Today’s blog is a guest post from Tobie Taylor Jones, who has been a long time member of my global PLN. Tobie is a Grade 6 Maths teacher in Bentonville, Arkansas, USA. She is passionate about building rapport with learners, creating a positive culture for learning, and helping everyone learn to love Mathematics. She is also extremely passionate about integrating technologies and is an incredible contributor on Twitter through various online chats.
On Thursday, August 6, 2015, I had the great pleasure of co-hosting #whatisschool. When the amazing Craig Kemp asked me if I was interested in co-hosting, I felt excited and incredibly lucky. I immediately said, “Yes!!!”
#whatisschool was created by Craig Kemp and Laura Hill, and it is one of the biggest educational Twitter chats on all of Twitter often experiencing a Twitter reach in the tens of millions. I must confess that, along with my feelings of excitement and honor, I experienced a ripple of complete fear run through me as I actually pictured myself co-hosting a chat of this size. What if I completely “fell on my face?” What if I offended someone in the Twitterverse?
What if, worst of all, I were to some way let down one of my very favorite members of my PLN, @mrkempnz? All of these thoughts swirled through my head even though I had said yes immediately. One good thing was that my school’s annual back-to-school staff cookout was scheduled for the same night – this means most of my local colleagues would not see me “fall on my face” (if that were to happen).
As I mauled over all of these thoughts, I finally realized it was time to “walk the walk.” What I mean is, I challenge my students to take risks all the time! I go on and on about how much mistakes are welcome and not being afraid to fail! And here I was panicking. I decided right then and there I was going to do this. My co-host for that night was Dr. Mark Weston, and I knew I could learn a great deal from him. I had to take this risk!
So… thinking of hosting a Twitter chat? Here’s what I learned:
- Select a topic and prepare the questions (about six questions work well for a chat of this size that lasts one hour). Fortunately for me, Craig created the topic and questions.
- Create a call sheet. This is a schedule for how the chat will flow. I set alarms on my phone to alert me when to take a particular action during the chat itself (i.e. when to Tweet questions).
- As a moderator, it can be helpful to type out your own answers ahead of time. I typed mine in a Word document so that it simply took a quick copy and paste to Tweet them.
- Create canva cards so that the questions look attractive. www.canva.com is a great digital tool for this.
- Promote your chat! Tweet and Re-Tweet information about your chat, especially during the hour before the chat begins.
- When the chat begins, take the time to personally greet as many participants as possible. Kindly remind everyone to use the hashtag in all of their Tweets.
- During the chat, keep the conversation going by asking follow-up questions (in response to answers to the original questions) and praising those Tweets you enjoy.
- As the chat ends, thank everyone for participating and encourage everyone to keep the learning going by following each other.
- Finally, archive your chat! www.storify.com is a great digital tool for this. Click here for Craig’s blog post on how to Storify a Twitter Chat.
Hosting a Twitter chat may seem scary at first, but please take the risk! Don’t be fearful of making a mistake. If you tend to lurk during chats, take a risk! Tweet an answer to at least one question and follow one new person. Twitter is arguably the best free professional development anywhere – get out there and get Tweeting!
I would be remiss if I did not give credit to @mrkempnz and @candylandcaper for my great experience hosting a chat of this size. They have created and founded one of the most successful educational chats on all of Twitter.
My experience was great because of their great work. Also, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from @ShiftParadigm. I look forward to having another chance to co-host with him again. Thank you to all of you for this opportunity. And don’t forget to join #whatisschool every Thursday 7 PM EDT. You will be glad you did!