Growing Your Twitter Influence

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” by David Alston

Guest blog post by Phil Echols

There are 330 million active monthly users on Twitter. Of those, 145 million, use the service daily (Twitter, 2019). That’s a lot of chatter. Now, more than ever, people desire to be heard and share something that might inform, inspire, and resonate with others. As the old saying goes, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should listen twice as much as we talk.” Here are a few strategies that I’ve found useful while growing my Twitter network and influence.

Balance withdrawals and deposits

One way to grow your Twitter network and influence is to spend time interacting with others tweets. Focus on interactions, not numbers. Examples of interactions include responding to questions, commenting on threads, “liking” tweets, and retweeting things your followers might find valuable or inspirational. There are a lot of “asks” on Twitter (i.e. Visit my, Buy now, Share our) and as beneficial as those resources might be, I equate those with withdrawals. It’s like walking past the person selling lotion in the mall. The lotion might be exactly what I need for my dry hands but your method of delivery makes me feel like you’re about to steal my credit card information. Are you praising and sharing as much as you’re asking? Be mindful of your ask vs. share and praise ratio.

“Likes”

Some Twitter users “like” tweets as a way to reference them later. Others might use it to acknowledge or validate a comment or resource. As your twitter network grows, it can be challenging to keep up with all the comments. I sprinkle “likes” like confetti as a means of interaction, almost like a virtual fistbump. If there are tweets I want to reference later, I save it by Direct Messaging (DM) myself. When checking tweets on the go, this is a great way to save something you might want to reference later when you have more time to craft a mindful response.

Be human/Show personality

Once you find your voice, go with it. Be authentic. Be yourself. Growing your connections and influence takes time. Trying to be someone you’re not, will eventually come to light. When we talk about our passions and things we love, our eyes sparkle, our face lights up, and the tone in our voice changes. The same happens on social media. People can read when a message (or tweet) is disingenuous or copied and pasted. The key to authenticity is finding your voice and monitoring the things that resonate with your audience the most.

Engage, Engage, Engage!

Use your manners

In the book Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk mentions no formula calculates how many positive interactions it takes to pay off in a sale or a recommendation. Every interaction is an interview and earning others’ trust is key whether you’re simply growing your network or selling goods and services. Gratitude is free. Without spending money, there are ways to build and strengthen virtual relationships by making others feel valued. Sending a “thank you” or an “I appreciate the RT” only takes 7 seconds, but the return on investment is exponential. First, it communicates a sense of appreciation to the person. Secondly, it increases impressions. It raises the visibility of your tweets. Finally, it models who you are to others, and when you finally do have an “ask” it increases the likelihood that your followers will respond to the call to action.

Revisit your lists

Twitter lists are a great way to target audiences and track your level of engagement. You created the lists and added certain people for a reason. Carve out time to scroll through your lists engaging in the conversations related to the list category. Let them know you appreciate their perspective by “liking” tweets, retweeting relevant content, and by connecting them with others on your list.

Twitter Chats

Connecting back to withdrawals and deposits, when is the last time you participated in or promoted a twitter chat other than your own or one your organization/school district is hosting? Occasionally, visit other twitter chats to contribute and learn. Be open to the ideas being shared and enter the conversation as you would physically face to face and not monopolizing the conversation.

A couple of things to be mindful of while engaging in twitter chats:

  1. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  2. When others contribute something that resonates with you, let them know.
  3. You don’t have to have the last word.

In conclusion, your identity, values, and beliefs are made visible through your words. Twitter can feel like a popularity contest when comparing your numbers to others. One of the best ways to grow your influence is to care about the people you’re interacting with and consider as many ways as you can to add value to your relationship. Twitter shouldn’t feel like a cold call. Focus on people, not numbers.

5 Ways Leaders Can Show Empathy

“The highest form of  is knowledge empathy.” By Bill Bullard

Empathy is an essential skill for all leaders. It is one of the most important ingredients to building strong, trusting relationships that allows leaders to connect to others. It also can be hard taking on others concerns so it is important that leaders make sure they give themselves grace and also have someone to lean on as well.

