TL;DR – The #Edchat format is the perfect thing for quick, light-weight, a la carte PD that can be powerful and useful at almost any level of engagement; even periodic participation can reap teachers benefits.

My first years in education coincided with the genesis of The #Edchat on Twitter, which I joined in 2008. At first, my handle was @theslithytove, which was one of the few quasi-obscure literary shibboleths that hadn’t been claimed by other tweeting English majors. I didn’t really even know what to tweet out at first or why I was even on the service, until I discovered uesday the Tuesday evening #EdChat via @TomWhitby and @web20classroom. That’s when I realized that Twitter could actually serve a pedagogical, professional purpose as a space for conversation and sharing about our practice as teachers and principals. The idea is something I’ve recently gotten back into after a fairly lengthy Twitter hiatus.

I tried to find my first foray into the #Edchat and this peremptory plug was the first instance I could find in the ol’ Twitter vault. So, this has been going on for a while.

The neat thing about the format was that it felt like a sort of intermediate space between my graduate classes, my student teaching, and my actual school life as a teacher where I could ask questions, seek diverse opinions, and explore a vast number of responses to a central series of questions.

After taking a step back from regular tweeting and blogging about education for a few years (my family grew, I finished most of another graduate degree), I finally felt the pull back to a space I’d once regularly inhabited and found value. Now, I’m fortunate that many of my @LSR7 colleagues are tweeting about their teaching. Our district professional development director, Dr. Kevin Daniel, started #R7EDCHAT this year and I decided I just couldn’t miss out.

While I’m not taking the time to engage with the larger #edchat community on Tuesday nights, I have found great value in the smaller, more concentric community my district put in place. Even when I’ve been participating via phone while parked at Valvoline getting my oil changed or for five minutes while feeding my kids dinner, I’ve been glad I jumped in.

The community in an #edchat provides three important things to me: a safe space for questions, affirmation of practice, and connection to more resources. Each time I contribute to the conversation, I find one or more of those three bells ringing, sometimes in harmony.

There are chats for everything out there, and I highly recommend that teachers find one that suits them. Try it for ten minutes, chime in on one of the questions (that’s pretty low stakes if you ask me) and wait to see who and what you connect with.

The #R7EDCHAT is on hiatus since the school year has closed, but you can search through all the old questions, topics, and responses by searching it on Twitter. Definitely worth your while!

A moderator’s question to the group in the #r7edchat.