How to be a rockstar Twitter chat moderator

Moderating Twitter chats

Twitter chats are starting to catch fire in education.

Ever participate in #edchat, the founding educational Twitter chat? It’s fast-paced. Packed. Next-to-impossible to keep up with.

There are chats for almost every subject area, grade and persuasion in the education world. (A pretty exhaustive list of educational Twitter chats was produced by Thomas Murray and Chad Evans.)

What does almost every educational Twitter chat have in common? A moderator.

Usually, the moderator is a volunteer. In some chats, the moderator is a constant. In others, it varies week to week.

Visit enough Twitter chats and you’re likely to be asked (volunteered?) to moderate, or you’ll do the volunteering. Often, especially in smaller state/niche chats, you don’t have to be an expert. Just willing to serve, to help out.

(Not doing Twitter yet? Check out this Tech Tuesday screencast about Twitter for teachers.)

After participating in numerous Twitter chats, I’ve identified moderators I really like.

I’ve also identified moderator characteristics I really like.

My first turn to moderate is tonight. If you’re free at 8 p.m. EST (Thursday, May 2, 2013), follow the #INeLearn hashtag. We’ll be talking about teaching without textbooks (or with less reliance on textbooks), a passion of mine.

If you’re ever tapped to moderate a Twitter chat, here are some ideas to consider. They’re characteristics of good moderators that I want to emulate.

Good moderators …

1. have solid questions prepared. They do their homework, thinking of ideas and knowing the pulse of the participants.

2. keep the conversation flowing. When there’s a lull, good moderators jump in and stir up discussion. Sam Patterson (@sampatue) is the consummate dinner party host at #PATUE. He injects humor, makes participants smile and asks great follow-up questions. (Read more about Sam’s paperless classroom.)

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3. are prepared with resources to share. The best have a handful of links to videos, blogs, articles and other sites within reach that can be added to the chat at a moment’s notice.

4. connect participants with others that can help. Joy Kirr (@JoyKirr), the #geniushour moderator, knows the teachers in her chat. If someone is a good match to another teacher, she passes their Twitter handle along and helps them get together. Great trait.

5. reach out to everyone. In a recent #edteach chat, Justin Bechthold (@jbechthold) and Trish Haugrud (@TrishHaugrud) were very welcoming. Followed up comments with reactions. Interaction makes a chat feel like family.

6. highlight quality comments with retweets. Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1) does this very well. He’s on the #edchat team and has moderated countless chats. He sees the best and shows it to the group in case someone missed it.

What are some other traits you like to see in a Twitter chat moderator? What do you like to see in a Twitter chat? Please leave a comment and let us know!

(For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links, “like” Ditch That Textbook on Facebook and follow @jmattmiller on Twitter!)