A lot of buzz has been generated lately over technology and education. Will digital textbooks change learning? Should students find mentors via Twitter? Should students and teachers connect via social media? Thus far, most of the discussion has focused on the effect that technology has on students. But growing numbers of teachers are now hitting up the latest technology and social media sites like Twitter to share stories, pick up classroom tips, and gain much-needed camaraderie.
In 2009, three teachers started a weekly teacher chat on Tuesday nights on Twitter that they hoped would interest teachers from around the world. The first few teacher chats, using hashtag #edchat, saw about 100 people participating. Today, there are more than 2,000 tweeters who sign in on Tuesday nights to discuss general education topics with fellow teachers. They have even launched a second chat on Tuesday afternoons to accommodate teachers chiming in from other time zones.
The group has gotten bigger, but the discussions stay focused on a topic that chatters vote on each week in an online poll. Teacher chats have covered a wide variety of topics — everything from using blogs in the classroom to enhance students' writing skills to improving working relationships with principals.
A number of side chats have grown from the original group. Social Studies teachers can join #sschat on Monday nights, while music teachers can be found on the same nights using #mused. Most chat groups have a Web page with details on chat days and times. Here's a few more to check out:
Math teachers: #mathchat
English teachers: #engchat
Psychology teachers: #psychat
Special education teachers: #spedchat
Gifted and talented teachers: #gtchat