I participated in my first Twitter Chat last night on a teaching hashtag. As soon as I introduced myself in a tweet, I was direct-messaged by two other teachers, both saying “hold onto your hat!”. Wow – they weren’t kidding (and thanks for the heads up!). I was literally spinning, clicking, thinking, absorbing, catching up, learning and panicking all at once for about an hour. Whew. But yes, I’d do it again. I’ll get to that.
If you have not participated in a Twitter Chat, it is basically a pre-arranged online meeting that is organized and viewed by all participants using the same hashtag. Last night was a Thames Valley organized chat. Using the same hashtag allows viewers to follow all the tweets by everyone else using the same hashtag. A list of questions is typically tweeted out at an earlier time so you can be semi-“prepared” for participating fully. There is also a moderator – someone who sends out the reminders and posts questions in a timely manner during the one hour chat. This is important as teachers like to talk and share and if someone wasn’t prompting the next question we could easily spend an hour tweeting about one topic! It can become a bit of a rabbit hole.
The rapid fire dings (email alerts that one of my tweets was re-tweeted or liked) prompts further replies and responses, which then means 8 to 10 new tweets have been posted that you need to go back and catch up on to maybe offer your expertise or opinion. It’s a lot to monitor all at once and I felt like I was never fully caught up or was maybe missing some good conversation. However, the super-fast pace keep it kind of fun (in a good-stressful way) and the hour flew by! Once the hour is done, the tweets do not disappear so there is lots of time to go back and revisit ideas, links and re-tweets from others in the chat. Storifying is a cool way to take a twitter chat and turn it into a document that can be saved or forwarded.
Why would I participate again? I could simply visit a few chat hashtags to examine the posts after the fact and learn from all the brilliant educators out there. However, over the course of the night, I had gained a number of new Twitter followers and followed some new faces myself. That means my Personal Learning Network (PLN) grew. This is meaningful to me. It is also satisfying to receive 15 ‘likes’ and have your thoughts re-tweeted by others. It’s a fly-by-your pants professional conversation with people you’d never have the chance to network with otherwise. It reconfirms the good stuff that is going on in my classroom and inspires me to dig deeper or try new things.
Next steps: participate in a chat outside of my Thames Valley network. I’d really like to participate in a chat moderated by a favourite author of mine from Illinois. This Thames Valley chat was my first step in becoming savvy and quick enough to participate in a bigger north american chat. Time to set up my TweetDeck and get my game on! Ha ha. And hold onto my hat.