7 Ways to Grow from Twitter Educational Chats

Last night I had about 5 minutes to hop on Twitter and catch the tail end of the #MichEd chat.  During those few minutes I had the following exchange with @techsavvyed (Ben Rimes) and @bushjms (Jeff Bush):

In thinking of that conversation as I was tucking in Thing #3 at our house (at the back-scratching phase with lots of time to just think...) and some other chatter at the end of the chat time, it occurred to me that it should be re-iterated that there are many ways to grow from the Twitter educational chats that occur.  So, here's my list in no particular order.

1. Read the archives when they are convenient to you
Often we have family and work events that take place during the chat times.  You don't have to totally miss out just because you couldn't be there "live."  You can do a Twitter search for the chat if you miss it by a little (this is what I do post-tucking my kids in many evening).  Another option is finding out if the educational chat you are interested in has an archive - many do, so you can even read through older chats that are of interest to you.

2. Simply read the chats when live
No one says you have to participate in the chats, and it may be intimidating at first blush.  Sometimes it is more valuable to simple sit back and read the interaction, giving you time to reflect, ponder and process.  This can be especially true in some of the deeper topics or topics where you feel you don't have much expertise. Many people follow this up with reflective blog posts to help them cement their new ideas or stances.

3. Watch only one or two chat participants
Many sidebar conversations take place during educational chats, along with the main stream.  Watching for one or two participants and following their Twitter conversations can be more helpful (and less schizophrenic) than trying to follow the entire conversation.  It's kind of like focussing on the conversations that are happening at your table instead of trying to listen to the entire room during a large banquet.

4. React to an chat participant's statement when you are ready
I sometimes have to process a provocative statement for awhile before I can articulate my view or know what questions I want to ask.  You can reply to a participant's comment days - and even weeks - after the actual chat took place.  Just make sure to make it a reply to their original statement so they have a frame of reference.

5. Find & follow one new person from the educational chat that pushed you to grow
From @kithard (Kit Hard) - "Another way to participate in #miched is to 'follow' someone...who said something you found insightful or helpful.  Build your PLN." You can almost think of them as a speed-dating way of finding people you want to populate your Twitter stream with material you will find useful.

6. When provoked, ask questions
The best educational chats have a lot of participation, and can even get contentious at times.  Don't take comments or replies to your comments personally.  In fact, I have found that if you can ask questions there are many times that a potentially inflammatory comment is missing details.  Actually, some of my biggest take-aways from chats have been a side-bar conversation with another participant when we had differing viewpoints.

7. Find the educational chats that interest you - and find some that will help you grow
Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1) has some great resources - including this spreadsheet of many of the weekly Twitter educational chats organized by day of the week and including their times.  You don't have to stick with one chat.  In fact, you can sometimes just pop into another chat to see if there is a topic or person that can push you in new directions!  I've done that many times, and find it beneficial to keep pushing me beyond my comfort zone.

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