My contention is that most Twitter chats are about things that most competent teachers should already know.
Is it really necessary to have chat topics on homework, classroom management, administrators preventing innovation, engaging parents, etc. etc? One chat on a Saturday morning even discussed …substitutes. UPDATE: Sunday morning chat on field trips. #omg
Most Twitter chats are safe, not especially interesting or compelling, and discuss improving what occurs in schools as is, with the intent of making school “as is but only better.” Many are also repetitive with similar low level questions that result in a never ending educational “stream of consciousness” focused on getting better at 1998.
Isn’t time to use the power of connectivity to go in directions not taken before?
Admittedly, I do have favorite chat topics. My favorite guilty pleasure is to lurk in a chat about “PD.” I just can’t resist. For me, it’s almost like eating bacon. Almost. But that is rapidly being challenged by Twitter chats focusing on being a “connected educator” or those on “genius hour.”
Twitter chats are mostly about doing what has always been done better. Why not use that connectivity to extend thinking, talk about something really bold, something that is provocative, challenging, and disruptive? Maybe even innovative.
Why not discuss things no one really has a clue about? Nada. Nothing. So it could be #wedonthaveaclueaboutthischat or #idonthavethisfiguredoutyetandcouldusesomehelpchat That’s probably too long, not enough characters for a response, but you get the idea. #idonthavethisfiguredoutyetandcouldusesomehelpchat wouldn’t be about how to do a scavenger hunt with augmented reality tools, it would be about how to end hunger in schools. Big. Bold. Necessary. Impactful. Meaningful. And certainly worth the time.
Why not use the chats to challenge rather than revisit and recap past practice, with the hope of marginally improving those practices? Why not use the chats to look forward and crowdsource new ideas and directions, rather than look backwards and talk about things that should have already been behind most. It could be: #ichallengeyoutomakemyideabetterchat
Why not make them bold enough to make them interesting? #risktakingchat #thismightbeadumbideabutImjustpassionateenoughaboutittotakeastandandplantaflagchat
And, seriously, please do not participate in #statingtheobviouschat. (“If we come to school prepared, our students will learn better.”). Or, #heythisisnewandletsseehowfastwecanschoolizetheideachat
The most important Twitter chat ever would be: #mystudentslearnbetterbecauseofmyparticipationinatwitterchatandhereishowIknowchat
So, I’m guessing that most educators think twitter chats are worthwhile. And if you are new to Twitter, they’re probably “amazing.” And I get that Twitter chats can break down containers and can reduce some isolation. They can connect educators together. That’s good. Perhaps they may even improve the day to day, nuts and bolts skills of a teacher. Maybe that’s all that they are intended to be, and will ever be, and maybe that’s enough for you.
But like everything in education, they go only so far, and in my experience, operate within the typical constraints of traditional school-based educational thinking. In my opinion, they’re simply not brave enough, not bold enough, and the topics and conversations I’ve seen do not really challenge teachers and education to move forward beyond the current mindset of “school.”
image courtesy of Creative Tools