Twitter: You Can Do It!

A Teacher's Guide to Using Twitter

New To Twitter? Not a problem! Give it a try!

Twitter Basics

Twitter has its own grammar & slang. Here are some key terms:

  • Handle = your username. (example: @Birney_CJUSD)
  • AVI = avatar - the image associated with your handle (username).
  • Fav = short for favorite. When you click the little star or heart icon at the bottom of a tweet? That's faving. Use it to save tweets/links for later or just to give a thumbs-up.
  • RT = retweet. That's how you share what other people are saying.
  • LRT or RLRT = Last RT or Re: Last RT. Use this to preface a follow-up to a retweet.
  • Hashtag = A way of making your tweets searchable & your account more discoverable by people interested in the same things you are. You can also search topics using hashtags on topics you are interested in. Examples: #pbis, #2ndgradeteacher,#guidedreading, #elementaryteacher, #mathchats
  • Ts=teachers
  • Ss=students

Rules for Twitter

  • Do not use Twitter like facebook: No pictures of food. Typically, do not post about your family. Unless you’re at an education event, do not say where you are at.
  • The purpose of your professional Twitter account is for PROFESSIONAL PURPOSES.
  • The purpose is to make you a better educator.
  • Follow educators who make you better.
  • Do not be afraid to UNFOLLOW people. If they are not making you a better educator, unfollow them.
  • No noob eggs. Make sure you upload a picture of yourself for your twitter profile. You won’t gain followers without a picture.
  • Your description is important, make sure you describe yourself as a teacher and other characteristics to get people who you want to be part of your PLN will want to follow you.
  • Follow people you like & admire. Watch to see who they follow & interact with, to follow people outside of your own circle.

Difference between Mentions @, Hashtags #, & Replies

Mentions (@)

  • The @ is used to mention another Twitter user. It's effective because it notifies that person or organization that you've mentioned them. It also will allow your tweet to show up in searches for that user, which improves your odds of engaging another user in conversation if they're interested in the same topic.
  • The most crucial mistake users can make is assuming they know a person's Twitter handle without looking it up. For example, you were to tweet at @MarkCuban, no one would see it-- because the famous entrepreneur's handle is actually @mcuban. It's always a good idea to do a quick Google search or Twitter search to double-check your handles before posting them.

Hashtags (#)

  • Hashtags are Not People- There is a major syntactical difference between @BarackObama and #BarackObama. Hashtags are used mostly for subjects, not proper nouns like people or places. For example, #guided reading, #pbis and #classroommanagement are all conversations around topics, whereas @Birney_CJUSD and @ColtonJUSD are specific accounts.
  • Know Your Hashtags- Whether you're at a conference or watching your favorite TV show, it's always great to join the conversation via social media. But before you do that, make sure you know what the hashtag is that most people are using. Granted, a lot of times there are numerous, but poke around a bit to see if you can find the most common. Knowing your hashtag ahead of time will help you reach the most number of people with the least amount of effort and put you immediately into the center of whatever conversation you're trying to join.

  • Any Twitter user can create a hash tag simply by adding it to his/her own tweet. The tags are therefore not only a way of organizing tweets by topic, but also a way of creating communities of people interested in the same topic. In addition, sometimes a hash tag is used to organize a live "chat" event, where participants sound off by tweeting about a given topic.


  • Replies are different from mentions in two distinct ways:
  1. They are usually directed at somebody in response to a tweet, or to ask a question.
  2. The @ is the very first character in the tweet.

  • Here's an example: @jgomezprincipal I'd love to! It's our first time exploring the Rubik's so we're still learning. The program @YouCanDoRubiks is great!
  • Another example: @Birney_CJUSD Thank u for giving us the opportunity for a refresher course on Insight. It was a big help. I'm ready to use it with my class!

Using Twitter as Professional Development

Educators on Twitter often discuss what’s working in their classrooms and how they’ve addressed important issues – much like you might with your peers.

The Virtual Watercooler

Colleagues are a greatly underutilized professional development resource within the school building, and staff often remark about the benefits of setting aside time for collaboration with co-workers. What if the concept of “colleague” was expanded to include the wider community of educators nationally, and even internationally?

Making professional connections via social networking can not only result in a lot of great sharing of ideas and resources, but also combat the sense of isolation that many teachers experience.

It’s like having a professional development seminar at your fingertips 24/7, ready to discuss the educational issues that matter to you the most.

Some education-related hashtags (there's so many more):


  • Twitter Chats: Join in the conversation
  • The great thing about Twitter is that it’s one great big conversation – and all you need to do is jump in. Do this by both sending tweets about things on your mind and responding to the tweets of others. This give-and-take helps you build rapport with your followers. Also, attend one of the many education-related Twitter chats that happen each week, such as #edchat on Tuesdays at 12 p.m. EST. To find a list of education-related Twitter chats, check out this resource on Free Technology for Teachers.

  • Tweet like your mama, colleagues, and principal are watching
    Though Twitter is a great big free-for-all, it’s up to you to protect yourself. Keep in mind when tweeting that anything you write could be seen by your personal and professional connections. Anyone can see your tweets, even if you have your account set to private. Being set to private doesn’t prevent others from re-tweeting your tweets to their followers.
  • Tips for Successful Tweeting

    • Brevity: 140 characters is a challenge!
    • Threading: If you have more paragraphic thoughts, create a thread by responding to yourself (but delete @myusername from follow-ups)
    • Search for & save useful & interesting hashtags.
    • Tag your work: If you're participating in a hashtagged conversation (such as at a conference), include the hashtag so others can see & respond.

    How to Use Twitter

    How to use

    • Do not start a tweet with @ or else only people who are following BOTH of you can see the tweet.
    • It is still public but people would have to go specifically to your page to find the tweet.
    • Circumstance: You are wanting a good resource for using Google in the classroom.
    • Bad Tweet: @alicekeeler do you know a good resource for using Google in the classroom?
    • Good Tweet: Does anyone know a good resource for using Google in the classroom? @alicekeeler
    • Choose if you want it for a wide audience or not. If you want the advice of multiple people do not put someones twitter handle first.

    Advanced: Setting Up Tweetdeck to Organize Twitter Feed

    TweetDeck is a customizable tool that allows you to manage and organize an unlimited number of Twitter accounts and keep track of Twitter lists, Twitter searches, hashtags and more.
    How to use Tweet Deck (basics)