Someone should have warned me: Twitter education chats (EdChats) can become addictive. I never knew how fast two or three hours could go by as some evenings I participated in chat after chat – and some weeks I chatted every single day.
But if you want to grow your PLN and check in with your loyal colleagues from literally around the world and not miss that great idea you surely will be using in your classroom tomorrow, how can you resist diving into yet another chat where you feel welcomed, understood, and championed?
But I also never knew how difficult it is to cook dinner (or do much of anything else for that matter) and concentrate on a chat. I especially never knew my husband had a “chat look” that he would give me when I pleaded, “Just one more question…”
EdChats are awesome, but they can absorb hours of precious after school time. I would therefore like to offer some suggestions so these chats are as productive as possible, while also allowing for the other duties that demand our attention and while making room for some much-needed downtime.
This outline will also give chat novices a clear idea of how Twitter EdChats generally work.
A 45-minute EdChat
I propose the end of the full one-hour chat. For those who want to do back-to-back chats, a standard 45-minute chat would leave a reliable 15 minutes of breathing room between sessions.
Here is how I believe we could tighten up these chats:
:00 The current chat topic is displayed (1 minute).
Let’s be honest, even within our favorite chat groups there are some topics that are not as personally compelling as others. If participants always knew the topic upfront (and in advance), it would allow them the opportunity to quickly find and plan their most useful chat of the hour, day, or week. We don’t just want high numbers of chat participants, we want actively involved colleagues who are eager to share and learn.
As addictive and empowering as chats can be, there is such a thing as chat burnout. Chat moderators would do well with avoiding rehashing the same old topics and instead craft questions that take the participants towards new perspectives, alternate viewpoints, and deeper, more detailed conversations.
I know from my experiences as a guest moderator how much planning goes into these amazing chats, as well as how much energy and attention it takes to see that a chat runs smoothy with no glitches and with everyone feeling included and heard. Be sure to regularly express your appreciation to your chat moderators! Without their tireless efforts, there would be no chats.
:01 Introductions and welcomes (4 minutes).
The collegial and even familial atmosphere of chats are some of the best parts, but these greetings do not need to last more than four minutes. On with the discussion!
:05 Chat guidelines (1 minute).
As the salutations are ending, participants can be reminded of the Q & A format and the proper hashtag to use at the end of each of their responses. A chat really is only a bunch of posts categorized by the same hashtag, so be sure it is included with all of your relevant chat responses.
:06 Question One/Q1 (6 minutes).
After each question is displayed, all answers (A1 – A6) and interactions are in six-minute segments. This seems like the perfect amount of time to thoughtfully respond to the topic, as well to as one another’s comments.
Of course, there is no time limit for responses and conversations. Some questions may provoke extended responses, and those joining in late are free to answer previously posted questions.
:12 Question Two/Q2 (6 minutes).
These six-minute question intervals allow for a total of six questions within a 45-minute chat. Limiting the topic to six questions allows for a broad discussion without the repetition that can occur in chats consisting of more than six questions.
30-minute chats are great and allow for participating in two different chats in a single hour, but I am often left feeling like the topic did not receive a full enough exploration. I think that 45 minutes is a good compromise, but whatever the total time, the key is to maintain quality and to respect the time of the participants.
:018 Question Three/Q3 (6 minutes).
:024 Question Four/Q4 (6 minutes).
:030 Question Five/Q5 (6 minutes).
:036 Question Six/Q6 (6 minutes).
:42 Closing and congratulations (3 minutes).
During this short wrap-up, the moderator can thank the participants and remind them of upcoming chats and topics. The participants can also thank the moderator and each other for their work and wisdom.
:45 Chat ends.
In the Comments section below, please share your thoughts about improving EdChats.
This article is a companion to my Edutopia article, An Introduction to Twitter Education Chats.
Read the new book by Robert Ward, A Teacher’s Inside Advice to Parents: How Children Thrive with Leadership, Love, Laughter, and Learning.
This book is available directly through the publisher at a 20% discount using the promotion code RLEGEN17 at checkout on the Rowman & Littlefield Publishers website.
More books for educators and parents written by Robert Ward can be found on his Amazon author page.