I had an awesome opportunity to talk to some great English teachers the other day. We talked about digital tools and we also talked about connecting with other teachers. One teacher asked me how can they connect with other teachers. They were on Twitter, but they found it hard to reach out to teachers and engage them in conversation. I gave them some tips and tricks and I thought I would share them here so they could share them with other teachers in the school.
Step One: Establish a Social Media Presence
This can be through the creation of a blog and/or Twitter account. If people want to connect, they need something that will connect them to other people. Blogs are a great way to expand on your ideas and Twitter is a great way to share your blog with other people. It is the route that I used and it has allowed me to meet some of my best friends. By having a blog and a Twitter account allowed me to connect with so many other teachers that are active in the blogging community and Twitter. It was a slow start, but I did connect with many great educators.
Step Two: Lurk and Then Engage on Twitter Chats
Find a Twitter chat that resonates with you. There are many great chats out, so find the one that that meets your needs. Once there, take some time and see what the conversation is like and how the pacing for this chat works. After a couple of weeks, I suggest you start to engage the people in the chat. Answer a few questions, respond to others who are in the chat. Start to follow these educators and become a regular participant these chats. I became really involved in #EdChat and met so many great people through the chat. It was a great way for me to expand my PLN. #EngChat was another great chat I used to meet many amazing educators passionate about learning and sharing.
Step Three: Connect Outside of the Chat Stream
Once you have become comfortable in the chat world, it is important to start engaging educators outside that one hour a week time frame. These could be simple questions and friendly conversations. Twitter for educators is a very friendly space and many of are always looking for interesting new people to connect with and share great ideas. Also, now that you have started to connect with many different educators, feel comfortable to start sharing your blog posts with the Twitter world. If the blog posts lends itself to a specific chat, add that hashtag to your tweet. Personally, I am always looking to for new posts to read. I find most of them on Twitter and I add them to my RSS feed if I love what I see.
Avoid spamming people with your blog posts though. Time to time I think I am guilty of this, so it is important to have conversations and the sharing of other great posts and not just a one-way conversation where it is your work all of the time. If people like your post, it will be re-tweeted around the world multiple times over.
Step Four: Connect at a Conference
Once you have connected with many of these great educators, see if any of them are going to be attending any of the conferences you are interested. If they are, see if people would be interested in a Tweet-up. Tweet-ups are a great way to take the digital connection you have spent time working on and making it a personal connection. Three years ago, I went to my first ISTE in Denver and I had my first Tweet-up. It was awesome. I got to meet so many people face to face that I had only shared tweets. Many of these people are close friends now that I can go to for help, support or just a good laugh. Heck, I met my brother from another mother this way (@TGwynn). Connecting at conferences is a great way to take engagement with your educational peers to another level.
Step Five: Don't Give Up
Stick with your blogging and tweeting. Don't feel like you need to post every dar or tweet every minute, but make Social Media a part of your routine. Continue to engage more educators on twitter and write what you want. Don't let yourself get stressed over your Twitter stream. You can't see everything, so just relax and be patient. If it is really good, someone else will tweet it again. Do not get obsessed with the number of followers you have. Numbers will grow and varying speeds. Just focus on being you and let the numbers game play itself out. Lastly, be you. People will read your blog and follow you on Twitter because you are you and you are the only you out there. We have have very original ideas to share and educators need more voices, not fewer.
I hope this helps those of you out there that are on the fence when it comes to engaging on Social Media. It is not easy to put yourself out there, but we expect our students to do this to some degree, maybe it is time to practice what we teach?
If you have any questions or just want to connect with me, you can follow me on Twitter @TheNerdyTeacher or shoot me an email.