#TOSAchat all began as an idea from Ben sometime in late June/early July this past summer. Ben reached out to Karly, Kelly, and me about starting this chat. We definitely jumped on board and things quickly materialized. We messaged each other within Twitter, starting out as tweets and then into a thread of a group direct messaging. Within the first few days we had discussed what we needed to get started and we had a lot set up already. We started a gmail account and registered the Twitter profile @tosachat. With the Google account, we create sheets of possible questions, a form for participants to fill out with suggestions for topics (Karly's foresight in making the chat interactive beyond the tweets), and had a place for the amazing graphics for @tosachat's profile and advertisement banners (from Kelly's creative mind). It was an incredible example of "teamwork that makes the dream work," as Ben often says.
One thing I really appreciated was that we picked what seemed like a late start date for the chat at that time but it turned out to be perfect for several reasons.
- The first was it allowed the four of us to prepare the right questions for our inaugural chat that would be helpful to TOSAs. As anyone who's ever moderate a chat before knows, it takes a lot of thought when preparing questions for a chat.
- A second reason the timing helped was it gave us time to work out details as we planned. We were able to create slides/pictures for each of the questions. We had time to plan out the timing of each question. We used TweetDeck to schedule the questions (we LOVE TweetDeck). We created a Remind class for participants to sign up for reminder texts (amazing work, Kelly).
- The "late" start time was also purposeful because it was at the time schools are going back in session. Educators definitely take breaks from social media over the summer, as they should, and having a start date close to the school year allowed for more teachers to participate as they're back on social media.
- The biggest reason was definitely the one with the greatest impact, in my opinion. The late start time gave the four of us plenty of time to get the word out. Advertisement is key to starting any campaign! We started by sharing the advertisement banners with our colleagues and on other chats and it definitely caught like wildfire! Within days we had other teachers advertising for the chat too. Teachers were retweeting the banners, mentioning their colleagues on tweets, and drumming up a lot of interest for the chat. Many said they were glad a chat was starting up specific for TOSAs.
Teamwork definitely makes the dream work.
Please join us for #TOSAchat on Monday at 8:00 PST for incredible discourse with a fantastic community of educators. Here's the Storify for our inaugural chat in case you missed it.