I participated in my first Twitter Chat the other night.
Every Monday night at 8:00 pm PST a group of TOSAs (that’s the acronym for Teacher on Special Assignment, of which I am one) gather together on Twitter to chat about all things TOSA. Being a TOSA is an interesting balance. Teachers no longer view you as a teacher, but you are not an administrator either. Somehow, you must find a way to work with both groups without actually being a part of either one. The #TOSAchat is a great way to connect with other people who find themselves walking that same tight rope.
I first started actively using Twitter as a requirement of the MAET program at MSU. Previously I viewed Twitter as just one more social media account. I didn’t have much interest in it on a personal level.
What I have come to find out is that Twitter is an absolute gem on a professional level. I believe every educator should take advantage of Twitter for its wealth of resources and potential connections.
For some time now I have been a fairly passive participant in the Professional Learning Network (PLN) I have created for myself. I follow a lot of people in ed tech and gain great resources and ideas from the tweets I see. I check in on an almost daily basis. At first I only posted when I had an assignment to add. However, with some encouragement from Leigh and Michelle (my professors from this summer), I began to contribute more. I particularly enjoyed tweeting while at conferences or trainings. By being an active participant in the back channel conversation I have made some great connections.
However, none of that could compare to the experience of my first Twitter chat! Wow! What a crazy experience. Here is how it went:
7:55 pm-Should I check out this Twitter chat? I opened Twitter on my phone.
7:56 pm-Holy moly, there are actual questions and a GoogleDoc with all sorts of organized information and links.
7:57 pm-I better bust out the computer. TweetDeck is going to be necessary to keep up. (Oh that lovely naive impression that I would somehow be able to keep up.)
8:00 pm-Introductions: I knew this part was coming, but a picture too? And my first cell phone? Yikes, what was it?
8:01 pm-Madly Googling images of old cell phones. Found one, I think that was mine. Okay, ready to post my introduction.
8:02 pm-Hi, I’m Debbie, Ed Tech TOSA, Burbank, CA <insert pic of old phone> POST!
8:03 pm-Crap! I forgot to add the hashtag. Delete, delete, delete.
8:05 pm-Hi, I’m Debbie, Ed Tech TOSA, Burbank, CA <insert pic of old phone> #TOSAChat and…POST! Whew…now I am really participating. Let’s do this thing.
8:06 pm-Ok, the first question. Think of something profound to say…..
8:09 pm-Well, I don’t know if it was profound, but A1 is up.
8:09 pm-Oh, what’s that notification? Someone liked one of my posts! That’s so cool.
8:10 pm-Back to the feed. How the heck did I get so far behind already? Must read fast.
8:12 pm-The next question is coming up? Man this is moving fast.
8:14 pm-Cool, another notification. Let me respond.
8:15 pm-Get me back to the feed. We are on question what?
8:21 pm-GoogleHangout? How are these people able to do a GHO and Twitterchat at the same time? They must be superhuman.
8:50 pm-Oh man, now someone is asking me about OneNote. I love OneNote. Gotta give it props.
8:55 pm-How long does this chat last? I bet it ends at 9:00. I hope it ends at 9:00. My eyes are about to fall out of my head.
8:59 pm-And…it’s over. Now I can breath again.
9:10 pm-Someone else says they can never keep up either. Thank goodness. It’s not just me.
Wow! That whirlwind experience was one of the greatest PD experiences I have ever had. I have new followers/connections with other TOSAs who are doing what I am doing. It is one thing to connect with other people in my own district, but through this Twitter chat I am able to connect with educators in other districts. This expands the reach of great ideas I can access. It gives me something to reach and strive for when I see amazing things being accomplished elsewhere. It also allows me an opportunity to share with others some things we are doing in my district.
Even though it was exhausting, I can’t wait until next week.