What should a networked educational leader tweet about?

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Rosaura Ochoa

This week, I begin a cohort based in Alberta, Canada, working with educational leaders that are both school and division based.  A question that I have received from many educators/administrators is what could I possibly share on Twitter.  Although this is not the “definitive” guideline below, I would love to share my thoughts on what you should tweet:

Here are 10 guidelines:

What you should tweet about:

  1. Sharing innovative strategies and news from your schools. As an educational leader, we are a needed voice and advocate for our own practices.  Twitter only allows for 140 characters, so often you will have a link to an article or accompanying blog post within that space.  This is a great way to be your own “press” while also contributing to the greater good of education.  Sharing is a must!
  2. Educational articles that influence your thinking. I read so much online and you probably do to.  If you believe that the article written by an organization or another educator is beneficial to your learning and/or the learning of others, tweet it out.
  3. Thoughts and quotes. As leaders we need to be thinkers.  Sometimes it is nice to have a space where we can share these thoughts.  Also, these short quotes may be just the fuel someone else needs to push through
  4. Questions that will help you or your organization. Last year, I wondered what would be the best portfolio platform to serve our student needs.  Instead of starting from scratch, I decided to ask this exact question to my Personal Learning Network on twitter.  Not only was the research already done by others, someone actually helped me create the platform! (Warning:  Do not get frustrated if you ask a question and do not get a response early.  You have to build a network of others first!)
  5. Support others educators. You are a leader and the best leaders empower others.  Twitter is a platform you can do this with your staff, or educators all over the world.  Retweeting other work is a way of saying that you enjoyed what they shared.
  6. Some personal information. This is where some educators may disagree with me.  Here is my philosophy.  As an educator, I am a person first.  When I share who I am with my students, we build a stronger connection. Sharing with people (every once in awhile) helps to build relationships as they realize you are person who goes to the gym, eats food, and likes music.  My belief; share what you would be willing to share with students (Twitter is public), but this should not be the majority of your tweets.

What you SHOULD NOT tweet about:

  1. Do not use any profanity. You wouldn’t do it in front of kids.  When you are on Twitter, you are in front of kids.  Don’t do it.
  2. Do not get into “fights” with others. Same as above.
  3. Do not share links to sites that are inappropriate. Same as above.
  4. Lose the negativity. Yes sometimes educational issues drive me nuts and I am bothered by some of the things I hear.  The occasional tweet about this shows that you are a person.  Doing it ALL THE TIME though is not what makes a leader.  People want to surround themselves, and be surrounded with positivity.  This needs to be emulated in your tweets.  Stay positive and if you can’t, stay off Twitter until you get there.

What did I miss?



  1. George,

    I think this is a great list. I would add on the "not" column to not share names of employers or students. I have seen some information that should not be shared in such a public forum in my opinion. Discretion and common sense should apply.

    I would also add resource and tool sharing. Some great resources are out there that I have picked up from my PLN on twitter. Don't assume everyone has heard of it and toss it out there for all to see/use.

  2. George,

    Thank you for sharing this information as it is an excellent guide for those on Twitter and those on the fence about it. I'll definitely share this with my staff. I appreciate your work!

    Be Great,


  3. Could not agree more, George. Really like the positivity and profanity examples. There is enough negativity that can come up in a day–I don't need more of it. I come to our PLN to be inspired and to learn. As soon as I see someone that is profane, I stop following them. No need.

    I might add: "Be a humble and vulnerable tweeter". I think it is a good thing to be comfortable enough to admit that you might need assistance with an idea or a thought that you are having, and to admit that sometimes, you try things that might not work out. The key is that you have LEARNED from the experience, and might want to spare the PLN some time if they are considering a similar idea.

    Thanks for this.


  4. Excellent post George. My favourite is the last "don't" – Lose the negativity. Sometimes the ranting gets to be a bit much. Yes, things need to change, and yes there are somethings that drive me nuts too, but the easiest thing to do is be negative. Creating change through a positive message is more long lasting and allows people to feel included as opposed to being scolded. Strong opinions are important, but balance is more important! Some great advice!

  5. This is a great post George. Being new to twitter and blogging I did wonder what I coud or should share. This is a nice step by step guideline. I agree that we are surrounded by enough negativity on a dialy basis that I don't want to read about it on a site that promotes education and educational thinking. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  6. Wow! Such a succint list, yet you cover it all. I echo others' appreciation for the emphasis on positivity. Otho want to hear people complain, I will go to the cranky section of the teachers' lounge! Thsnks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  7. Great post as always George! Your advice is spot on and really could not come at a better time…there is so much potential for educators through the Twitterverse, but with this great potential comes potential pitfalls. Your post is a great reminder that we should continue focusing on digital citizenship.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thank you for this list, George. I can't help but think you've written it just for me! Appreciating your leadership once again :)

  9. What do you miss? Commas in the 2nd last sentence. Was that a trick question? :-)

      • No way. I have an app that scans for grammatical errors – it autoposts suggestions for correction.

  10. Here's an interesting question, George: Should an educational leader tie their own name (@gcourous) or the name of their school (@bhsprincipal) to their Twitter IDs?

    Then, the logical follow-up question becomes: Would that choice change the content of a person's Twitterstream? If you choose to connect yourself closely to your school (@bhsprincipal), does that limit the kinds of content that you can share in your Twitterstream? Likewise, if you keep yourself branded as an individual, do you have more flexibility in the kind of content that you share?

