Saturday, 7 June 2014

Why I agreed to do a workshop on Twitter at #NZATE...

Twitter is probably the best way to connect with other teachers.

It has revolutionised aspects of my own teaching style.

I have met other passionate teachers and have even met some face to face.

Now of course, this isn't to say that my real life colleagues haven't made an impact. Because they have. And on a daily basis. I'm so greatful for the people I have in my life and the colleagues I work with are absolutely fantastic.

What Im getting at is that Twitter is powerful. It crosses boundaries like water and countries and cities and school boundary zones.... even school departments.

If you're already a bit of a social butterfly, like myself, Twitter becomes an extension of what you already do.

For me, Twitter has taught me lots of new things and Im so thankful to the people in my Professional Learning Network to continue to allow this to happen.

Sometimes... scratch that... as teachers we are nearly always too busy to add something else extra onto our already full plates/bags/boxes of things to do.

Twitter is that little oomph I need at the end of a stressful day. With other passionate teachers to remind you to pick your load up and continue flying.

A few months ago I redecorated my house... sure it wasn't anything crazy like painting.. it was merely blu tacking pictures, inspirational quotes etc around my house. Some pics of these are on the #whoiamwhatido post. In particular is this one:

Every day when I get a drink of water, wash the dishes, fill the dog's water bowl, refill the hot water bottle... I read this again. Maybe only a small section but it reminds me to fly in formation.

Often in teaching we feel that we're isolated.

I know for certain as a new teacher I felt this way. So much so I chose to stay in my isolated prefab room to ensure others wouldn't mock my teaching or tell me I was doing x wrong. My thought processes hadnt moved far yet from a victimized psychology and I was constantly worried that what I was doing was wrong and felt that I didnt know what I was doing.

Part of this is of course the falsities I created as truths while growing up, and some events that stuck in my head while going through teachers college and doing practicums... at that time still very fresh in my memory.

Interestedly enough I never felt isolated while studying my BA in history and english... perhaps because there was a stronger sense of collaboration in those faculties.

But surely... we as teachers should be even more collaboarative. We should be encouraging others because thats what we do with our students.

Why then do so many student teachers come out of teaching college feeling incapable? Is it the weight of having all tjose futures in your hands? Surely part of it...

From personal experience.. I think it has a lot to do with teaching student teachers about the fact that they're on their own. Like my first mentor H said, "It's the only job in the world where they leave you in a room and let you 'get on with it'."

Why is this?

In a day and age where we have information at the tips of our fingers we were taught by past teachers who hadn't been in the classroom for over 10 years. We learnt the value of curriculum and what pedagogy was... we even had a few token sessions on Te Kotahitanga. Now I love my university that I went to. I rave about it to whoever asks. But I learnt more about teaching on practicum than I ever did while at teachers college.

I learnt that there were a huge structure of school politics bubbling behind the face of a school, and that to lead change - you had to be prepared for the firing squad... sometimes literally.. and of course metaphorically.  I learnt that not every teacher had good practice nor 'best practice'. What's more is that I found it increasingly difficult to be given an associate teacher I got along with. I'm not too horrible a person... but in teaching, especially as a student teacher (IMO) alot of the success and failure you recieve comes down to how well you get on with the Associate Teacher you are paired up with.

Teaching is a personable sport. You have to get along with others to make it work. If you don't have that personality style then you better have fantastic classroom management.

Those are things I learnt while on practicum. And thats just from the teachers. I of course learnt much more from the students.

While on practicum.. I can count on two hands the teachers who made a positive impact on me. They had a relaxed and calm manner with their students and they related to them. They made everything they were doing somehow new and interesting.

What teachers forget is that they dont need to be isolated. They shouldn't fear being observed by others. They shouldn't fear getting criticised or giving students the power in their lessons. Above all else... teachers shouldn't fear collaboration.

Because teachers are so busy.. they forget what it was like to be a new teacher.. that for a new teacher every lesson is a mindfield.. and as you get better you learn how to set up routines and how to improve behaviours and set expectations etc. Because teachers are so busy they forget that they can ask others for help. That an answer is at the end of the hallway or at a response of an email.

Because teachers are so busy they forget to keep up with the latest in teaching pedagogies and curriculum. Teachers get stuck in the way they were taught and how they've been teaching for x number of years. Because teachers are so busy they forget that they dont need to isolate themselves from others.

That's why Twitter is awesome.

Create an account. Search some famous people and follow them. Then what? Perhaps I'll search new teachers... Ooh, I found #ntchat. New Teacher Chat.. but the time differences will make it hard for me to get to view and add to the discussion.. 

Go back to teaching. Forget about Twitter.. wonder why there isn't a NT chat for NZ teachers. Attempt to make a hashtag. Fail. Go back to teaching. Wonder if there are other communities for teaching. Find some radio broadcasts by the Teachers Lounge. Get an oomph.

Go back to teaching. Find out about TED talks. Wow. Find out about spoken word poetry. WOW. Find out about Freedom Writers blog online. Find out about #edchat. Find out about issues that relate to my students. Find out about #edchatnz. WOW!!! So busy though...

Change school. Start fresh. Focus on teaching. Make new friends. Go back to teaching. Focus. Extra - curricular activities.

New year. YES YEAR. Nominated for PPTA.  Go to Wellington. Meet other passionate teachers. Re-introduced to Twitter. #edchatnz #edtech #educamp #eduignite #techrev BYOD. PB4L. Busy. Teaching and collaborating. Learning. Teaching and learning. Sharing. Learning. Focus. Passion. Fresh. Be asked to do a workshop on Twitter. Know that you don't know everything. But going to do it anyway.

Create a google form. Ask others to tell you why they like Twitter as an educator. Write blog posts... alot of blog posts. Think about why you like Twitter.

And now I'm here. Join the Twitterverse. The Twitter Staffroom.

Get relevant PD. For you.

When you want it.

Try. Fail.

Try again. Succeed. :)