How Can Twitter Help My Teaching?
Teachers are already busy – why use Twitter?
Teachers are natural collaborators – even the best maths teacher in the world doesn’t make all of their resources from scratch. In fact, a good teacher is one who is able to constantly curate, update and improve on the resources of others, tailoring activities to meet the needs of the individual class and student. (Whilst still making some new things of their own!)
Teachers are always looking for new resources and new ideas to improve their teaching, but one problem is that it can be time consuming sifting through material to get to the golden nuggets which can transform your teaching.
This is why Twitter can save time, as people only tend to tweet maths resources or maths CPD ideas which are worth sharing. It can also lead to you being up to date with the best new resources or ideas which are circulating within the maths teaching community. Twitter can also give you a flash of inspiration on a grey Monday morning.
Twitter can also be a really positive place to be – you can choose to connect with some of the most passionate teachers in the country. This can give you a much needed boost, particularly if your department is going through a tough time, and there is more moaning going on than celebrating.
Different Teaching Styles
It is easy to get locked into one particular teaching style, particularly when you have been doing the job for a few years. Twitter can open your eyes to different methods and approaches, some of which you might not have heard about before. A fresh perspective is sometimes just what you need.
Who should I follow?
You could start off with following some of the most popular maths enthusiasts/educationalists – once you see who they retweet (means they share other people’s posts) then you will gradually get ideas for who else to follow. You could also look at who they have chosen to follow.
People and organisations you could follow (a small selection of ideas) – don’t forget, we aren’t endorsing everything they might say in the future!
- @alexbellos – Author of Alex’s Adventures in Numberland
- @standupmaths – Matt Parker – stand up maths comedian
@DrFrostMaths – Jamie Frost produces some amazing resources – especially good for high achievers
- @mrbartonmaths – Craig Barton – the teacher behind the incredibly useful mrbartonmaths.com
- @mathscareers – The UK’s most popular maths careers site
- @tes_maths – Find out the latest news/resources from the much loved TES website
- @educationgovuk – Keep up to date with the latest policy changes and initiatives from the DfE
- @IMAmaths – The Institute of Maths and its Applications
- @Mathematical_A – The Mathematical Association (MA)
- @ATMmathematics – Association of Teachers of Mathematics
@LondMathSoc – The London Mathematical Society
- @MEImaths – Mathematics in Education and Industry
- @RoyalStatSoc – Royal Statistical Society
And don’t forget – The Maths Teacher Training Scholarship Scheme
- @beamathsteacher – The official account of the Maths Teacher Training Scholarship Scheme – Stay in touch with all the latest news.
If you aren’t sure what a hashtag is on Twitter, then it is like label which helps categorise material. If you write in the search bar #maths then articles which contain the tag #maths will appear. There are also some regular Twitter chats such as #mathschat 8 pm every Wednesday, and #mathscpdchat - every Tuesday from 7pm to 8pm. This could be a great way to link with other teachers.
Should maths teachers even be on Twitter?
Social media can be a minefield for teachers – however plenty of teachers use it successfully and to great benefit. It is however important to follow some guidelines:
- Stick within your own school’s guidelines for using social media – you should have specific training within your child protection training / staff handbook.
- Always keep your tweets professional – this goes for both teachers and non-teachers – there is many a celebrity who has lost their job because of an unwise tweet – and the same can be true for teachers.
- You probably shouldn’t let pupils or parents follow you, certainly don’t direct message them – it could reflect badly on you. You also probably shouldn’t follow pupils, partly because you will end up seeing everything which they say (!)
- Check your privacy settings and password security on all social media sites – you don’t want to get hacked, especially by a pupil.
- Remember that you don’t need to write tweets on Twitter – you can just look at other people’s posts in order to gain ideas, everyone uses Twitter differently.
- However – if you think you are going to be an enthusiastic maths tweeter then it could be worth getting a maths specific account: e.g. @mrbmathsteacher87, but remember to still keep your personal account professional (it could still be viewed by pupils/parents/future employers).
- Use your common sense, and you will be able to successfully use Twitter like many other teachers.
Once you are a Maths Teacher Training Scholar, you will be able to link with other Scholars in order to share ideas and resources. Twitter is constantly evolving and will help you keep up to date with the latest maths resources, news, and ideas for CPD.
Remember that social media platforms are there to serve you – they needn’t be a burden as long as you use them sensibly, and hopefully Twitter will only help enrich your teaching career.
However… if you have time to share your own resources and retweet other useful tweets, then you are going to also be helping sustain the Twitter community and will be helping lots of other teachers in the process.