My district just finished its second annual district-wide Twitter challenge. The month of the Twitter challenge has come to be one of my favorite parts of the year because I get to peak in classrooms all across the district that I'm unable to visit and I'm able to make connections with more of my 850 teachers to develop classroom partnerships and strengthen relationships. I think that every district should try a Twitter challenge. But before you get started, here are a few lessons I have learned in the past two years about facilitating a district-wide Twitter challenge.
1. Think carefully about the length of your challenge
Before starting your district Twitter challenge, it's important to think about the length of the challenge. While there are already probably educators in your district who participate in Twitter chats and are sharing on social media regularly, it's important to think about how long your challenge should be. Originally, we planned to have a month-long Twitter challenge; however, after a lot of thought and discussion we decided on 3 weeks to avoid the potential burnout of asking educators to respond to a tweet every day for a month. We had an average of 250 tweets per week, which I was happy with, but I did notice participation start to drop off by the end of the challenge.
2. Automate your tweets.
During our Twitter challenge we had to ensure that the prompt for each day's challenge arrived at the same time each day. To make sure of this, my Director of Professional Development used Hootsuite to make sure that each day's prompt was tweeted out in the morning at 7:00am. While we released a schedule of all tweets prior to the challenge, the visual prompt each day was really helpful for many teachers. I actually utilized the same method to make sure that I tweeted during each day of the challenge!
3. Have a variety of prompts.
It's important to think about your teachers and where they are in their professional journey when writing the daily prompts for your Twitter challenge. Make sure that you have a good mix of prompts dealing with relationship building, instructional strategies, sharing best practices, and reflections on the process - retweet a colleague's tweet, #followfriday tweets, etc.
4. Embed learning into the challenge.
We knew that many educators would be tweeting for the first time during our Twitter challenge, so we made sure to front-load our challenge with resources on using Twitter and we created plenty of graphics to explain our hashtags and Twitter skills like retweeting.
5. Take time to appreciate the collaboration.
My district is very fortunate in that we give teachers and content areas lots of opportunities to meet and collaborate, but no matter how much time is allocated for collaboration, there's never enough time. The #C6Learns Twitter Challenge gave teachers across the district a 3 week long platform to connect, share ideas, and springboard collaboration. Our Twitter challenge even helped me establish new classroom partnerships with teachers wanting to try new technology with their students.
Leading a Twitter challenge for my district has been an amazing experience for me the past two years. The #C6Learns Twitter Challenge has provided teachers around the district a forum to share best practices and successes, along with introducing dozens of educators to the collaborative power of Twitter for personal, professional growth. While you are planning your own district's Twitter challenge, feel free to take a look at the a review of week 1, week 2, and week 3 of this year's #C6Learns Twitter Challenge.
Of course I couldn't have gotten a district Twitter challenge off the ground without the help of my PLN. A big shout out to Justin Tarte in Union, MO; Tina Lauer in St. Charles, MO; and Kara Welty in Independence, MO, along with the rest of the team here at Fox for advice, examples, and help getting the challenge off the ground!
Have you tried a Twitter challenge with your district? Are you wanting to get started with a challenge but don't know where to begin? Sound off in the comments to share best practices, ideas, and questions!