hashtags to share with others who are interested in that topic.

4. Explore- Use the search feature in Twitter.  Search for people, topics, keywords, places, book titles, or anything you feel like learning or reading about.  After searching names of people I work under, I have discovered that I am not the only person that didn't get twitter.  There are a lot of people in education, making huge decisions, that do not have an account.  We all have to start somewhere, right?

5. Learn- Take learning into your own hands.  Every story and how is different.  For me, I saw a conversation someone was having with @techninjatodd.  I think I started following him because I liked his twitter handle.  From him, I learned about the @eduallstarsHQ podcast.  As I listen to the podcast, I started following all of the guests.  Then I found that other educators I made connections with at other conferences knew @techninjatodd via twitter.  I could keep going.  Since then I have been on a learning overload.  Learning through twitter because I want to, is very different than someone telling me I have to read a book and discuss it at work.  I am learning what I want to learn, when I want to learn it.  How powerful is that?

I feel like I can sprinkle my excitement for education, learning and technology with people I know now.  I don't really know them, but I'll be working on the relationships.  Since twitter only allows for 140 characters, I know blogging is going to have to be another way I share.

Here's to my rebirth of learning and sharing.  I will be sharing Twitter with a campus on Tuesday.  I'll be happy to share your twitter advice.  I don't it to take them 2 years to get it.

 "I consider it an honor to have Karen as a friend and fellow warrior within our educational system. Rock on Karen"....

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