5 Rules for Using Twitter Now That You’re A Teacher
by Tracy Brisson, author of Confessions of a Teacher Recruiter and myEDmatch contributor
As the owner of a talent development agency that serves individuals and organizations, globally, I could not do my job without the power of social media and often coach people on how they can use it to feel empowered and advance their careers. I’ve worked with hundreds of people from marketing, fashion, tech, and other industries to embrace social networking tools and bring more success to their lives.
Recently, I’ve spent the last 30 days on Twitter engaging with teachers and future teachers as part of the work associated with my book Confessions of a Teacher Recruiter: How to Create an Extraordinary Resume and Hook Your Dream. I’ve also been starting to look for prospective leads for recruiting clients who are beginning to plan recruitment for the 2014-15 school year. And at the end of the 30 days, my conclusion is… really?!?
While I found new teachers doing great things on Twitter, there was a large group whose tweets left me expressing shock through a series of facial expressions I didn’t even know I could make!
So at the risk of sounding like an old lady yelling at all of you to “get off my lawn,” I’m going to give you my tough love and honest feedback on what you should consider before posting something on social media now that you’re a teacher.
#1: Accept that you’re now a grown-up.
Your immediate reaction to finding out that old folks like me are following what you’re doing on Twitter might be to make your profile private or even delete your entire account. Don’t do it! You will be closing yourself off to opportunities to learn from other educators and also find out about jobs, conferences, and fellowships. As we grow up, we often have to make choices about what is more important to us. Sometimes they are serious financial decisions, and sometimes they are simply about what we should post on social media. Your career growth should begin to feel more important to you than the freedom you have to tweet random statements without consequence.
Also, if you’re still considering locking down your account…remember nothing you post online is ever truly private. Think of media stories about supposedly private social media posts that found themselves in the public eye. It can happen to you so don’t post your amazing thought if you have a doubt about how it may be perceived if someone unexpected saw it.
#2: Use your future students’ parents as a guiding force.
Your future principal and students’ parents want their kids’ new teacher to be a leader and someone students will look up to as a role model. Get a clear picture of what those people’s faces would look like when reading your tweet before you hit send. Is it a contented smile or a grimace of horror?
#3: Pay attention to your Twitter bio and picture.
About half the people I found last month who identified themselves as a future teacher on Twitter had incomplete profiles. Many describe themselves as someone who likes to party…or someone solely dedicated to following Jesus. Not identifying yourself as someone who loves beer and pot in your social media profile should be a no-brainer. As far as religion, you of course have the right to follow whatever religion serves you, but the truth is that you may also be judged for that, especially if that is the only thing listed in your bio. A future employer may wonder if you are equipped to work with the diversity of students who attend public schools.
Solution? Use your Twitter bio to talk about ALL the things you do. If you are someone who feels strongly about including religion in your Twitter bio, here is an example from someone in the tech industry who strikes a balance: “Christian. Husband. Stepdad. Rubyist. Speaker. Blogger.” And never forget the bio of Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton) a great example of someone who covers the multi-faceted aspects of her life: “Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…”
As far as Twitter pics, it should be a great pic of you and JUST you. Selfies are okay as long as they are tasteful. If you’re in doubt about a picture, the answer is probably no, don’t use it.
#4: Don’t promote negative stereotypes.
Even for people who avoid the trap of talking about being a hard-partying millennial, there are stereotypes to avoid, like whining about how hard your work is or that your true goal is to quit school and marry a rich man. Every day last week I saw at least one tweet from a female teacher that complained how hard math is.
Tough love time: People have dedicated their lives to killing the stereotype that women are bad at math, and promoting the impression that teaching is a competitive profession that attracts ambitious, smart people who want it all. Don’t make it hard for yourself AND everyone else. Not only are tweets like that unattractive to employers, but there is a bigger impact beyond the negative reflection on you for tweeting it. Sometimes we might feel doubt about ourselves and want to say something flippant, but say it to your friend at lunch, not to the world.
#5: Do show your work and personality.
Just because you have to be more careful about what you post on Twitter as a professional does not mean that you have to be devoid of personality. While I remain cognizant that people are interacting with my personal Twitter account (@tracybrisson) to mostly talk about professional interests, I don’t mask my personality and also use my account for things I like personally, like live-tweeting Scandal, just like serious-person and political analyst Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile). I am just careful about what nouns I use to describe Mellie in my Tweets!
