What should a networked educational leader tweet about?

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. Curt Rees said:

    One rule of thumb I have is that I don’t tweet anything that I wouldn’t say in person. I’m in Wisconsin and there is a lot of emotion about the Governor’s plan to limit collective bargaining rights in addition to the proposed budget that cuts nearly a billion dollars from school funding. There are some terrible things being said on all sides of the issue, but I think it is so important to maintain civility with our passionate discourse. No matter what happens when this is over, we still need to coexist with our friends, adversaries, neighbors, and co-workers.

    March 5, 2011
  2. Helen Otway said:

    Thanks for sharing. These are good simple tips for those new (and not so new) to Twitter. There are many good people who I like to follow on Twitter, people who in inspire, challenge and support me. I’d like to think the same in reverse. Keeping professional yet adding some personal info does make it easier to follow someone. Lots of link sharing is great, but it really does not tell you much about the person. A leader still needs a voice, a personality, but at the same time be mindful about what what is voiced.

    March 5, 2011
  3. This is really, really helpful George: I expect I will use this post many times in the next year or two as I help my colleagues answer the so frequently asked question: if I were to begin tweeting, what would I tweet about?

    Two quick comments:

    1. Exactly as you say, as educators and leaders, we need to be thinkers, and our twitter feed is an important articulation of our thoughts and our vision. This requires taking some risks. Sometimes those of us in leadership positions find ourselves going out of our way to not offend, to not invite controversy, to please as many of our constituents as we can. But in doing so, we abdicate our responsibility to develop and share our vision.

    As we discussed in the Educon session, being a public thinker is taking a risk; it requires a certain boldness and a certain commitment. But it is the right thing to do.

    2. Your point 6 is very illuminating and reassuring. I struggle with how “personal” to make my tweets. I want to respect my (now 1560) “followers,” and take care not to inundate them with my personal “stuff.” But as you point out, it is not entirely appropriate to separate my “person” from my professional profile; it actually can help readers understand better my ideas if they know me better personally. Where I stand does, in part, come from where I sit and who I am.

    Thanks George,

    March 7, 2011
  4. Roger Pryor said:

    A good list George, and extremely useful. Funnily enough, we have been having a similar discussion about the hows and whys which may just get a few more administrators engaging and modelling approaches to using web 2.0 and social media in positive ways.
    I like the inclusion of the ability we have to tell the god news stories about our schools and people, and maintain a blog at http://eduleader.org/hcc4 to do just this. It’s nice to know that we have a means of publishing the good things and then broadcasting it via Twitter.
    The ideas about taking positions, and promoting visions and ideas are also powerful reminders of some of the fundamentals of leading in a connected world. You have summed them up really succinctly and I look forward to sharing the link to your work with my PLN and the twitterverse, as well as our corporate Yammer.
    I also agree with you about the consciousness which we need to have around language and the style of engagement.
    Thanks for the post

    March 7, 2011
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  6. Lynn Hardin said:

    What a great list of guidelines! I want to connect with other educators but find myself logging in to Twitter and thinking, “Now what do I tweet?” My favorite guideline is to lose the negativity because our job is to big to make space for negative energy.
    Thanks for all that you do!

    March 7, 2011
  7. Julius B Scott said:

    George, I am a novice when it comes to twitter but could not agree more with your post. I am an avid believer that isolation in public education has been a monumental detriment to our profession; this is not only true for classroom teachers but for administrators as well. Collaborating through social media is a great way to learn from and with others.

    March 8, 2011
  8. Cathy Koos said:

    I am also a novice when it comes to using Twitter as an educational leader. For my own professional development I have been surprised about how much I have learned on Twitter. I am now a believer! I have just this week started tweeting as a way to share the wonderful things going on at my school. This post has some great ideas for me. I haven’t announced it yet because I wanted to practice and have some tweets under my belt first. I looked and last night a parent found me on Twitter! My parents at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy are using social media and those that don’t recognize the potential are missing the boat.

    March 10, 2011
  9. Thank you for this informative article. A leader in any field has the obligation and responsibility to set the tone and the expectations, no one more so than those we trust our children to. Please continue with your efforts.

    March 28, 2011
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  11. Jason Markey said:

    Great post George, this is a perfect starting point for leaders knew to Twitter. One point I would add is we as leaders should use this platform to share the student voice and perspective.

    February 17, 2012

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