Monday, July 7, 2014

Hooked on Twitter Chats

I jumped in about 6 months ago, and now I'm hooked.  That is, Twitter chats.  At first I felt nervous to participate and was self-conscious of my low number of followers compared to the rock stars I was encountering.  I have been working, thinking, and collaborating for 27 years to hone my craft.  I figured, what the heck?  Although Twitter chats are new to me, I do have good thoughts to contribute and can learn a lot in the process.

I'm going to try to put into words my thoughts, tips, and what I feel is so swell about interacting with strangers on Twitter.

1.  Those strangers aren't strangers for long.  Once you interact with collegues from across the country on a thought-provoking series of questions around a topic of common interest, you learn a lot about fellow participants pretty quickly.  That in only 140 characters at a time!  It's amazing how I run into familiar faces in different chats throughout the week.

2.  Twitter chats are full of warm fuzzies.  I've found participants in Twitter chats to be polite, encouraging, and renewing.  Every time I've participated in a chat, I've left feeling so proud of the profession I've chosen.  

3.  I'm a lot like Pavlov's dogs...  I drool every time I hear my alert bell indicating a new favorite, retweet, mention, or follow.  It may seem shallow that these aforementioned notifications make me giddy.  They just do.  You fellow Twitter chat junkies know what I mean.  It's a little thing, but it's affirming.

4.  For me, Tweetdeck is THE tool.  I have separate, customizable columns that allow me to see the hashtag, mentions, and specified notifications (favorites, retweets) all at the same time.  I keep all of my favorite Twitter hashtags in columns, and just rearrange the current chat so that it is next to my mentions and notification columns.  Some of the bigger chats with lots of participants go pretty fast, and I don't want to miss anything.  Oh, and it auto-refreshes.  Nice.

5.  I'm not limited to learn from people in my own district.  I'm making professional connections with people from all over the country, and learning from all of them.  It's affirming to me that we are all educators with very similar goals, challenges, ideas, lingo, techniques... no matter where we live.  It's unifying.

6.  Although highly unnecessary, it's kinda fun to take part in Twitter chats while among actual people.  It's great fun to participate in a fast-paced chat while sitting on your deck with a tall iced tea in hand, but it adds just a little something to gather with some friends at the local DQ or coffee shop for some parallel play.  Having actual running commentary along with the virtual running commentary is pretty fun.  It's also a great way to help colleagues get started in Twitter chats if they're new.

7.  Here are a handful of chats I like... (a handful of these are on hiatus for the summer)
  • #DUBchat - Is a chat for Dublin Schools (my district), and a fair number of crashers.  All are welcome!  Thursdays at 7:00pm, but moving to Tuesdays at 7:00 in August.
  • #OhEdchat - I do like an opportunity to get to know folks I will likely encounter in person at OETC.  Mondays at 9:00pm.
  • #EdChat - This is the biggie.  All the heavy hitters are here.  Huge, fast-paced, and intense.  Tuesdays at noon and 7:00pm. 
  • #NBTchat - No Box Thinking chat is refreshing, out-of-the-box topics around the craft of teaching.  Sundays at 8:00pm with pre-chat at 7:30pm.
  • #COLchat - Culture of Learning chat is focused on creating the ideal classroom learning environment.  Mondays at 9:00pm.
  • #TLAP - Teach Like a Pirate - C'mon!  The name alone should make you want to check it out!  Mondays at 9:00pm.
  • #NT2T - New Teachers to Twitter is great for educators new to Twitter chats to learn the ropes.
My suggestion is to give Twitter chats a try.  Pick one of the chats I've listed above, or Google "education twitter chats."  Pick a chat that looks interesting.  Put it in your calendar, and set an alert so you won't forget.  Lurk at first, learn the ropes with your water wings on, then dive into the deep end.  You won't be sorry!

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