(But really, don’t use curse words on Twitter, or words that others might find offensive culturally, even when talking about something fictional. Ever. )
When it comes to teachers, I love unique Instagram pictures of education books, picture days, and other action shots. And if you want to include info on how you’re voting for The Voice these days, that’s okay, too.
Social media is a powerful tool people can use to be awesome…or not. Only you can decide to use it for your benefit.
Tracy Brisson is the author of Confessions of a Teacher Recruiter: How to Create an Extraordinary Resume and Hook Your Dream Job and owner of The Opportunities Project, a national talent development, career coaching, and recruitment consulting agency. Sign up for her newsletter for exclusive tips on teacher job searching and other opportunities. Follow her on Twitter at @tracybrisson and the book at @teacherrecruitr.Tweet
myEDmatch Partner Announces Program to Support Teachers After Graduation
Today, USC Rossier School of Education, a myEDmatch partner, announced an innovative program to provide ongoing support to its graduates. At a time when more than nine percent of teachers aren’t finishing their first year in the classroom, and nearly half leave within five years, support is more important than ever and the USC Rossier Commitment, as the program is called, sends the message that even after graduation, there’s much to learn. Read the press release below.
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 14, 2013 — The University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, one of the country’s top-ranked graduate schools of education, today announced a groundbreaking pledge to ensure the success of its graduates with a Commitment to support their continuous improvement and success for their entire professional education careers.
The USC Rossier Commitment is to provide all graduates who request help with ongoing resources as they start and build their careers. Any alumnus who is facing a professional challenge and reaches out to USC Rossier will receive help creating a plan for improvement, will have input from a USC Rossier faculty “Rapid Response Team,” and will be guided toward a range of resources and interventions to support his or her success.
“I am exceedingly proud of the USC Rossier Commitment to stand behind our graduates and their abilities to improve student learning. I challenge other colleges and universities to join us and take responsibility for the quality of their graduates and America’s teachers,” said USC Rossier Dean Karen Symms Gallagher. “As the country focuses on effective teaching to improve student outcomes, we are doing our part to support our graduates in evolving their practice and being the most impactful teachers they can be.”
The USC Rossier School of Education has been preparing teachers for over 100 years. In 2009, it launched its breakthrough online Master of Arts in Teaching degree, using a state-of-the-art online learning platform with self-paced coursework, live face-to-face class sessions and field-based teaching experiences. With the online and on-campus programs, the school has prepared more than 2,000 teaching graduates since 2009 alone. The USC Rossier Commitment also extends to its graduates in counseling, K-12 leadership, student services, marriage and family therapy, and the education doctorate programs.
The school has established a program to administer the USC Rossier Commitment, which includes a hotline and email for graduates to contact the school, a “Rapid Response Team” of faculty evaluators who conduct the problem diagnosis and plan development, and a roster of resources to help graduates meet their challenges and achieve success. As appropriate, a faculty member may even visit a school site to assess the alumnus’ work.
The USC Rossier Commitment, according to Gallagher, will greatly enhance efforts to evaluate and improve the school’s programs. The USC Rossier School is focused on the consistent assessment and evaluation of its programs, demonstrated by its use of a third-party evaluator who has been conducting a five-year longitudinal study of the Master of Arts in Teaching.
“We recognize that implementing the USC Rossier Commitment will be complex, and that questions and ideas will be uncovered along the way,” Gallagher said. “But we also recognize that we must stand behind our graduates and their work. We plan to share what we learn through this effort and continue this work over time to help us and others advance the teaching field.”
The school is committed to providing its graduates with the knowledge and skills to make a difference in any classroom – especially urban and other high-need classrooms – by delivering academically rigorous programs that combine theory and practice to address the education needs of an ever-changing population.
According to Gallagher, USC Rossier graduates are capable of identifying problems of practice in today’s classrooms and have the confidence to implement solutions that can transform educational environments. The USC Rossier Commitment builds on these assurances.
About the USC Rossier School of Education
The mission of the USC Rossier School of Education (ross-EAR) is to improve learning in urban education locally, nationally, and globally. Rossier leads the field in innovative, collaborative solutions to improve education outcomes. Our work is field-based, in the classroom, and online, and reflects a diversity of perspectives and experiences. We pride ourselves on innovation in all our programs, preparing teachers, administrators, and educational leaders who are change agents. We support the most forward-thinking scholars and researchers, whose work is having direct impact on student success in K-12 schools and higher education. We are leaders in using cutting-edge technology to scale up our quality programs for maximum impact.