I should have written this post three years ago and titled it “So I started moderating a twitter chat” but that didn’t happen. In case you’ve missed it I should tell you that #worldgeochat is becoming a ‘thing’ on twitter. We just ended our third season of chats and our participation has grown each and every year. There are veterans who swing by almost every week and there are new teachers and parents who drop in to lurk or chime in with new perspectives all the time. It has become a valuable resource for geography educators (actually, educators of all disciplines find it useful) to reach out and connect and find other kindred spirits who share our love of maps, latitude, longitude and world cultures (but also maps…)
I have found that I look forward to Tuesday night’s with giddiness that I haven’t felt as an educator in a long while. When I left the classroom three years ago because my family moved to Maine, I’ve struggled with my identity as a teacher. I will always be an educator, it’s the very core of my being and yet I had a hard time staying connected and up to date with the latest pedagogy and technology that was being used.
This is where #worldgeochat saved my soul. Being part of a supportive community like this has helped me stay current on recent education trends (Adobe Spark!, Thank you, @SamMandeville ) and has helped my follow along with the subject of geography that I love so dearly. So I’d like to write The Top 9 List:
Why #worldgeochat is the best chat out on the Twitters!
- There are jokes: #worldgeochat doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are a ton of inside jokes (and not-so-inside-jokes) that participants share freely. Who is @geokylo ? I think it’s Penny… Some people think it’s me. But it’s probably @cheffernan75 . Are you ready if I mention GoogleEarth during a chat? There is always something that makes me laugh out lod during each and every #worldgeochat.
- It’s a community: The moderators make a point to connect with all the participants and create a space where everyone is relaxed and ready to share. The moderators come from all over the US and have never actually met in real life but I can say with certainty that we are all friends. It’s really interesting how #worldgeochat has created bonds of friendship like this, something that was not possible 20 years ago. I feel that this group of geography educators really is “my tribe”.
- It’s SUPER Supportive: We have rules.When a #worldgeochat’er has a question or is at a loss with how to accomplish an objective for their class, we come together and lend a hand. From resources, weblinks, looking over a Google Doc and editing. I’ve even run free Google Earth tutorials for teachers who were interested in learning more about how to incorporate it in their instruction. I consult with districts and get paid to do that but with the #worldgeochat crew, it’s just me helping out a few teacher friends.
- It challenges your perspectives: I have had my perspective changed many times by participants in #worldgeochat. From whether or not I should assign homework, to the validity of map memorization, to what kind of testing is appropriate for my students. The list goes on and on. This group of educators will help you reflect on your own craft weekly and make you a better teacher because of it. I know that I see things much differently now because of what I have learned with this group.
- It Runs smoothly: When we started it was just @cheffernan75,@ecasey77 , and myself (@GeoSpiegs). We had no idea what we were doing and made tons of mistakes. Since @jmgarner2003 and @SamMandeville joined the moderator crew I can say with certainty that we are better for it. They bring organization, leadership, and energy to the team that has made us better. #worldgeochat is more organized than ever and we have a pretty good system of support between each other that helps keep the chat moving on Tuesday nights. We also have a calendar where we map out (see what I did there?) our chats ahead of time to make sure we are not being redundant and can address topics that chat participants are interested in!
- It’s Fun! Who would have thought that this hour on Tuesday night would becone so much fun. We laugh, we cry, we drink scotch (well… I do.). We often get feedback and tweets that the chat is always lively and fun to participate in. We attribute it that the fact that we, the moderators, go to great lengths to make sure that we acknowledge everyone as they join in and also reach out during the chat to make sure that good points are shared with the wider audience (sometimes a really good point gets lost in the feed because it’s just moving too darn fast).
- Time Flies: It starts at 9pm on Tuesday nights but before you know it it’s already ten minutes past 10pm and you are still tweeting out responses to a great link or point that someone just said. It’s crazy how fast time goes. Which brings me to my next point…. Segue please.
- Have you seen the #resources!?! Holy smokes! It’s like drinking from a fire hose some nights. There are so many experts in #worldgeochat who share freely their knowledge that sometimes it’s just hard to keep up with it all. Thankfully we archive each chat so anyone who wasn’t able to be in chat has an opportunity to browse the awesomesauce of resources.
- It is the cutting edge of good pedagogy: Period. Seriously. These teachers get ‘it’. They have the teacher ‘it’ gene. As a direct result of the resources an perspectives that are shared in #worldgeochat you quickly realize that the educators here are the ones that are pushing the boundaries of good pedagogy. They are creating lessons, activities, assessments, and discussions with students that is where education needs to go in the future…. actually it is where education IS going and the future is now! These are the people who are making our educational system better each and every day.
The ideas that are shared and picked up in #worldgeochat can be used the very next day in your classroom and will help students learn. That’s the goal, right?