5 reasons some #staff #meetings should be #tweetchats

Ok I’ll admit it. I am #hooked on #twitter and therefore am totally #hooked on #tweetchats. I even put #reminders into my #phone so I don’t forget to log in, although I do mix up CST, EST, AEST, and all those other #timezones but I’ve almost figured it out! For example, today I have two coming up.

PS: I just experienced my first #tlap chat and it almost blew my mind – it will have to be on my list of favs!!!

I have favourites  – as a teacher I know you shouldn’t have favourites but I do! I very much love #aussieED on Sunday nights and #whatisschool on Fridays. These two are fast-moving and have lots of #tweeters on-line shooting off tweets left, right and centre. At first I couldn’t keep up at all and I would lose track of which question we were on or who was talking to who and boy they tweet fast, how many tweets waiting?… but then I started getting the hang of it and the tweeters became real live people on line, welcoming, encouraging, supporting each other, sharing ideas and experiences, posting relevant links on the topic being discussed.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 11.18.37 AM

I’ve now developed a system to help with the fast paced action so I don’t miss any direct questions or comments related to my tweets during the chat. I like being able to respond during the chat rather than have to troll through my notifications after the chat session.

Now there are probably some terms above that mean absolutely nothing to one who is not on twitter so if you’re interested this website may help – but only after you’ve read the rest of the blog – I’m going to try to convince you that twitter is the way to go when it comes to boring old staff meetings.

Here are 5 reasons I think school admin should consider running tweet chats instead of always running full on face to face staff meetings:

1. Engages participants in fast paced thinking and learning.

Each staff member needs to create an account – it’s free and the school develops a hashtag for the chat meeting – remembering it is available to the public – I’d recommend using your school’s initial and the date of meeting perhaps, for example St Agatha’s Catholic College staff meeting is on 18th Nov – #SACC18nov – there’s more on this here and even better overview and advice here.

You can even invite special guests to log in with the hashtag and participate.

2. Develops skills in learning, sharing and connecting in max 140 characters

This can be quite challenging. The chat platform I personally use is tweetchat. I know there are others. I like this one  – it’s simple to use – your school admin just needs to send an email with the # for the meeting to all staff and when the time comes staff need just log in and authorise the app. Their tweets will automatically publish with the # so there is no need to type it into your responses. All your tweets will be in the one spot. You can also retweet, comment or favourite others’ tweets.




3. The conversation can continue after the fact without holding people up or cutting them off.

Usually for a one hour chat session there are 6 questions pre-prepared by whoever is hosting. The url is posted to twitter using the hashtag. Schools might like to do this using their email or link to their moodle page or website where questions are published prior to the meeting date in the same manner one would send out agendas. Each meeting should be themed so people can prepare and are ready to share ideas, experiences, relevant links etc…So I’m not proposing it be the usual staff meeting with unrelated items 1,2,3,..but one theme so it might be for example a session on classroom management or a what works for me session or gathering ideas for a new learning space to be built.


The beauty of chats is that the conversation may continue using the hashtag, giving people a chance to respond to others they didn’t get to during the meeting or add any ideas they might have that can be accessible to members. It is quite frankly a chance for staff to share ideas and learn from others.

4. Gives the quiet ones a fair go

Many people don’t speak at staff meetings while others just take over. A tweet chat gives everyone the same opportunity – colleagues can choose to just follow the conversation, perhaps begin by favouring ideas from others and then move to retweeting or even responding to the questions posed throughout the chat. I can hear you say but what about those who just don’t log on  – their loss I say – but I’m telling you that once it gets off the ground they will. It’s the same thing with face to face – what exactly is the follow up with those who don’t attend meetings? Same can apply here although the beauty of this is that they don’t have to be on campus to log in.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 11.18.29 AM

5. Minutes are published immediately using storify

Immediately after the meeting the host can prepare a storify which takes the place of minutes that usually have to be written and interpreted by the minute taker during the meeting, typed and then probably reviewed by a couple of members before they are  sent to all members. Storify allows this to happen immediately and everyone’s contribution is reproduced in their own tweets. Here’s an easy step by step explanation of how it’s done.


Are you convinced? This could be a great tool to use especially if you are a multi campus school or have a sister school you can hook up with for a particular meeting. Don’t dismiss the idea just yet. Why not get yourself a twitter account if you haven’t already got one and try joining some chats – you don’t have to comment at first you can sit in and see for yourself. Try before you buy sort of thing, although everything I spoke about above is free – free set up of accounts, and best of all free PD for your staff – imagine the possibilities….beats sitting in a room listening to endless talking about who knows what…have a go. I’d be interested to know how it went. If the school isn’t willing to try it then perhaps you can set one up with a few colleagues who are willing, run a chat session on a topic of interest or for a faculty or for those who teach 8 Red – whatever – just do it!

Thanks for reading 🙂

my twitter

Who’s your awesome teacher?