  1. Be Fully Present – Remove all distractions. Turn your cell phone over so the screen is not shutting or if you are in front of your computer put it at a 45 degree so it shows the other person you are present.
  2. Actively Listening – Let others share their stories without interrupting them or adding your opinion. Instead ask questions and let the other person drive the conversation.
  3. Show Vulnerability: Share the risks you take, the failures you have, be transparent with your communication and share your process on how you make decisions. Sharing this information shows others that you are not perfect and that helps people relate to you as a leader and builds your empathy muscle.
  4. Withhold Judgment- Understand the other person perspective, let go of the idea of a right or wrong answer. Reflecting on what others have said helps to better understand their perspective as well.
  5. Be a Servant Leader: Help others such as by highlighting their strengths. You also can do this by developing others in ways that unlock their potential, creativity and sense of purpose. 

Want to know how empathic you are? Take this quiz created by UC Berkeley, you will then get a report that gives you more suggestions based on your results.

You might also like my previous blog post on Building Empathy with Educators.

10 Ways to Get More Followers on Twitter

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” via David Alston

Twitter is a powerful social media platform for educators. It can help to grow your network and build a connection with others that are interested in the same education topics as you. To me twitter has been the best professional learning experience because I can learn from experts on different topics along with seeing different perspectives.

  1. Photo: Make sure you have a headshot instead of having no image or something random. Nobody wants to follow a faceless person.
  2. Profile: Your profile is what followers read first. It is a chance to explain who you are, what you do and what you are passionate about. This is why it is import to have a strong profile that represents you. Some things you should include in your profile are relevant keywords (shows up in searches), highlight your skills and include your interests.
  3. Banner/Headers Image: Your banner should also represent your personality and interests like your profile. When people click on you, they will be drawn naturally to your banner first, even before reading your profile so make sure you use that real-estate wisely.
  4. Tweet Frequency: Tweet content regularly including on weekends even if it is only a few tweets! You can do this without being on twitter all the time by using free services that schedule tweets such as Tweetdeck.
  5. Hashtags: Use hashtags to open up your tweets to more audiences – but also don’t put a lot in one tweet. You should also decide on which hashtags you want to follow based on your interests along with what is popular. You can notice these hashtag trends by seeing what others are using and following them to see if they are the right fit for you. Example: I like to follow #leadershipmatters as I am interested in leadership and I like follow #edutwitter as it seems to be a catch all for great idea sharing.
  6. Mentions:  Connect with followers by mentioning people in your tweets. For example say @(fill in the blank persons name) so that you are pulling them into a conversation.
  7. Chats: Attending Education chats on topics that you are interested is a great way to “meet” people that have similar interests as you. There are many education chats happening all week, here is a great place to start but please note twitter chats come and go so double check to see if the chat you are interested in is still happening by checking the hashtag.
  8. Follow: In order to get more followers you also need to follower others! Also participate in the #FridayFollow to promote people you are inspired by or interested in what they are saying.
  9. Tweet Content: Your twitter content should not always be your personal content. You want to make sure you are promoting others voices as well by retweet. Adding images to your tweets is also helpful for two reasons, one because the image will catch peoples eye and two because you can also tag others in images so they can see it and more likely will retweet your content.
  10. Call to Actions: Make your tweets actionable! Ways to make tweets actionable are by adding in questions to engage others or by introducing people that you think should follow each other – think virtual introductions.

If you want to follow me on twitter or want to see these tips and tricks in action you can take a look at my account – I am @edu_thompson.

Always make sure you follow good Twittiquette; for example – don’t buy fake followers, don’t spam people (including in DMs) and don’t be a troll.

5 Digital Tools to Promote Collaboration

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Having students collaborate using different digital tools helps build students communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Here are five ways to promote collaboration in both a physical and/or virtual classroom space.

Video Ask: It was created for business but teachers can turn anything into a learning opportunity with VideoAsk. Teachers and/or students can pose questions and you can reply back different ways such as with video, audio, or text. It works asynchronous so students can reply back with they have had enough time to process and/or when it is convenient for them.

Wakelet: This application allows teachers and students save, organize and share content from across the web. It can be used multiple ways in the classroom such as co-creating a digital newspaper or newsletter. You can provide your students with a topic and theme such as Ecosystems and students can find current events around that topic and have discussions.

StoriumEdu: StoriumEdu is very unique as it gamifies creative writing. Students get different digital “story cards” that represent different aspects of storytelling and character development. The cards serve as writing prompts, helping students figure out what to write next at each step of the game.

