Spreading Your Professional Wings With Twitter

07 Dec 2021

Learn how and why Twitter can be a great collaborative tool for educators. Taren Long recently embarked on a Twitter journey after organizers of a professional development conference requested her social media handles. Long quickly learned that Twitter is an effective platform for finding and sharing inspirational ideas in education. Twitter is also an avenue to contribute—via tweet, ideas, questions and experiences—and gain feedback from a wider professional audience.

Taren Long, Middle School Math Teacher

The following was written by Taren Long, a math teacher and DoD STEM Ambassador. DoD STEM Ambassadors work with the Defense STEM Education Consortium (DSEC) to advance STEM outreach for students who are underrepresented in STEM and/or military connected. Long was selected by MATHCOUNTS, a DSEC partner, as their DoD STEM ambassador for the 2020-2021 school year.

I opened my email recently and, among no less than a billion emails from faculty, families, and students, I read this email:

DoD STEM Quarterly Meeting Email

The email went on to invite me and my students to be featured in an upcoming virtual workshop, along with other opportunities to reach out to a wider audience of educators. But then I saw it: 

Social Media Link

My social handles?

But I don’t… USE social media.

My work as a MATHCOUNTS coach led to being selected as a DoD STEM Teacher Ambassador during the program’s inaugural year. Working with both these organizations has provided many opportunities to learn more about effective STEM education and to share what I love about teaching. The email above was from a representative of an organization who attended one of my recent presentations.

I was excited to become involved with this organization! At the same time, I was terrified. I didn’t even know where to begin with social media. I reached out to some educator friends, got a quick tutorial, and then… I opened my own Twitter account.


When I was first exploring the idea of using Twitter for professional purposes, I wanted to know what made Twitter better for my purposes than other social media. This is what I learned:

  • Twitter offers a large, diverse, professional learning community. I am the only 7th- and 8th-grade math teacher in my school. I am a team of one, and Pinterest boards are far from a productive collaborative environment.
  • Lurking is approved recommended! I love to learn about education, but I HATE being put on the spot and asked to “share.” On Twitter, no one expects you to come up with your own ideas. Sharing is caring.
  • Shortest. Professional development. Ever. In an age where we all need time for self-care, another hour-long professional development is one of the last things on my wish list.


Gone are the days of having to post your own answer to a discussion prompt before you can see other responses. Twitter provides a collaborative platform for liking, sharing and creating posts; participating in chats; or sitting back and scrolling through, reading short snippets of information to see what inspires you.


Stage 1: Lurking

Lurking on Twitter is like sitting in on a virtual meeting with your mic muted. To lurk, you can search specific words or hashtags. A hashtag (#) is added to the front of a word or phrase to tag that tweet in a specific category. Twitter users add multiple hashtags to posts, so you can quickly get more ideas of topics to explore or other users you might want to follow, which makes their tweets appear on your homepage.

Stage 2: Retweeting

Retweeting, aka sharing tweets, is a great way to spread good ideas even further. You can retweet exactly what you read or add your own thoughts and additional hashtags when you share the tweet.

Stage 3: Tweeting

Replying to Other Tweets

If you are like me, you nearly replied to tweets a dozen times the first day you started using Twitter because you didn’t know how to view replies. (If you haven’t started yet, click the post to see the post and replies.)

Either way, once you are actually ready to reply, simply click the comment button, add your thoughts and BOOM. You’ve participated. Have a sticker.

Creating Your Own Tweets

These are the two most important things to remember:

  1. The Internet is forever.
  2. Use hashtags if you want people to see your tweet.

Consider following people and retweeting to build up followers and increase the pool of people who will see your tweets on their homepage. I had maybe three followers when I posted my first tweet... If you want to know what I tweeted, you’ll have to find my page and check it out! 

Share upcoming events, conferences or professional development

Other than tweeting about your classroom, planning and instruction, another great way to use Twitter is to share (and learn about) upcoming events, professional development and conferences. Conferences LOVE for you to share when you are going to present because it encourages people to register for their event. 

If you found my Twitter, you will see I figured that out about 10 minutes before I presented at a virtual conference this year. Whoops. Clearly, I rate myself as “beginning to develop” in this skill.


Moving forward, I am excited to learn and share ideas from the classroom and professional experiences like conferences. In the meantime read DoD STEM Ambassador Genevieve Esmende’s post Building Your Professional Educational Community Through Twitter for advice for using Twitter to find professional development opportunities.


Taren Long is a middle school math teacher at Chesapeake Public Charter School in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. She attended St. Mary’s College and received a bachelor’s and master’s in teaching. Long is National Board Certified and was honored as a SMECO Teacher of the Year in 2018. Her school focuses on the whole child and building relationships to engage students in active learning. For example, during The Hunger Games Project students read the book, The Hunger Games, in English language arts and learn archery in physical education. Math lessons cover probability and students conduct mock reapings (explained in the book). Student groups are “districts” where they conduct a reaping for a tribute. Social studies covers propaganda and students create posters and advertisements to build support for their tribute. Science focuses on genetics and mutations and students create “mutts” for the Hunger Games team competition.


MATHCOUNTS’ mission is to engage U.S. middle school students of all ability levels in math programs that build confidence, promote excellence and improve attitudes about math and problem solving. Its nationwide activities cover competitions, after-school clubs and an annual video challenge that strive to make learning math fun. MATHCOUNTS’ role in the Defense STEM Education Consortium is to expand club availability in areas close to DoD labs and military-connected students. For more information, visit mathcounts.org.