VeniceAsk any teacher why they became one and the most common response is that they once had an awesome teacher that made them want to become an educator themselves. Mine was Zacher a wonderful art teacher who made me want to learn about how art came about, about egyptians and greeks and romans and romanesque and gothic and renaissance and baroque and then some. I can still see clearly in my mind the wonderful notebooks she put together and the very special times we spent huddled around the art tables going through the history as she told stories of what had happened and invited us to contribute, to question and to seek our own responses. I still have my essays, hand written on foolscap lined paper. More importantly, I never forgot those learning sessions and to this day I teach, I learn and I question. I also make art – not in any common studio form such as painting and ceramics like I did in university but I think and do art works – differently. I have a collection of diaries, for examples, one each for my adventures overseas. In them I poured out my thoughts and feelings, I described my adventures, I drew and I tore paper and images and pasted them in. Then I drew over the top and even used water colour pencils something I had dismissed due to my experiences in that same university. You see I don’t particularly like rules, nor do I think that there are always ‘right’ answers. I approach everything through a visual, emotional perspective. Some might say that that, is why I get into trouble! And that’s true I get emotionally attached and then it hurts when things don’t work out. At the same time that’s okay too, because I like capturing those moments when you’re suddenly struck by a new thought and take the risk regardless.

As an educator, I value uppermost the importance of relationships. I suspect that the teachers mentioned by my colleagueArt educators have this gift to connect with their students in many ways. These are the teachers that become the ‘awesomes’. They seem to be always the ones that make the effort, that give a damn about how and who you really are. They’re not superficial, they really do want to know. They are also the same ones who do everything in their power and then some, to allow you to succeed. They take opportunities to connect with you. They seek your learning preference and find out what you like and then they ingeniously combine and blend, mingle, amalgamate, and intermix them strategically within the content to get you hooked – all of us – hooked into learning.

So, if you get one message from this post it’s that tomorrow when you get to school you make an extra effort to connect with that kid who always gets away. I recommend 5 simple things to get you started:

1. Make eye contact and smile 🙂

2. Greet them individually by name

3. Notice something they do well and let them know about it

4. Tell them what you like to do and why.

5. Ask them what they like to do and why.

I’d love to hear what you do to form your learning relationships with students.

Thanks for reading 🙂

“This is not how our teacher does it!”

Good Morning Folks,

The other day I had the privilege of delivering the  Keynote address at the TLN CRT Conference. I have to say I was rather nervous at first but once I put my hands on that lectern it was all over and off I went. I really love doing what I do and I love meeting and speaking with educators, sharing ideas and anecdotes about teaching and learning. During my Positive Classrooms workshops, at the same conference, there were many ideas thrown around that I hope participants might try the next time they are in the classroom. My favourite idea was the alphabet game where the first person chooses a word – say –  learning, the next person must then say a word beginning with the last letter of the previous word – growth – and so it goes until everyone has had a turn. We then tried it using only words relevant to the topic at hand, and while this was rather difficult it is an excellent way to really challenge the students and stay on topic. It might also be useful as a revision or prior / post knowledge game.

Many thanks to all those who participated on the day. Remember that each child is taught by a CRT for almost 2 years of their 13 years at school. We can make a BIG difference to their lives, make sure it’s a positive one!

Lastly…for those who would like to know how the “I failed preps” story ends please click here

tigerinjunglebookThanks for reading 🙂

What do we teach for?

Last week I got to hear Charles Fadel speak on 21st Century education. I really enjoyed listening to what he had to say. He has one of those accents that really soothes and you kind of ‘get hooked’ in before you know it. There were many things he said that resonated with me and that I really and truly believe are very important at this time. I was chuffed to hear him say things that I have been trying to say for ages, though not as eloquently as he did the other day. Along with Fadel we also heard comment from the Principal of Haileybury and the Head of Mathematics at John Monash. Between them and the audience there were many comments I thought worthy of publishing below:

  • Alvin-Toffer-on-21st-century-learningFuturists describe the world as VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous
  • to be successful in the 21st Century one will not need knowledge as much as they will need skills and character attributes
  • “Assessments are not a bad thing,” says Fadel, “bad assessments are stupid. How and what we measure makes a difference.”
  • The ATAR score is the brick wall of education
  • Humanities and Arts is what makes your life worth living!
  • Core subjects get you a job BUT the Arts get you through it!
  • STEM could become STEAM with the addition of the ARTS!
  • Let’s get rid of AusVELS and introduce a superVUCA curriculum!
  • It’s not enough to just depend on what kids know about technology, we must be their moral and ethical guides.
  • There is a need to break down the resistance to allow kids to be creative in maths. Sadly the VCE Maths study guides are full of content and allow very little scope for creativity.
  • Take the risk. Teach kids creativity and thinking and they will ‘get’ the knowledge regardless.
  • Teach kids to ask questions.
  • Teach kids to SYNTHESISE as they already know how to ‘get’ knowledge but how to bring it all together and make sense of it? That is what they need to learn.
  • We are not working fast enough to get kids ready for the 21st Century world!

21st CenturyAnd then there are these questions, some others asked, some are mine.  I’ll leave them with you to reflect upon- feel free to respond below…

  1.     What do we teach for?
  2.     Are we adequately preparing our kids for this world?
  3.     Why does there seem to be a disconnect between employers and educators?
  4.     WHAT should students learn?
  5.     What will we do with all this computer power?

Fadel ended with this: “We as teachers are sitting in the driver’s seat – make it happen! Seriously.”

Smart is cool!

Thanks for reading 🙂