Ever joined in a Twitter conversation? You know the ones; they normally start with hashtag # and happen at the same time every week – ones like #ukedchat or #edchat or #sltchat. There are lots of them about for teachers, all over the world. In fact, you could probably take part in one every hour of every day – there’s so many. General teaching ones, pedagogy, specialist subject , secondary, primary, special education, specific countries, specific states, specific continents, specialist roles in education and of course all the #unconferences and #teachmeets and #sltcamps – it’s all happening out there on Twitter, everybody’s joining in the conversation.
Or are they? Of course there are lots of teachers who are not on Twitter who are not joining in, but what about those who are – are you really joining in a conversation, or are you just talking out loud and giving your opinion?
What does it actually take to be part of a conversation? Well, the first thing you have to do it listen, and I know you will all say you read others posts before you respond, so the questions then are – how do you respond and what’s your reason for responding? Do you respond to find out more about that post, that person, their circumstances? Or do you respond to tell them your opinion, your judgments, your experiences and your circumstances? How many times do you post on Twitter with a question and how many times do you post with a statement? Which type of person would you rather have a conversation with – someone who asks questions and wants to find out more, or someone who tells you things, constantly?
You see, Twitter is a giant conversation, a giant networking event, and if you’ve ever been to a face to face networking event, you really don’t want to spend time with the person who talks about themselves, and what they do all the time, do you? It’s so much nicer to speak to someone who shows a genuine interest in you and what you do. You know what it’s like when you go to a training event and you don’t know anyone; you try to suss out who to sit beside because you don’t want to get stuck for a full day out of school with the bore who does nothing but tell you things, and preach their stance on events, and talk about themselves. It’s just not that much fun being in a conversation with someone who doesn’t listen and only wants to hear their own voice, or in the case of Twitter, to see their own posts.
We’re all guilty of this at times – I’m no saint either, I’ve tried to plug my books on occasions and guess what – there’s no response. Nobody talks to you when all you want to do is shout about how wonderful you are. So come on folks, let’s stop Tweeting and start having more real learning conversations on Twitter. Let’s find out more about each other – let’s give before we try to gain. Let’s make each other feel good to help ourselves to feel good.
How can we do it? Look at your Twitter feed, or a conversation like #ukedchat or #sltchat – how many people are asking questions and how many are just shouting out loud? Can you ask more questions, can you be more interested in what others have to say, can you preach less and learn more. Can you think about your reasons for joining in the conversation? What can you do to make the conversation even better? Can you notice more? Can you be more curious?
You cannot not communicate and everything you say and do, especially in the public domain, communicates some sort of information about you. What do your Tweets say about you? What would you want your Tweets to say about you – teacher, preacher or learner?