Gimkit: Similar style to Kahoot, Gimkit is a game show for the classroom that requires knowledge, collaboration, and strategy to win. It makes it great for remote learning because each student can play on their own devices

Dotstorming: Have students brainstorm together and vote on their favorite ideas. Last week I collaborated with a teacher to help create their virtual classroom rules/norms together with the students using Dotstorming. The students add cards of what they wanted the rules to be for their virtual classroom and then they voted on the top four rules co-creating their rules together.

I would love to hear your favorite digital tools to promote collaboration in the classroom. Share in the comments!

Online Teaching Opportunities at Outschool

“Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.” —Unknown

Outschool, a marketplace for live online classes K-12, is trying to hire 5000 teachers over the next few weeks to support student learning during this pandemic. 

Outschool is offering free classes to families who need them due to school closures and has seen more than 10x the number of families sign up for classes the last few weeks and needs more teachers to keep the learning growing. 

Why teach with Outschool?

  • Impact: In under two weeks, you can be teaching live online classes and helping students and families right now
  • Flexibility: You set your schedule to times that work for you
  • Creativity: You teach what you love, the way you believe it should be taught. You pick the subject
  • Financial Security: You set the prices for your classes and most teachers report earnings of $40 per teaching hour or more. With unusually high demand, classes fill up quickly. 

You can learn more about teaching online for Outschools here.

Resources for School Closings: COVID-19

“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.’”by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

With COVID-19 causing uncertainty in schools, I started curating resources that I have been seeing that support you and your students. With all the free digital resources, don’t forget about non-technology learning such as books, puzzles, cooking (following a recipe), playing outside, and conversations!

It is also important to recognize that this is an emotional time for everyone and we need to make sure we are thinking about the social and emotional needs for all.

Teachers:

Principals:

District Leaders:

All Educators:

Please share any resources you know of in the comments for all to see!

7 Education Facebook Groups You Should Be Apart Of

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” by Leonardo da Vinci

I love Facebook (FB) groups because you connect with like-minded people who are sharing learnings and ideas that improve your educational craft and practice. Finding FB groups is relatively easy. First type what you are interested in, into your Facebook search bar such as leadership, and then click Groups. A ton of groups will populate, most of the time, groups are closed and you have to send a request to join. Sometimes there is even a “quiz” to make sure people who join the group are there for the right reasons.

Below I have shared my favorite educational FB groups I am apart of. I would love to know which FB groups you love as well; please share in the comments so I can also join those groups too.

Personalized Learning Collaboration: An international group of educators sharing practice and questions around the topic of Personalized Learning/Student Centered Learning.

LIFTEd: Leadership Insights for Transforming Leaders: LIFTEd is a group for change-makers interested in transforming K-12 education. Along with providing actionable advice and insights, this group is a network for school and district stakeholders that exchange ideas & resources and connect with others in K12 education across the country.

Principal Principles Leadership Group: This group is a professional learning network for future and current school leaders. They share ideas and resources every day!

HyperDocs: This is a forum where educators can share thoughts, questions, ideas, resources, and HyperDocs.

Breakout EDU: This is a forum for members of the Breakout EDU community to collaborate, brainstorm, and connect with other educators using Breakout EDU.

Instructional Coaches Connection: This group is for Instructional Coaches as well as other educators who would like to collaborate with coaches.

Standard Based Learning and Grading: Traditional grading practices work against the natural learning process. This group is a forum for discussion surrounding the ideals and implementation of Standards Based Learning and Grading.

Shifting from Desires to Habits in Education

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Anonymous

This past year, when visiting a school, the leadership team was frustrated with the school culture. They wanted the staff in the building to have more gratitude toward each other. Through some guiding questions and honest discussions I helped them reflect on themselves as leaders to think about what they did for the staff to model their gratitude. They soon realized that they were not doing anything to help build a culture of gratitude, they just wanted it to happen.

Traveling across the country working in all levels from classrooms, to school to district level I often see this. We want (fill in the blank of desire) but we want it to magically happen. The below process has helped educators breakdown their desires and make it into actionable tasks.

For this school we backwards mapped what our desire was for the school; have a culture of gratitude. We then thought about the goal we needed in order to make the desire happen. Then we thought about what habit we needed to create in order to be successful with our goal.

DesireGoalHabit
Culture of Gratitude Write two notes of gratitudeWrite notes of gratitude per day when eating breakfast, put them in teachers boxes first thin when I arrive.

It is important to note, a habit is simply a regular tendency, behavior, or practice. Habits are the things we do so often they become second nature.  For a habit to take root it needs to be learned, practiced, and used regularly. For this Principal he chose to stack it with a habit he already had, eating breakfast daily.

