guest post #8 – Kate Smith-Crallan @sckate

I have a confession to make… I’ve been lurking on Twitter for some time now. I go through phases, sometimes I’ll be on Twitter every day, morning and evening reading the conversations others have, following links to blogs, policies and resources. Sometimes though it’s all too fast paced, too much going on, too much to follow and too many people talking, too hectic and to time consuming. So, I’d avoid Twitter – admittedly this is mostly during term time when there is so much going on. Then the holidays come and I creep back like a repeat truant, hoping that no one will have noticed that I was away (which of course they don’t because I never say anything) but also feeling like I missed a whole bunch of really valuable stuff that I can never catch up on!


So, as we come to the end of the summer holidays, most of which have been spent writing a dissertation about how teachers use Twitter and how they find it valuable, all the time hiding my guilty secret that during term time I really don’t use Twitter! Having read all the positives, and seeing a clear link between the level of teachers’ engagement with Twitter and how valuable they find it and how much impact they feel it has on their practice I am now determined not to forsake this resource when it will be of most use, when I can find the most resources and expertise that people are kind enough to share. With this end in mind I have been investigating how I can use lists to make my Twitter feed more manageable. I’ve made lists for each of the subjects I teach – currently Geography, Politics and Sociology, one for other leaders on Twitter (I’m also a HoD), and one for Celebrities (obviously the most important and informative group!). I am well aware that I am behind the curve, that I’m coming to the list party late, so for all you advanced Twitterers, please have patience, and share your listy wisdom!

I hope that grouping these twitter educators into lists means that Twitter becomes more manageable. I really believe that not only is Twitter a great resource for sharing resources, ideas and news, it’s also a great place to share enthusiasm, experiences and the joys of teaching – something that is vital and extremely valuable particularly as the nights draw in and November seems to go on for ever. I’m hoping that when I am flagging, my lists will mean that I can easily find a group of educators who can help me re-energize and might have some resources that help and that maybe I can find the confidence to share some of my experiences, resources or thoughts! I’m going to see how this goes, and come back with an update in December.

In the mean time, get in touch: D

o you use lists? How? What am I missing? Is there a better platform that the website on my mac and the twitter app on my phone?


3 thoughts on “guest post #8 – Kate Smith-Crallan @sckate

  1. Managing Twitter is quite an art I need to make more use of lists as well. The Anglia Ruskin VLE enables us to add a Twitter widget feed to module / course front pages, this helps encourage students to use Twitter to support their study but some of the unsolicited promos I get are not welcome so I need to get lists working a bit more effectively to filter those. The volume of promotional tweets about stuff that I have no interest in is more than annoying; Twitter was a place where I could choose to follow people I share professional and personal interests with and virtually every tweet was relevant / interesting until the advertising kicked off.

    Dealing with volume of any e-communications is a big issue and is the main reason why I don’t follow many people. The value of the gems posted by education practitioners is high, I could spend many hours a day learning from / with the few I do follow and I often wonder about the wealth of info that I miss out on by not following more – it’s a tricky balancing act.

    I do find the blogs and other informal publishing, especially the associated comments / conversations, far more interesting than most of the stuff I read in peer reviewed journals, this has put me off formal publication – the only incentive to write for journals is that it is an expectation within the profession I find myself in. I have also found following some high profile academics / researchers very disappointing; banner headlines and catchy ‘inspirational’ statements are often fairly weak and worth far less than reading the nitty gritty honest reflections and inspirations from the chalk face.


  2. Thanks for this, Kate.

    I had a couple of thoughts as I read it. When I first started to use Twitter (Nov 2011 I think) I used to want to read everything posted by those I follow (and I’ve always kept the number of people I follow quite low in order to make that manageable). I soon realised that ‘closing the loop’ and reading all the tweets until you reached those you’d already read just wasn’t possible – or at least it would be a full-time job!

    Then I was involved with participants on a ‘Moving from Middle to Senior Leadership’ day, and I was talking about the benefits of Twitter for professional development. One of the participants said he’d heard that Twitter was like a ‘waterfall’. You can’t catch it all, but you take your cup and go to the waterfall when you’re ready and take what you can use. Then you go back again later, and take another cup.

    I found this a helpful analogy! As I no longer work full-time I have more time to read tweets and blogs than most of my followers, so I try to curate/filter in a way I hope is helpful to others. There are times when I’m busy and just can’t spend that much time on it, but at other times I can. I learn a huge amount and am keen to pass on what I learn to others who might find it useful.

    I don’t use Lists, but I do recommend that it’s a good idea to do this or to have separate Twitter accounts for professional learning/the rest of your life. In holidays you do need some time to switch off/not think about school, so opening up Twitter to see a blog post about the new Ofsted framework sometimes isn’t what you need at that point. It’s like school email – I would check it on designated days but not get sucked in to checking it all the time. Even the most dedicated and committed of us need downtime so that when we return to school after a break we feel refreshed and re-energised.

    So I’d say, try not to feel guilty when you can’t/don’t use it. Just make the most of the ‘waterfall’ when you can!


  3. Really great post. Like you I’m writing an academic piece on how people (school leaders in my case) use twitter. Just to add to this. One thing I’ve found useful is tweetdeck. I have it open on my desktop and use searches or has tags to follow people or themes.


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