The Power of the Tweet

October 31, 2011
Riley Johnson

Riley Johnson, Principal at New Technology High School

I was looking for a new way to connect with my students. One of my big pushes this year has been using social media responsibly, as well. Naturally, an idea came straight to my head and the first New Tech Academy Twitter Giveaway was born. I sent out my first tweet about the giveaway and immediately students began asking questions. However, there was one big problem…

I have tweeted for our school (@NewTechAcademy) for over a year now. The power of social media has impacted me greatly. I have connected with teachers around the world, worked with some amazing organizations on project ideas, and shared neat stuff going around our campus.

I first realized how powerful twitter was when I got an idea for a project. We needed to look at human migration, why people move (push/pull factors), and how that movement has impacted the culture of both areas impacted. Immediately the United Nations came to mind! However, being in Fort Wayne, Indiana provided a challenge. I couldn’t take my kids to NYC to experience what the UN had to offer. Our project idea began to grow, but it wasn’t real. We wrote an entry document from the ILO (International Labor Organization) wanting our students to look at the impact that Hispanic immigration has had on the workforce. But again, it wasn’t real! So in came twitter. I sent a generic tweet to the United Nations twitter account. “I am a teacher in Indiana looking to connect with the ILO. Who should I talk to?”. Within 2 hours, I had received a private message back asking what I was looking into. I explained our project and was sent 3 names and contact info. Twitter took a generic “hypothetical” scenario project and made it come to life! We are still in the process of looking at how we can work together, but the fact that a world organization wants to work with 100 Freshman from Indiana shows the power of a single tweet.

Now back to my problem…when I sent my original tweet about the giveaway and students started asking, we only had FOUR of our students following NTA. Those four students were the only ones that knew anything about my new venture to try and connect with the students. Then the amazing happened. Word began to spread… Students would come up and ask what this giveaway was about… Emails were sent left and right… In a course of 8 days the number of students following New Tech Academy on twitter went from 4 to 75. Now I know most of these kids wanted just to win something, but a new door was open. My ability to communicate and connect with my students about school issues, culture, and handling social media responsibly has increased tenfold. It is now my job to use the power of the tweet.