Previous : A guide to using Twitter in teaching
I use my “Mr Billington” Twitter account, @FallibroomeBIL, to send my pupils things I think that they might like to know about. Sometimes this is a link to something from the world of Science that I think is interesting, sometimes it is a link to online resources that can be used to extend what we’ve done in class, sometimes it is just a message (e.g. information, a question, a joke or congratulations). Crucially, I don’t tweet anything vitally important, as I can’t guarantee that all of the relevant pupils will read it — it’s an “opt in” stream of information, for those that are interested.
While some pupils and parents are “following” @FallibroomeBIL, a lot of my pupils and their parents do not have their own Twitter accounts and so access my tweets simply by periodically visiting the webpage, www.twitter.com/FallibroomeBIL. Although some tell me when they’ve done this, I don’t really have a way to judge how many do this.
As the head of the Science Department at my school, I also maintain a departmental Twitter account as well, @FallibroomeSci. Again, this is for non-vital one-way information giving. However, this is a useful single point of contact for pupils and parents, if they want, as I use the @FallibroomeSci account to follow the individual Twitter feeds of all of the teachers in the Science Department. This is a good way to collect everything together in one place and advertises the existence of the individual Twitter feeds of the teachers.
By the way, it’s useful for a school to adopt an agreed format for all of the Twitter accounts (eg “@Fallibroome…” As it helps pupils and parents to find them all very easily using Twitter’s search box. It’s also useful if the school’s central Twitter account follows them all, too.
I have experimented with using my Twitter account to record (and publicise to parents) the homeworks that I set my classes. This actually worked well, but is limited to 140 characters, which was sometimes not enough. Instead, I switched to a homework blog (mrbillington.org.uk), which allows me to also upload resources, including worksheets, etc. More on this in a future post, but worth drawing attention to here.
One final thing, with relation to maintaining a professional level of contact. A school Twitter account is for communicating information to pupils, but they may “follow” your account using their personal Twitter account. It is vital to never forget that it is not appropriate for a teacher to follow the pupil back, or even to look at the pupil’s feed. Just because we know where our pupils live, it doesn’t mean we should ever go round to their house and spy on them through the front window and it is essential to extend the same social boundaries of the “in person” world into the digital world, too.