Aaron Becker, Principal, Fairfield High School
#IAedchat (short for Iowa Education Chat, the # is what they call a hashtag) turned one year old on January 5th, 2014. At this time last year, I connected with Jimmy Casas, Bettendorf High School Principal and Matt Degner, Southeast Junior High Principal, in Iowa City to create #IAedchat, a weekly, hour long educational chat on Twitter every Sunday night at 8 p.m. CST. This idea originated when the three of us kept running into each other online when participating in education chats on Twitter. We were following hashtags or chats such as #satchat (Saturday chat), #edchatri (Education Chat Rhode Island), and #ptchat (Parent/Teacher Chat). We reached out to one another on Twitter and wondered if we could and should create a chat for Iowa educators. We enjoyed the chats, learning opportunities, and the collaboration that we wanted to share the experience with other Iowan educators since we weren’t seeing many on the chats at that time. We wanted to change this trend and create an opportunity for other educators in Iowa to discuss educational topics and experience the power of digitally connecting with educators in our state through #IAedchat. One year later, here we are.
How does #IAedchat work?
Jimmy, Matt, and I co-moderate #IAedchat by developing and asking 6 to 8 reflective questions about various educational topics in which people from our state of Iowa but also people from all over the United States and even other countries such as Canada and Australia join in on the conversation. The three of us collaborate during the week via Google Docs, Google Hangout, Skype, text messaging, or a phone call to decide on a topic of choice for the week. Once a topic is decided on, we start working on sample questions that will create discussion during the hour. We like to create questions that will be reflective and thought provoking for people that join the chat or for those that “lurk” (watch the chat but don’t post anything). Jimmy will ask the questions in Q1,Q2, Q3…format (Q=Question) and the participants will answer in a A1, A2, A3 format (A=Answer) so everyone can keep track of the chat. It is fast paced but once you get the hang of it, it is a great time! During the chat you are able to give your own response, respond to someone elses response, retweet a response, or favorite a response from someone. All you have to do is make sure you put #IAedchat somewhere in your tweet and everyone following that hashtag can see your response in the chat. It may sound a little confusing at first, but all you have to do is give it a chance. We are excited to welcome new people in each week. Don’t miss the opportunity!
How do I join an #IAedchat conversation?
- Create a Twitter account. https://twitter.com/ Create a Twitter handle, a personal profile, and make sure you have a picture of yourself (no eggs!). Once you have an account, begin to follow people that can help you create a professional learning network.
- Create a Tweetdeck account. https://about.twitter.com/products/tweetdeck Tweetdeck allows you to organize tweets from the people you follow and to create a column to hashtags like #IAedchat. Use the search button to find #IAedchat and click “Add Column” to be able to follow the conversation all in one place.
- Follow the #IAedchat conversation starting at 8 p.m. CST through 9 p.m. on Sunday.
- A Storify archive of the conversation will be tweeted out in order for people to read the whole conversation if they missed the chat or just want to revisit some tweets again. Here is a link to the year’s worth of #IAedchat http://storify.com/Aaron_Becker32
What Can #IAedchat Do for You?
We hope that by creating the #IAedchat conversation, people will have some of their thoughts confirmed about an educational topic, strategy, or more importantly gain new perspective on a subject that makes them think differently. The chat is about being a continual learner as an educator. We hope that the chats can challenge our Iowa educators and our friends from outside the state to become better each time they join just as they do for the three of us when we participate too. We hope everyone leaves the #IAedchat hour more excited to be with students than they were before they started the chat. #IAedchat looks to move people to action instead of just talking across the Twitter feed. I know I have personally and professionally benefitted from the ideas of others and how I can incorporate them into my own work and mindset. One of the greatest things about #IAedchat and Twitter is the new relationships you can and will develop with educators that would have never been possible without first connecting with them online. #IAedchat and Twitter has been a game changer in terms of my own professional learning and professional connections. We hope it can be for you too. If you “follow” the right people and create a PLN (professional learning network) that works for you and your passions, you will have a free resource of learning at your fingertips 24/7/365 days of the week that challenge you to be better everyday.
#IAedchat and specifically Twitter are opportunity for free professional learning and a way to reach out to others so that we don’t feel like we have to do everything on our own or by ourselves. In today’s world, it is about making connections and learning how to collaborate to create better classrooms and schools for your students.
It has been an awesome year of learning through #IAedchat. We hope to see you on #IAedchat soon on a Sunday night and you are able continue the conversation with your friends and colleagues the next day. Don’t hesitate to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, call me at 641-472-2059 or tweet or direct message me on Twitter @Aaron_Becker32.