About 10 years ago now, after some prompting from my other half, I decided to get myself a Twitter account. He’d been waxing lyrical about how interesting the conversations were and how it was supporting his reflection as a classroom teacher and leader and how it opened up his eyes to others’ practice and experiences around education in a way that no other networking or work-based discussions could. Nervous about this seemingly infinite world of possibilities, I set up an account and dipped in and out for a while, sitting on the side lines and rarely daring to tweet anything which could open me up to too much discussion.
However, it was fascinating. Both from the perspective of the teacher but also from the perspective of the people watcher, who could learn a lot about social interactions through just a few characters as it was then. Gradually I became drawn in and grew in confidence to share my thoughts about my practice as well as ask people about theirs.
I had felt increasingly despondent at work, considering leaving teaching and even taking steps towards establishing a new career, and while I don’t credit Twitter for my decision to remain, it did go a long way in helping me to articulate my thoughts and rediscover a passion for the profession, especially seeing how passionate others still were about the role, when many in my immediate sphere were feeling equally uninspired about their work.
Twitter gave me a voice, which eventually led to a blog, one which I agreed to set up but rarely wrote on in the early day and opened up some opportunities I never imagined. Without having taken time to interact on the platform I would never have written for TES or HWRK Magazine or the many other publications I have written for since my very first tentative steps with a piece on Fortnite, something which according to my pupils landed on INSTA and for a week led to me being a figure of awe in the corridors. I certainly wouldn’t have been approached by Tom Sherrington in the April/ May of 2020 to co-write a book with my other half and therefore the CPD Curriculum and my current book on Shakespeare would never have existed. At the very least I hope a few people benefited from the writing I produced in various forms and the podcasts and conferences I was lucky enough to be involved in.
Most importantly though I wouldn’t have had some of the support I received during some difficult times or forged some of the genuine friendships I have. There are so very many good people on Twitter who offer care, friendship and laughter when you need it the most. I might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but when reaching out for help when grieving even those who didn’t agree with me on pedagogical discussion showed compassion and indulged my desire to have a distraction from what was happening on the outside. We might not always agree but most people can and do remember the human behind the tweets and will seek to find a common ground everyone can move on from. Some people have blocked me, some have me muted, some have changed their mind about me, for both good and bad, over the years. But even Ben Newmark manages to tolerate my ‘Friday One’ and seems to not mind my low-key disruption of his sterling work at keeping a love of musical discussion alive so I can’t be all bad. 😉
Of course, there are extremes on the platform and those who are dedicated to either broadcasting their view for likes or arguments and some who like to use it as a way to cos play their own version of mean girls. However, it never takes away wholly from the quality discussion, the sharing of blogs and ideas, the support people give each other and the basic underlying principle that on Edutwitter everyone has the same goal- to provide better opportunities for the pupils they serve.
Now is my time to move on though. I won’t be exploring all things teaching and learning on there anymore as I have other outlets for that. I’ll be visiting to catch up with holidays, pet pictures, and movie or book gossip but Twitter will not be the platform for my professional conversations. Luckily the friendships I have been lucky enough to find transcend the virtual world and I know they will stay with me outside too.
But although it is my time to bid teacher Twitter farewell it is not without wanting to remind people of what Twitter can can provide. It can your confidence, prompting you to do more and go further. It can challenge you in ways discussion with the same groups of people in the outside world can’t. It can provide opportunities to see outside of our bubble and pass on your experiences and knowledge to others. It can support you knowing that others are going through something similar, or they have your back just because they can.
So, keep on tweeting, keep on challenging, keep on reflecting and keep on supporting. I might see you at some point on the other side.