Note to readers: While this post started as a list of my favorite Twitter Hashtags for Educators, Radical Nation has started to remind me about other hashtags that readers might be interested in. 

That means this post is a work in progress! If you see a hashtag that I haven’t mentioned, leave me a comment and I’ll add it to the list!

After presenting to a group of preservice teachers last night on technology, I realized that the most powerful change to come to education in the past 10 years has been our ability as practitioners to organize without permission.

Social media spaces like Twitter, Facebook and the Blogosphere give us the chance to network and to study together beyond the walls of our school—and outside of the ever-present eye of the professional organizations that have traditionally driven conversations on behalf of practitioners.

For the first time, I feel like I have a voice that can’t be silenced or controlled by people who have more organizational power than I do.  And that’s just plain empowering.

Anyone who’s read the Radical for a while knows that my social media space of choice is Twitter.

It’s perfect for me because conversations are asynchronous, allowing anytime/anywhere participation.  It’s also perfect for me because conversations are built around 140-character messages, allowing quick skimming.

But that doesn’t mean the conversations in Twitter aren’t powerful.

In fact, rarely a day goes by that I don’t come across links to important articles on issues—merit pay, high poverty schools, using technology in the classroom, preparing kids for a poorly defined future—that matter to me.

Rarely a day goes by that I don’t come across controversial ideas or difficult questions that make me think.  Rarely a day goes by that I don’t feel a real connection with a colleague—lending support, sharing a celebration, venting a frustration.

While my conversations almost always start by browsing through the posts made by the people that I follow directly in Twitter, I also poke through several conversations which are organized by common hashtags—short identifiers starting with # that Twitter users add to the end of specific posts to sort them into easily searchable categories.

Here are the Twitter Hashtags that I poke through the most frequently:

  • #edchat:  Perhaps the most active Twitter hashtag for educators, #edchat is used for about a million different purposes. Sometimes, Twitter users will add it to the end of a post that includes a resource that they think other teachers might be interested in.  Other times, Twitter users will add it to the end of a post with a question that they’re looking for guidance on. #edchat is also used to sort the posts added to regular weekly conversations coordinated by the members of The Educator’s PLN.  While I typically choose to participate in the #edchat that happens on Tuesday nights between 7-8, there are other conversations that may fit your schedule better.
  • #cpchat:  While #cpchat is one of the newer education hashtags in Twitter, it’s one of my favorites because it includes content being shared and questions being asked by—and for—school leaders.  As a guy who understands only too well how important principals are to the success and failure of schools, I’m INCREDIBLY thankful anytime I can find a resource that will help school leaders to do their jobs better—and those are exactly the kinds of resources that I find tagged with #cpchat in Twitter. If you’ve got a principal that you want to turn on to technology as a learning tool, just point them to this Twitter stream.  You’ll have ‘em hooked like a tuna in no time.
  • #edreform and/or #edpolicy:  Alright, so I’ll admit it—I’m a bit of an educational policy geek.  Not because I actually LIKE ed policy, but because I’m sick of Oprahganda ruining my profession.  That’s why the #edreform and #edpolicy hashtags are so valuable to me.  Twitter users who are writing, reading and thinking about the policies that are changing our profession use these tags to sort their messages into searchable categories—making those same messages easier for me to find.
  • #socialmedia: While not specifically designed as a networking hashtag for educators, I find the content shared in the #socialmedia hashtag to be incredibly interesting and important for teachers. After all, social media services are here to stay and they’re changing the way that EVERYONE interacts and learns.  Our job as educators is to figure out how those services can be used to make learning more efficient—and then to share those lessons with our kids. The #socialmedia hashtag helps me to stay on top of the latest trends in social media use, and that information can be invaluable as I try to figure out next steps for teaching and learning in the 21st Century.

Now, the hashtags that matter the most to me might not be the same as the hashtags that matter the most to you.  That’s the beauty of social media spaces, after all.  We can customize them to match our own interests.

If you’re a social studies teacher, you’ll love #sschat.  If your an English teacher, you’ll love #engchat.  If you’re a music teacher, you’ll love #musiced.  If you’re a math teacher, you’ll love #mathchat.

Here are other Twitter hashtags—suggested by Radical Nation readers—that educators are likely to find value in:

  • #ntchat: Barbara Murray pointed me to one of the potentially most important Twitter Hashtags for Educators when she asked me what #ntchat stood for.  The answer:  Twitter users add #ntchat to the end of a post that includes resources that new teachers might find valuable.  Imagine how valuable THAT is? So many new teachers trudge along feeling completely isolated and helpless—explaining the ridiculous turnover rates in education.  #ntchat can provide them with instant access to great ideas and support.
  • #spedchat: Damian Bariexca—a great digital friend working as a school psychologist and blogging over at A Pace of Change—pointed me to #spedchat yesterday.  “While the group currently consists of a handful of thoughtful & reflective special educators, related service providers, and parents,” Damian writes, “I’d also love to see more general education teachers participate, as consensus seems to be that there is often some sort of a gap between general ed and special ed teachers. “Getting together to talk about our problems and our successes across disciplines seems to be a great way to eliminate that gap.”

No matter WHAT your interests are, you can find people in Twitter that are driven by the same kinds of things that motivate you.  They’re sharing resources and asking questions, too.

Join them.  Raise your voice and take control of your own learning for a change.  Join the Participation Nation.

You’ll finally find that you do have a voice.

And that’s a good feeling.

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