My story with Twitter chats starts a number years ago. I started off slowly. I did what most other people do and “lurk” during a few chats. When I saw a question that I felt comfortable enough to answer I finally took that leap. This took quite a while for me to feel comfortable and confident with my answers. I always wondered who would really care what I had to say. I wondered if I had enough experiences to share with so many other great educators. I will confess that I didn’t participate in each question but slowly would answer an additional question during each chat. I stuck to chats that focused on areas I knew I could contribute to. These included #MSChat, #PLC, and a grading chat. These chats typically last 30-60 minutes. As I started participating in more chats my confidence grew and I started to gain a few followers. It was a great feeling learning from so many diverse educators around the country on the specific topics of my choosing. It was also a great feeling to have others like what you say or offer another perspective to your comments. I was now to the point where I was participating in multiple chats a week and feeling the confidence to answer each question. I also started commenting on what other individuals had to say. I had finally moved from a consumer of information provided by others to someone that was contributing information for others to learn from. My biggest jump in this area is when I was asked to moderate #MSChat. This provided me a great opportunity to guide and lead discussions using questions of my choice on a specific topic. I have had the opportunity to moderate this chat on multiple occasions and each time I walk away with a ton of new learning and a bunch of new ideas. The most important thing I walk away with is new connections. These connections lead to a great deal of learning. I simply throw questions out and these connections come through with ideas, support, and suggestions. As recently as last week I was asked to moderate a new chat for myself, #CultureEd. The topic was kick-starting culture for the upcoming new school year. Building a strong culture is a primary goal that I have and this provided a great opportunity to get ideas and hear feedback from other individuals around the country.
Why I Chose This Approach To Learning
Ever since I was a student, I have found that when someone makes the learning relevant to me I become much more engaged. I am sure that this is a huge surprise for everyone.
When I found Twitter chats I realized that this was a tool that would provide individualized learning based on my needs, interest, and current school topics. I can jump from talking and learning about middle school education to talking about a subject specific areas. I can learn about the newest technology tool or the newest instructional approach. I can participate in digital book chats with people from around the world. Another huge aspect about Twitter chats is the flexibility it provides my schedule. Balancing family life and work life gets tricky throughout the year. Twitter chats take place during different times and different days of the week. This provides limitless opportunities for learning and growth. Some of the chats that I participate in even happen in the early morning hours before school or on Saturday morning (#satchat). Many times these chats are archived using a variety of tools so that you can always go back later. Another way to look back on these discussions is the chat specific hashtag. By searching a specific hashtag you are able to look back on historical tweets that include the hashtag.
You need to create your own why when it comes to doing anything, this is especially true in the areas of learning and individual growth. Joining in on a Twitter chats is not any different. I hope that after reading this I have done enough to convince you to try your first Twitter chat. If you still need a bit more convincing feel free to Vox me or Tweet me and I will push you over the edge. I hope that I have helped in a small part to push you to find a hashtag that interests you. I hope that if you have never done a chat before you are now excited to find a chat that focuses in on an area that you are passionate about. Feel free to follow along and lurk or take that leap and jump right in. Nothing bad can happen when you put your thoughts and ideas out. These chats also give you an outlet to talk about the great things you are doing in your own learning environments. They allow you to get feedback from other individuals not involved in your organization. If you already do Twitter chats I would really like to hear what your why is. We all have different why’s that drive us as learners and educators. I am sure all of our why’s come back to the faces we get to see in our classes and in our buildings.