Three weeks later I received my own note of gratitude from the Principal, “Over the past three weeks, I have written one to four notes each morning and have placed them in boxes when I arrive at school.  Usually, by lunch, I have received a thank you from the people I had given them to.  They are touched, feel cared for, and can not express enough how the words I shared positively affected them.  The whole building has transformed.”

This backward map process can be used to obtain any desire you want for your classroom, school and/or district. The most important piece is making sure you take the time to reflect on what your true desire, goal and habits are. Here are two more examples to see what it looks like at the district and classroom levels:

LevelDesireGoalHabit
DistrictIncreasing student achievement Use Instructional Framework as anchor in all PDAll professional developments will reference which instructional framework component the pd is connected to.
ClassroomSelf-Directed LearnersStudents reflect on their learningAt the end of the day, I will give five minutes for students to reflect on their learning for the day.

Why We Need Professional Learning Teams

“Unity is strength. . . when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” By Mattie Stepanek

Traveling across the country and working with districts I get to witness, interact and work with many different teams. I have started noticing a pattern no matter if the districts are large, with many schools, or if it is a district that is small with three schools, the way they work together is all the same.

The Cabinet level has an idea of how to improve X in their district. They inform the central office departments that need to know the information, then the central office tells the principals who inform the school building. This style of delivery chain works in silos yet we know based on Hattie’s work, collective efficacy has the highest effect on student achievement, so why are we still working in silos this way?

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I believe that we need to create Professional Learning Teams (PLT) for different topics/initiatives that work together cross-functionally.  PLTs would work similarly like PLCs would such as designing together, analyzing data, creating action steps and allowing everyone to have a voice. For example, if a district goal is implementing personalized learning, they should create a PLT of multiple stakeholders and move the work forward together.

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By doing this, you break silos, have clearer communication of delivery chains and one person doesn’t own all the content knowledge. Teams continually build trust, learn together and challenge the status quo in order to do what is best for all students.

I would love to hear your thoughts or ideas, add them to the comments.

My Book Recommendations: Fall Edition

“I read a book one day and my whole life was changed.” By Orhan Pamuk

If you have been reading my blog you know I LOVE to read! If you haven’t been reading my blog, you now know. I like to share the books I read with others because I am a believer in knowledge is power and that we all need to work together. I usually share my book recommendations about three times a year. Here is my Fall edition in no particular order.

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  1. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Malone Scott
    • This book explains how you can become a Kick-Ass boss to build sound relationships, achieve results, and create a better workplace. This is not a typical education book which is why I like it even better because it has so many great ideas we can apply to education sector.
  2. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
    • This book changed my life. I have not only improved my habits but I have been using the formula with educators all over the country to help change classroom habits that we either need to build or change.
  3. The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Health
    • Moments shape our lives; this book discusses how we can create impactful moments for others. As educators creating moments for students is a lot of what we do but how can we make these moments more impactful. This book share lots of ideas ands I guarantee will spark some new ideas for you.
  4. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone
    • Feedback builds personal and professional growth. Feedback is a difficult conversation for both the giver and the receiver. This book discusses the three feedback triggers and the three things you need to give effective feedback.
  5. Personalized Professional Learning: A Job-Embedded Pathway for Elevating Teacher Voice by Allison Rodman
    • Learn how to transform existing professional development programs into innovative, empowering learning experiences that meet staff’s real needs and align with school and district priorities. A must read!
  6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
    • Another book about habits that I have enjoyed and learned a lot from! This book explains more about why habits exist and how we can change them.
  7. Liminal Thinking Create the Change You Want by Changing the Way You Think
    by Dave Gray

    • I am a big advocate for how we in education need to think differently. This book explains nine practices of how to change our thinking so we can change the world.
  8. Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
    • This book is about how to influence others by letting them steal from your ideas. In education we need to do a better job of sharing what we know and our work to help others and spark ideas. This book does a great job of sharing how to do this without being a self-promoter. From the author same author of Steal Like an Artist that I have mentioned in previous book recommendations and don’t be surprised to see his third book in the next recommendation list!

The book I am most excited about (and already pre-ordered) is coming out this Fall: The NEW Team Habits: A Guide to The New School Rules by Anthony KimKeara Mascarenaz and Kawai Lai. 

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I would love to hear any book recommendations you have, please share in the comments. Happy Reading!