    Finally, how many active steps should networked educational leaders take to keep their supervisors aware of the work that they are doing in digital spaces?

    Interesting questions, huh?

    And probably well worth considering for educational leaders new to Twitter!

    Anyway…enjoyed thinking here tonight. Thanks for starting the conversation.


  11. Thanks for the list. Your ideas will help me for my upcoming PD session. Many times I get stuck on one or two ideas to focus on but after reading your list I like the idea of many possibilities. Your writing helps me to "rethink" what I am going to say or do. Always a pleasure to read. Thank you.

  12. Love this list, especially the negative aspect. I love the discourse and debate that can come out of it. I agree about the arguing. Grandstanding could maybe be included as well. I also very much appreciate the fact that you model what you preach.

    • I do in almost occasions except when it comes to my brother :)

  13. I appreciate your distinction between the "learner/personal" account and the organizational account as well. I think that's a clever move, that shows you building in some capacity for the school. The twitter account, the connection, shouldn't be reliant on you – and only you.
    Excellent list, I know I will be sharing it!

  14. As curriculum coordinator at my school, I have been looking for ways to explain and share the impact the Twitterverse can have on professional learning to the administration at the school. Your blog posts and this list in particular, is an excellent resource for me to share with them on why this might be the next "important step" in growing and developing the professional learning community in our school. It's also a great example for why they should be on twitter…instead of simply tweeting this out to them at our (future) hashtag, I'm now going to have to "old school" it and send it via email and follow up with a personal face to face discussion!

    A few quick follow up questions, how do you recommend that a school begin the process of creating their online identity through the school twitter account (good suggestion to keep the accounts separate by the way!). What are some of the main things that a school account might tweet about to their audience which would supposedly contain parents and students?

    Thanks and keep the posts coming…they're great!


  15. A few more items for the "don't" list: DON'T post about what you're eating for lunch, or that you went on a wine tasting event over lunch, or what movie you are watching with your children, or what you think about the Oscars. Our principal does that and, quite frankly, it's embarrassing to the university.

    It's important to for those who represent an instution to emphasize the first 4 items in your blog, and use discetion about the personal items.

    • Is your principal using Twitter as a news feed for the school or is he just tweeting about every day things? I don't think that putting out information about social things is wrong. If we cannot share socially online our connections are tenuous. We have to be more, not less open. Perhaps the problem is not with your principal?

  16. Thank you for this George! I'm sending it to the soon to be Tweeting leaders that I know, it will be a big help!

  17. George,
    Nice work yet again. With such an extensive amount of work submitted by the PLN, there is so much to choose from and respond to. Some of it matches our own views, some of it doesn't. Your list sums up nice guidelines to navigate through it all and keep it professional and constructive, yet supportive even when offering alternative perspectives. Surprisingly, I appreciated the negative list more than the positive one even though many of them are professionally obvious. I think that is because there is so many great things put out there by the PLN and it still never ceases to amaze me the work our fellow educators are doing. Thanks again for the list. I intend to keep referring to it.

  18. You have inspired me to buck a personal tradition of avoiding Twitter. You have started what I hope to be the beginning of online, ongoing PD for myself and those in my school and district who care to join the conversation. Thank you for your positivity and your Twitter tips.

  19. I really love #6 in particular. Forget about a clear delineation between the personal and work in social media. It doesn't exist. And when you try and force it, you walk down the road of inauthenticity which defeats the entire purpose of your presence online.

  20. Diese Website ist wirklich ein Spaziergang – durch von für alle info wünschte über dies und wusste nicht, wen Sie fragen. Glimpse right here, und Sie ‘ll positiv entdecken es.

  21. This is an excellent article George. I particularly appreciate your stance in #6…….. If we aren’t “real” A) we won’t be relevant to those we are leading and B) our message won’t have relevancy either. People can’t follow those that they can’t trust.

    I also apreciate your message because I am relatively new to twitter and I need

  22. Great post George, shared it with our admin. I hope your post can inspire other leaders in my school to do the same.

  23. I'm inspired to tweet more this year, both professionally and for my school @johnadamselem . Thanks for promoting this social media for educators and school leaders!

  24. I often hear others say they don't want to hear the personal stuff, they just want the professional links. I believe that Twitter needs to be a community of learners who share as you would in a staff room. If my online time is limited during a busy day, I'm more likely to click and read a blog or article from someone I know, trust and admire their work. I think it's important to share a bit of ourselves with the world.
    Thanks for the post,

  25. Surely if we are having to sit down and work out what to tweet about this means that we don't need twitter. You are suggesting we use it because it is there, not because we need it.

    A bit like holding a screwdriver and thinking, "What can I do with this now?"

    • Poor analogy. A screwdriver is a very specific tool with very specific limitations that is widely used and known about. Twitter is none of these.

  26. Thanks for the great tips. I don’t know if others find this helpful, but I have a Hootsuite app that allows me to read tweets of those I follow and then retweet not only to Twitter but also to Facebook, LinkedIn at the same time. It also allows me to schedule my tweets ahead of time so as not to overwhelm readers with too many tweets at a time. Thanks again for the great advice as I am just beginning!

  27. Great post, George. I really like your very last point: Lose the Negativity. I honestly feel this is one of the biggest obstacles facing educators. The private sector does not want to hear us rant about things, since most of their responses are: “But you have summers off, so…” We need to showcase all of the great things being done in education today, even with all of the added roles and responsibilities. Great post!

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