As far as spaces go, Twitter is a great place for educators.
Over the past decade, Twitter has become a 24/7 space for professional development. Twitter is a place to share, curate, and develop resources. It has allowed teachers everywhere to have access to experts anywhere. One of my favorite applications is the Twitter Chat. Connecting in real time, or sometimes via a #slowchat (see an example of that here) has shifted the way we ‘do’ professional development. If you think a conversation needs to happen, you can curate that discussion.
Here are ten steps to getting involved with a Twitter Chat, and then…initiating your very own:
1. Lurk and Learn
There is no shortage of professional chats happening. Take a look. Read through archived chats, and observe. The #cpchat (connected principals chat) is an interesting hashtag to follow for school leadership teams. The chats are not as regular as other chats, but the hashtag curates wonderful resources by the hour. Here is an example of a question from a #cpchat Twitter chat:
There are two important things to notice: a) in any Twitter chat, you need to use the ‘#’ to tag your Tweet within the conversation b) @TonySinanis starts his Tweet here with ‘Q1,’ which stands for ‘Question 1.’
In the response, you’ll see that @Joesanfelippofc has responded with both the #cpchat AND he starts his Tweet with ‘A1’ standing for ‘Answer 1.’
Participate.com allows you to have a more tailored search for resources shared during chats. It is a great tool for exploring the weekly #satchat (Saturday Chat), and digging into the archived discussions. By selecting ‘chats,’ then ‘see all chats’ you will have access to a calendar of chats happening each day.
3. Go with the flow
By using Tweetdeck, Tweetchat, or Hootsuite--you’ll be able to sip from the specified feed, rather than drink from the firehose of your entire feed. If you aren’t ready to try a public chat, or you want to practice hosting your own chat privately, Today’s Meet is a great way to have a ‘training wheels’ approach to open chats.
4. Bring a friend
No, really. Invite a peer to ‘go with.’ If you are new to chats, it will be helpful to have someone you know in the space. Networking is networking wherever you are, IRL or online. Having one familiar face will help you feel more comfortable–and it will be great to have a colleague to debrief with later on.
5. Google Keep
Just like any other meeting/workshop/discussion, it is a great idea to bring notes to have at the ready AND to have another space to collect thoughts on. Google Keep is perfect for collaborative notes and/or to do lists. It will be too trying to look for links during a chat. I recommend having a few resources, quotes, links ready to go on a Google Keep note before the chat begins.
6. Extend invitations
Build a Twitter List (here’s how) of people who would be interested in a chat you’d like to host. Take the time to personally invite at least 20 people. Here’s a sample chat invite:
#digitalEDchat is up soon. Hope you can join us for world-class learning in #edtech #aussieED #includEDau #edchatnz pic.twitter.com/hTP2e8NGmn
— Stuart Kelly (@stuartkellynz) August 29, 2016
Notice that the invitation has tagged other #’s where there might be an overlap in interest. This is good, but nothing substitutes for a personalized invite. Take the extra step and let people know exactly when the chat is happening in their time zone (this tool helps with that).
7. Promote and remind
As the day and time for the chat nears, remind people. Two of my favorite tools to build Twitter-friendly signage are Canva and Adobe Spark (the image at the top of this post is something I put together with Adobe Spark in two quick minutes).
8. Get the questions out there early
Providing access to the chat’s questions in advance will allow participants to put more thought into their answers. It will also allow people to track down resources in advance. Lastly, it will encourage them to invite other people in. Click here to have a look at a list of recently explored questions during this #edtechchat meetup. Some moderators will even provide an exact time for questions to be prompted, here’s an example of that style.
9. Curate the conversation
Once the chat is over, it isn’t really over. Blog about it, archive or use Storify to frame the chat.
10. Always say thank you
Be sure that participants feel appreciated. Every educator is stretched for time. When people carve out an hour to chat, make sure they know their time was valued. If you are participating in someone else’s chat, thank the moderator(s).
Thanks so much @ZeinaChalich. Great chat! Discussing the Digital Classroom is no longer optional. It’s the present not the future. #aussieED
— Brett Salakas (@MRsalakas) August 28, 2016