This post started after a conversation I had with a good friend, Susan Maynor. We have moderated a few twitter chats together and as she saw my Google planning documents, she challenged me to share out some tips and tricks to get others thinking about taking the moderator plunge. I have been fortunate to moderate the #lpsleads chat for the past year and am absolutely happy to share how I approach moderating Twitter chats.
My disclaimer is that I am not even close to expert status. The following tips have been generated through practice and are only being shared as some guiding thoughts.
Guiding Thought #1 – Question Creation
My biggest thought when it comes to creating questions is to ensure that no matter what position you hold in relation to education ie: teacher, instructional coach, administrator, district admin, Board of Education, pre-service teacher, PTA, parent, or community member, questions have to be written so ALL can contribute to the conversation.
I tend to get frustrated and lose interest when the following happens in a chat:
- Questions aren’t thought out and they repeat each other.
- Questions are too narrow and only really require a few people to weigh in and the discussion fizzles.
- Questions are aligned to pinpoint content and you have to be an expert before you would feel comfortable chiming in (unless this is a book/topic study).
- Questions are worded to be answered only if you are a current classroom teacher.
- Questions do not allow for any positive discourse and the whole chat keeps saying “I Agree!” Even though celebrations are critical, I wonder if it does much over the long haul to push anyone’s thinking? I love a meaty question or two in each chat that can be passionately discussed.
Guiding Thought #2 – When to Tweet Questions
Most chats use the Q1/A1 format. For instance, I moderated the #atplc chat on January 21 and is from 9-10 Eastern (8-9 my time CDT). The following serves as a sample for how I approached scheduling the chat:
Share a getting excited about the chat at 30 minutes and again about 10 minutes prior to the chat start time. This can encourage people who follow you to check out the hashtag and get involved in the chat.
Introductions are the first five minutes
Q1 – Q5 are all 10 minutes in length
Q6 Commitment/Reflection is the last 5 minutes
I always like to include a couple of ending statements at the completion of the chat. For instance:
9:02 – Thank you for an amazing #atplc chat tonight! Be sure to follow your new connections!
9:04 – Question Image Credit goes to @Canva – my favorite go-to design shop! #atplc
Guiding Thought #3 – Use a Question Image
If your chat becomes active, the questions get lost easily. Having a consistent image for the questions allows your participants to scroll through to find the current question. I typically use Canva to create chat images.
Guiding Thought #4 – It’s About the Conversation
Successful twitter chats are all about rich conversation and the connections being made. This requires the moderator to spend more of their time chatting with the participants and not queuing up questions.
I schedule all tweets, updates, and my responses to the questions via TweetDeck. That way the chat runs itself and I can spend all of my time in the chat engaging with participants.
Guiding Thought #5 – Don’t Rely on your Memory
Google Docs is a great way to organize your chat for success. Docs also allows you to share your questions with other people to gain feedback. Do NOT underestimate the importance of running your questions through different filters. If you do this, you will always end up with better questions that will reach a broader audience.
Here is my planning document.
Guiding Thought #6 – Archive the Chat
We all know reflection is important for learning and when you are moderating a chat, you miss some of the amazing conversations that are happening. Take some time after the chat to archive using a simple online program such as Storify. Check out our #atplc chat archive.
Guiding Thought #7 – Building Capacity
As a moderator you have an opportunity to generate excitement for the upcoming chat by personally inviting people to participate in the chat. Find someone who has never used Twitter and help them set up for success. Give them the questions up front and help craft some possible tweets to use during the chat. You never know, you just might be inspiring a whole new group of educators to join the conversation!
This leads me to wonder…
What are your favorite Twitter chats and who will you invite to join you in the next chat?