Author Bio: Todd Bloch (@blocht574), 7th Grade science teacher at Warren Woods Middle School in Warren, MI where he has been teaching for 12 years. He has a Master’s in Middle Level Education Todd’s Blog can be found at www.sweattoinspire.com
This past August, after encouragement from friends, I started a twitter chat for middle school teachers found at the hashtag #mschat. Many of my colleagues asked why? They felt twitter was a place for athletes, actors and companies to promote themselves. While these behaviors do exist on twitter, there is so much more going on the social network.
Due to my activity on twitter I have connected with 100’s of other educators. I have engaged top education authors such as: Alfie Kohn, Chris Lehman and Seth Godin in direct conversations. I have discussed technology uses directly with the manufacturers like: TenMarks and TechSmith. Recently, I even had a question answered by Arne Duncan. These interactions have been priceless, and they have helped me grow and reflect as an educator, but enough about me.
Why should you get involved in twitter chats in general or #mschat in specific?
You need to get off the island that is teaching unconnected. You need to hook up with other teachers, who are experiencing the same issues you are to collaborate for a solution. You need to join the massive collective knowledge bank that exists for teachers in twitter chats.
Some of my friends have been hesitant of get on twitter, because they fear the unknown or the technology. What I have found, interacting with teachers, that everyone models the citizenship we desire in our classrooms. When you don’t understand something, ask questions, someone will respond to aide you (usually more than one someone in my experience).
My Middle School chat offers middle school teachers a chance to have a collaborative discussion about a different topic each week. Our topics change from week to week, ranging from Common Core State Standards to Character Education. During the chat participants exchanges ideas and resources. The chat group ranges in size each week from 10 to 50+ participants. Discussion can be general talking about instructional style or process to specific. Recently members of the chat group help each other create lessons.
I hope you drop by #mschat soon. You can find us on twitter Every Thursday Night at 8 pm ET. I am @blocht574 on Twitter.