That was the world before hashtags.
The habits of Humans of the Internet have not really changed so much. We're still doing the same stuff, only now we're following conversations using hashtags, and it's all happening on Twitter.
This is what I look like rockin' it out to #engchat on Monday nights. It is no coincidence that my maximum nerdiness is also my maximum comfort.
S T E P O N E : F I N D A C H A T
There are dozens of chats happening weekly or monthly on Twitter, and it's really up to you to find where your interests and your schedule overlap. Some very generous educators created a schedule of all the education chats that take place each week. Check it out!
Chats typically last one hour, and are defined by their hashtags (like #engchat).
S T E P T W O : J O I N A C H A T
In Tweetdeck (or other Twitter application), search the hashtag you wish to follow. Once it is open in its own column, you will be able to see all of the tweets that are within that conversation in one place.
Remember, in order to be filtered into the chat, each tweet must include the chat's hashtag.
A chat will typically have a moderator who asks questions and helps facilitate the discussion. There might be a specific topic to be discussed, and the moderator's questions will give the chat some direction.
At the beginning of the chat, feel free to introduce yourself. I usually tweet something like: Hi everyone! I'm Amal, and I teach 10th graders in NYC. #hashtag
Most of the time, the chat will use the Q1, Q2, Q3 ... and A1, A2, A3 ... format to help everyone organize questions and answers. The moderator of the chat will tweet Q1 + question to discuss + #hashtag, and the participants will respond with A1 + answer to that question = #hashtag, and so on. It can become overwhelming if lots of tweets are coming in simultaneously, but this should not cause you anxiety. No one takes attendance, there are no points for participation, and nothing happens if you zone out or go to the bathroom. You're just doing this for you.
Plus, there'll be an archive later. You can usually find it on that chat's website.
S T E P T W O - A N D - A - H A L F : D O N ' T B E S C A R E D
When I first discovered Twitter chats, I was too big of a weenie to actually join one. I mostly stalked the hashtag from the safety of my little apartment and read what other people's ideas were, without contributing my own.
This is a totally legal move, and maybe it's okay for your first time or two, but definitely jump in and contribute. It's a safe and friendly community.
S T E P T H R E E : C R E A T E Y O U R P . D .
I love the ways Twitter has helped me make my own professional development, but I certainly don't let it stress me out. Yes, there are dozens of chats I could participate in each week, but the truth is, I don't. I like to enjoy New York City and see my friends in real life and make dinner and sometimes I'm just too tired from teaching to think more about teaching. And it's all really okay.
It's also okay, and encouraged, to find and connect with educators through these chats whose interests are similar to your own. I've greatly expanded my PLN (personal learning network -- gosh, don't educational acronyms bum you out no matter how useful they are?) through chats.
Although I don't participate in all chats, and I don't participate with very much regularity, I do have some favorites:
- #engchat - Duh. English teachers are clearly my people, and I try to join #engchat as often as I can. And! I'm moderating #engchat tomorrow night in a discussion of the role of morality in the classroom. Be there!
- #edchat - I don't schedule this one at all, but sort of just keep the column open on my Tweetdeck to see what's up in education world.
- #satchat and #sunchat - If you're up to it on weekend mornings, these are pretty great discussions with a variety of topics.
- #tlap - Dave Burgess's book was a big hit in teacher world last year, and this weekly chat can incite some passion.
- #21stedchat - I'm a sucker for the happy place where education meets technology, and I love being inspired by others' creativity in this area.
And, of course, you can make your own! The possibilities are pretty endless.
I hope this Twitter series on Hello Homeroom has encouraged you to take control of your PD and your PLN! In case you missed it, here are Part I, Part II, and Part III.
Will you join for tomorrow's #engchat? 7pm, friends!