Saturday, July 25, 2015

It's the people that make the party

I have been co-moderating the #nt2t chat for over two years now (and having a tweetful time at it, I might add), but the thought of writing this occurred to me during the last #whatisschool chat, in which I guest moderated alongside the inspirational Craig Kemp and Laura Hill. It was thrilling to get so much positive reactions to the topic and to the questions I had proposed. The post is not an ego trip, but rather a look at what make Twitter chats in general what they are to the point that people take an hour of their time every week to participate and socialize virtually.

I am going to use the party metaphor to hopefully make my point.  Party planners usually have to consider every minute detail to ensure the success of the event: the food and drink, the music, the venue, the theme, the program, and of course the guests. Get-togethers tend to flop if one of these items is neglected; yet without good, fun-loving, easy-going guests, these events often meet their doom. That’s why promoters and party organizers handpick their guests in the hope that they find the right mix of conversationalists, eager listeners, team leaders, and humor providers (maybe I just invented a new profession, here).

Looking at a Twitter chat, moderators thankfully don’t get to pick the guests: it’s that openness that lures people interested in the same topic in. The venue is available 24/7/365. You can hear the music by the sound of the group hashtag.  The food, drink and program come in the form of the welcoming, the questions and the chat format. Once again, the success of the chat is dependent on and measured by the people participating. 

The more eager and hungrier they are to chat, the more enriching and engaging the discussion. This became clear to me in some of the tweets that we received thanking us for the chat. In thanking us, these people showed their enthusiasm which made ALL the difference in the chat

Turning to the classroom, inevitably, I ask myself how much does all the preparation and setup we make really play towards the success of the class. Like in the Twitter chats, we can’t invite our guests (the students), but it’s our job to make them comfortable, to make them feel safe and at ease enough to express themselves, to engage in the proposed program (subject of the lesson). Without them, nothing else matters, or so the song says.   

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