Chatting With Connected Principals: Twitter Tools and Top Ideas

By Rosie O’Brien Vojtek Communicator November 2013, Volume 37, Issue 3

By Rosie O’Brien Vojtek
November 2013, Volume 37, Issue 3

It’s Wednesday night, October 30, 2013. Game six of the World Series between the Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals is just beginning at Fenway Park. At that same moment, in many different places across the country, principals and teachers are anxiously awaiting the first tweet of a Connected Principals twitter chat (#cpchat). This was the fourth chat in a series that NAESP, NASSP, and Connected Principals hosted in honor of Connected Educators Month.

So, World Series or Twitter—which would you choose?

Me? Why, both, of course!

You could call us geeks, or call us crazy. I’d call us great multi-taskers. The big question is, what were we all doing there? Over the course of the chat, someone would occasionally mention the score or the game, but for most of the hour, educators were rapidly tweeting, creating a treasure trove of ideas for fellow educators to explore.

So, ultimately, what can administrators learn and how can we manage the information we get by connecting with others through Twitter?

Managing Chats

If you’re new to Twitter, chats occur when a group of people all tweet about the same topic at a designated time using a specific tag (a hashtag). During Connected Educator Month, educators shared thousands of tweets that inform learning, challenge thinking, and provide ideas, suggestions, and exemplary models that administrators can use and share with their school communities.

Tweet-chatting involves multi-tasking: following a conversation while exploring links, or even juggling parental responsibilities or cooking dinner. A strategy I use while tweet-chatting is that when I see a link that catches my eye, I immediately open the link in a new tab. Then, after the chat, I explore each link more fully. It is not uncommon for me to have 25-30 tabs open in my browser when the chat is over. (I only hope I don’t lose power before I check them all out and bookmark them in my favorites list!)

To catch up on the latest tweets from a chat, followers can search in Twitter using the chat’s hasthag (#cpchat, for instance) or a specific user (@NAESP). Once you start digging into Twitter chats, there are tools you can use to capture and archive tweets, such as the program HootSuite. Below are my favorite resources for organizing or collecting online information that I either shared during chats or learned about during Connected Educator Month, along with a wealth of ideas from Twitter.

Discover more information and ideas by checking out the four October Connected Principal chats, archived at

So, are Twitter chats worth it? Check out the links below, and you tell me.

Rosie O’Brien Vojtek is principal at Ivy Drive Elementary School in Bristol, Connecticut, and current president of the ISTE Special Interest Group for Administrators. Follow her at @rvojtek.

7 Tools for Organzing Online Information

Tweetdeck is an app that’s great for organizing your tweets. Use it to create your own columns, arrange your feeds, and monitor and manage your tweets.

Tweeted Times Newspaper
The Tweeted Times is a program that creates a real-time, personalized “newspaper” generated from your Twitter account. You can create a newspaper for any topic, as well. Here is a copy of my Tweeted Times:!/rvojtek

Scoop-It is a tool that collects the latest trends and ideas being shared and helps users publish across social media.

Storify allows users to collect social media content and arrange it into a “story” form.

Add Stumbleupon as an app or simply follow @stumbleupon. Users can give a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to content, and Stumbleupon will send the latest nuggets your way.

This is a favorite for the teachers at my school! Pinterest creates online bulletin boards, and on it, educators are sharing lessons, activities, and new ideas.

Ted Talks
Ted Talks bring viewers the best keynote speakers on numerous topics. Follow @TEDNews, @tedtalks, and @TED_Tweets to learn about the latest speakers, and share them with your teachers and/or school community.

Twitter Ideas to Share

Twitter is a powerful medium for professional learning, sharing ideas among colleagues, finding solutions for problems, and networking. Here are several #cpchat tweets that offer the kinds of golden nuggets that Twitter chats can provide—be sure to click the links for more information:

Tony Sinanis (@Cantiague_Lead): We use social media to spread our kids’ voices- check out our latest Video Update. We tell OUR story:

We use Storify to reach people! Check it out:

Reed Gillespie (@rggillespie):Every Friday, I randomly call 5 parents. Receive valuable feedback.

Joe Mazza (@Joe_Mazza): Great reflection on educational branding for today’s leaders by @Ed2BeFree.

Rockstar Principals (@RckStrPrincipal): Be sure to check out our podcast.

Tracy Watanbe (@tracywatanabe): [I use my blog to] share ideas/resources to district. [For instance, this post on] close reading:

Glenn Robbins (@Glennr1809): I created a Pinterest page for staff to gather new ideas. Also, I designed and implemented an app for our school to connect parents.

Daniel Zeitz (@DanielZeitz): RT @edutopia: Tips to help administrators to help build better relationships with #teachers:

Dwight Carter (@Dwight_Carter): Here’s my weekly staff blog. Looking forward to including staff submissions.

Heart of Missouri PLC (@HOMPLC): 4 Caution Lights For School Leaders:

Justin Tarte (@justintarte): I just got “I’m in the Principal’s Seat, Now What?” by @abonilla11. Looks like a great read!

Ronna Kawsky (@RKawsky): RT @mattwachel: Five key strategies to get/keep kids engaged at school

Shelly Terrell (@ShellTerrell): 8 things we can’t accept in education: #cpchat #edreform

SchoolReach (@SchoolReach): What lessons have we learned from recent events of school violence? Answers here:

Balefire Labs (@BalefireLabs): 9 Steps For #Schools To Create Their Own #BYOD Policy

Andrew S. Fleury (@andrew_fleury): RT @DrKatieCollier: What Amazing Leaders Do Differently | LinkedIn

Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin) RT @NASSP: We just released the Principal’s PR Portal:

National School Climate Center (@school_climate): Beyond the Bully: Restoring Civility to America’s Schools

Erin Mason (@ecmmason): RT @school_climate: Schools, Violence, and Mental Health:

Tess Pajaron (@Tessedel): Student Affairs in the Digital Age via @EdCabellon:

Chris Smith (@shamblesguru): Ken Robinson: How to escape education’s Death Valley:

Mel Riddile (@PrincipalDiff): Parent Toolkit: Resources for parents by grade level:

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