I’ve had my Twitter account locked ever since I signed up for the service ~3200 tweets ago. Anyone who wanted to follow me had to get my approval first. It seemed like common sense. I didn’t want my students (or their parents) to have access to my thoughts, as one of those thoughts may come back to harm my professional life somehow.
The other day, though, I took a leap and changed the privacy settings on my Twitter account. Now, anybody can access it, read my stuff, retweet what I write, etc. Students, my principal, grandpa, anybody.
Some teachers might freak out over this, but I’ve got a few reasons. Hear me out.
1. I’ll have to be more careful. Being Facebook friends with my mom and coworkers means I watch what I post. I wouldn’t dare quote my friend’s vulgar joke when Aunt Becky’s reading, and I don’t want my department chair to think about the poop I just took. Casting a wider social net(work) requires tact, and I’ll be far less inclined to badmouth a student or make fun of a paper which might have been his best effort, if I know that statement is open for anyone on the internet. I want that. We all should.
Further, on a protected Twitter account, the people that I want to read my tweets might not be able. I could read a conversation on education trends, for example, but I couldn’t reply to someone unless they followed me. Same with trending topics. If I have something significant to say about #TeachingShakespeare or #reading or #SpaceJam, I want my thoughts to be accessible to anyone interested.
2. Even further, with many of my students on Twitter, it’s an easier communication tool, much more than e-mail or even Facebook. Not that I particularly want all of my students to follow me (I really really don’t want that), but it’s logical to permit a student to ask me about their homework via Twitter, then retweet my response to everyone else. That’s golden.
3. I like to know my students. It helps to win them over if I can remember at least something about who they are: whether they love Virginia Tech football or horror movies, whether they work at Taco Bell or wrestle every day. I don’t think it’ll hurt for them to know me, either: my dumb jokes, my interest in hockey, etc.
I’m not about to put my Twitter account on the reading syllabus, but I don’t think I should hide it anymore, either.