PSSSST! HEY, YOU.
C’mere. I need to tell you a secret.
Come closer. I don’t want to have to shout this; it’s embarrassing.
Ready? Here goes.
I’m a teacher who uses Twitter.
I know what you’re thinking.
That’s it? That’s the embarrassing secret?
HERE’s the embarrassing secret. I’m on Twitter, I have NO idea what I’m doing or if I’m using it correctly, and it’s scary and fantastic and awesome all at once. THAT’s the embarrassing secret.
Now, if you’re under 30, chances are your Twitter handle is delicately inscribed on your birth certificate and you know instinctively how to win Twitter daily. You are a captain of the Twitterverse. The rest of us (and maybe some of you less tech-enthusiastic souls) needed some easing in. I know I did.
In June 2012, I began my official year as the U.S. National Teacher of the Year. I came out of my 7th-grade English classroom for a year of travel, public speaking, observations, and advocacy on behalf of America’s 3.2 million public school teachers. I traveled nearly a quarter of a million miles to nine nations, 30 states, and over 100 school districts. Along the way, I gave 200 speeches and workshops. No biggie, right?
Despite all of that, the thing that scared me the most was when my handlers told me I’d need to begin tweeting. Flop sweat. No joke. Here I was, so proud of my ability to text at lightning speeds, dial up the perfect memes for PowerPoints or Prezis, use iPads in my classroom to Skype with other teachers across continents, expertly build web or Facebook pages for various classes and projects, and yet the idea of trying Twitter just gripped me with icy, cold fear. I laugh out loud now as I type that last sentence, but it was real. I was terrified.
You see, Twitter is weird and different. At least it is to me. Handles. Hashtags. Modified tweets. Followers. @s? Chats? I still don’t know what some of that is. Twitter just isn’t as intuitive or easy for me as are other social media platforms. It took sorting out and much trial and error. Scratch that. It took much error and error. Today, after almost two years, I think I have a very basic handle on Twitter, and you know what? It’s awesome, and I can’t imagine teacher life without it for three reasons.