A Powerful Practice

by Martin R. Geoghegan, Principal – J.T. Nichols Middle School, Middleborough

Power of TwitterPower.  The power is in our hands.  That’s right; it is.

I know, if you know me, you have a pretty good idea about what this post is going to center on.  It is on Twitter.

Most of you know the story.  I and many others got onto Twitter from Bill Burkhead’s encouragement, as Brian McCann so classically puts it in our “Alchemy” presentation for many of us were there in the standing room only setting, lining the walls, and sitting on the floor in Race Point at the Sea Crest that 2011 Summer Institute.  It was an incredible presentation on such a powerful tool for learning, leading, and connecting.

Bill explained to us that Twitter harnesses the power we can use whenever we want.  It’s there.  He emphasized that you don’t have to watch it.  You don’t have to worry about missing something because you might not be there at a certain time.  It will be there for you when you log onto it.

GW Twitter

Well, needless to say, I loved it.  I jumped right in with both feet.  It was amazing to see the connections Bill and others around our state like Pat Larkin were making.  It was phenomenal.  One could not help but be enamored by the power Twitter held.

Art Dulong years ago started to refer to me as the “Twitter Man.”  There would be the obligatory “Tweet that out, Marty” during every meeting or meet-up in Franklin.  I presented multiple times at the Summer Institute and in Franklin an introductory exposition of Twitter’s power.  I tried to carry forth what Bill did for me and others.  I wanted to spread that word.

I saw its power in so many ways.  Whenever we go to committee meetings, regional meetings, conferences, or even just see each other out somewhere it gives me a tremendous lift.  I can’t help but love these sometimes few minutes I might have with the likes of Brian McCann, John Clements, Tara Bennett, or George Ferro.  But those few minutes are difficult sometimes to come by in the busy life of an administrator.

Super Tweet

For when you get a chance to tap into any one or our ideas, thoughts, or brains, you are amazed.  There are some sensational things going on in our schools.  It is then that you realize why Massachusetts always scores so well on national and international tests:  it’s the state’s leadership.  It is the principals, assistant principals, and directors.  We are doing some remarkable things.

So I wanted to try to capture this.  I saw Twitter as a way to do so when I Followed such incredible people, but I wanted more.  Then a few years ago, I started #MSSAAchat (now #MSAAchat) because after engaging in multiple Twitter chats I saw the enormous power it had.  This took Twitter 1.0 to 2.0+; it was truly sensational learning.  In my mind, I saw #MSSAAchat  as an extension of Summer Institute conversations by means of virtually meeting up with all those Rock Star leaders we have in our commonwealth.

Gore#MSSAAchat started to break down those barriers of time and space.  It didn’t matter if you were across the state, out west, down by Worcester, or up in the northwest corner; we could meet on Twitter in this chat.  You didn’t have to just go to a conference, or Franklin, or the Summer Institute to tap into these incredible educational minds.  This was that power Al Gore first discussed when he created the World Wide Web.  It was there for us to utilize.

#MSSAAchat got the likes of Bob Silveira, Henry Turner, Kathleen Duff, Kelley St Coeur, Jeff Szymaniak, Ross Thibault, and other Case High alum to get together and support one another and each other’s schools.  It was also where I was able to branch out with other leaders as well.  It didn’t matter what level you were an administrator.  The elementary leadership in the state is awesome as well.  Do you know where I first met most of them?  Through Twitter.  Julie Vincentsen, Liz Garden, and Chris Dodge I initially got acquainted with on Twitter.

The conversations in #MSSAAchat (and now in #MSAAchat) were spectacular, but again, I wanted more.  So I used Twitter to connect with authors of educational books.  All I did was tweet, direct message, or email these authors to see if they would be interested in talking for an hour with Massachusetts leaders.  And I have yet to have one say, No.

The books and authors we have had co-host #MSAAchat are a who’s who in education:

Mark Barnes and Jennifer Gonzalez Hacking Education

Hacking Education

Jessica Lahey The Gift of Failure

Gift of Failure

Starr Sackstein Hacking Assessment

Hacking Assessment

Tony Frontier and Jim Rickabaugh 5 Levers to Improve Learning

5 Levers

James Sturdevant 50 Ways to Hack Engagement

Hacking Engagement

Sharon LaPage Plante (and Billy Krakower) Using Technology to Engage Students with Disabilities

Technology LD

Warren Berger A More Beautiful Question


Joe Sanfelippo and Tony Sinanis Hacking Leadership

Hacking Leadership

Those are not all of them.  Those are just a few.  Check out the Storify of all our #MSAAchats to see some incredible educational discussions.  It is a treasure trove of awesome authors, ideas, and discussions between these phenomenal writers of books and incredible educators, who are authors of their own amazing ideas in less than 140 characters.  And the lineup of sensational educators continues every second Tuesday of each month with this coming November 14, we have an unimaginable night of learning.

EmpowerWe have John Spencer and A.J. Juliani at 8 PM to discuss their book Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning.  It is going to be epic.






And not to be done, but in December, I have lined up Trevor Muir, author of The Epic Classroom: How to Boost Engagement, Make Learning Memorable, and Transform Lives and in January, Chris Dodge was able to get Jennifer Casa-Todd, author of Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership, and in February, Beth Houf, author of Lead Like a PIRATE: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff will be co-hosting #MSAAchat.

Epic ClassroomSocial LediaLLAP

We are stronger together, and #MSAAchat gives us a platform to show our power and passion we have for making our schools better.

I can’t help but thank Mr. Bill Burkhead for leading me into the awesomeness that is Twitter.

See you on Twitter, my friends.

MartyMartin R. Geoghegan is the Principal of the John T. Nichols, Jr. Middle School in Middleborough, Massachusetts.  Since Marty started at the Nichols, it has gone from little technology to a 1-to-1 Chromebook environment, where he’s always searching for ways for greater student success.  He is currently the Middle Level Chair on the MSSAA Board and the President of the Massachusetts ASCD Board of Directors.  He founded and moderates the #MSAAchat on the second Tuesday of each month for all educators.  Last year, the Nichols Middle School was chosen as one of 35 Model Schools from across the country to present at their national conference in Nashville.  Marty was a MassCUE Pathfinder Award winner for 2016, and a Featured Speaker at MassCUE 2017.  He tries to make as much time as possible for his wife and two high school sons in Scituate, when he’s not Tweeting at @MGeoghegan22.

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