Last month we finally put in place something that I had wanted to do for a long while, have a Twitter chat with teachers from my district. The reason for this was to create an opportunity to have discussions that we normally do not get to have due to time or location. We are a good sized district and do not have many opportunities for teachers from other schools to get together. We even have a hard time getting teachers in the same building together to have conversations. By having a Twitter chat we were able to begin this process and will hopefully be able to engage more of our teachers in the conversations that we want to have.
I have participated in a good number of Twitter chats in the last couple of years and always walk away with some new ideas or a different perspective to the issues that we face as educators. Twitter chats end up being the positive version of the teacher lunch room, because it is only those that want to be there that are participating (similar to an Edcamp). Too often we get dragged down into the negative space created by others and do not end up having discussions that are positive and directed towards growth and learning. I have yet to experience a Twitter chat that was focused on education that got sidetracked by negative posts or people, but have experienced that same thing in lunch rooms too many times over the years.
Luckily I had a great co-moderator, @HSeslteacher, who had helped to moderate Twitter chats before and brought that experience to help in our planning. You can read her blog post on our district Teacher Leader site here. We also had other teachers who had wanted to do something like this but had never participated in a Twitter chat and were nervous. By having a district chat we kept the numbers low enough to ease them into the experience but high enough to have a robust discussion. Part of this was the result of our all-district technology professional development in October in which we were able to share the power of Twitter with some of our teachers.
Our plan is to keep this growing and try to engage more teachers as we go. We know we need to get more of our middle school and elementary teachers involved and may even have some chats directed towards a subset of our groups. We need to keep going forward and have those conversations that are needed as part of our learning as educators. We can do so much more when we work together and push each other to grow, which is why I got involved in Twitter chats in the first place.