Travelling home from #TLT14, very tired but smiling from ear to ear, I suddenly remembered that I had been passed a twitter baton for the @ITLWorldwide account. This made my smile turn into something that may have resembled thinking if I wasn’t looking so rough. Independent Thinking are a group of educators that I have the utmost adoration for. They are funny, warm and friendly people who never fail to blow my mind with their ideas. Since joining their ranks in 2012, my minion complex has never allowed me to believe I’m actually one of them but they’ve never made me feel left out. However, now I was feeling some pressure.
That same impostor syndrome, that feeling of, “I can’t tweet that, people will laugh at me.” is one of the many reasons I decided to use my time holding the baton to create a simple, friendly, easy to access hastag that anyone who educates… and I mean ANYONE who educates is invited to confidently contribute to.
The idea was inspired by many different educators over the last few weeks. @OhLottie, an educator that I met at the Digitally Confident Conference, had created a hashtag for her children to support them in “speaking” up about their proud moments. Her hashtag was far more trendy but I didn’t want to steal the thunder of a group of awesome primary kids (and my mashed up brain couldn’t think of anything better) so I let them keep #proudofmyselfie and #proudofmyclassroom was born.
@KevBartle gave the closing keynote speech at Saturday’s #TLT14. His words, inspiring, funny and heart warming as ever, stirred a thought in me which had first been ignited by @ITLWorldwide’s Andrew Curran during the previous week’s Thinking Saturday (you can see why my brain is mush… so much awesome CPD and coming to the end of a half term of full on teaching). Kev reminded us that, “We are all human.” Even the ones who have thousands of followers have to stop to take a drink now and then. Curran is an expert on the human brain and blew my mind with his explorations of its functions and reactions to modern society. The man is a legend! Buy his book for the real story behind this but here is one of the thoughts sparked by his session: If our kids are wired up to take big risks in order to receive instant gratification, how many choose gaining likes on twitter over revision? How many choose uploading photographs for attention rather than do a bit of dusty old history homework? Even if the homework is digital and flashy… how many choose feeling the positivity that their online presence gives them over developing themselves academically? Adults feel that same sense of gratification but most of us are still able to come out of the fantasy and live our reality.
When I first joined twitter, it wasn’t the battleground that I hear of now. Instead, it was awash with positivity and inspired ideas. I could often get lost in this world of likes, retweets and smoke blowing but real life is too real to let me take anything too seriously. This is why I love @pedagoo so much. Their Teachmeets are regular and always about positivity; their #pedagoofriday and community blog invite people to contribute to a community that is always smiling.
Fighting the Fear
I’m quite a resilient person and so, when criticized, I brush it off. Much like some of the stuff that comes out of my real mouth, I don’t think too long and hard about what I tweet. Confidently, I press send often it drops into the ocean of twitter with barely a ripple. Listening to people talk on Saturday about their fear of tweeting made me sad.
People were, in some cases, too afraid of people disliking them, or feeling rejected when they heard the lonely plop of their uncared for tweet. Others said they were afraid of being ridiculed for saying things that others didn’t agree with. Somehow Bartle’s words, “We are only human.” coupled with Curran’s teachings about how our reptilian brain still leaps into action, “to preserve its own existence” (buy his book if you are interested; I will most likely be ruining his message as I’ve only had one three hour session and the book is in the post) mashed themselves together. An earlier ITL Thinking Saturday led by @geogphil on complexity theory made a sudden comeback as seemingly unrelated events formed one related action. Mix these two gems with @OhLottie’s wonderful #proudofmyselfie idea sprinkled on top and I came up with a plan for my part in @ITLWorldwide’s baton pass.
#proudofmyclassroom should invite educators to feel proud of their real life work. Ideas should not be lengthy blogs full of big words and complicated theory; tweets should be wonderfully simple, the kind that make you go, “Ooo good idea. I’ll have a go of that tomorrow.” This is not about who has the biggest ego, the most followers (although if I beat @ICTEvangelist who added 300+ followers during his time in charge, I’ll pee my pants) or the best research that universities can afford. Anyone who has made a resource that looks darn good, tried an idea out that worked well, has been inspired by others to take a chance or just loves the way their classroom looks can join in and feel proud. I have often heard it said that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance but imagine a world full of fearful people not daring to look up from their desks. I’m asking classroom teachers to hold their heads high and be confident this week that, although it has been long and hard, this half term we should all feel proud of our classrooms as long as we have our children’s best interests at heart.
The best part of @OhLottie’s idea was that she did this to inspire confidence and discussion about having pride in your work. She did not do this and invite criticism from her class. It was a celebration. A real life celebration… I have some thoughts about this year’s @pedagoo Christmas party… If I feel enough positivity and my twitter feed lights up with images and snippets of classroom practice that exudes pride in a variety of classrooms, I may just be inspired to take that positive classroom to a real life celebration to round off this year. Let’s see what happens this week.
A Polite Plea
I will not engage in twitter battles. I prefer positivity; there’s enough bad stuff in the world without adding arguments into the mix. I’m sure there will be a cynic or two out there who think this is a reaction to @Learningspy’s blog about ITL… It’s not. David told me to write a blog when I first came to twitter and I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for his input, I wouldn’t be an associate today. He’s a nice bloke in real life. For the purpose of allowing those twitter folk that want to share a little of their classroom pride in relative safety, I would ask that if you feel the inner cynic bubbling up in you or you don’t like a tweet because you already do something better or you’ve evidence to suggest what they are doing is crap, just ignore it and move on. I would love to see this week through without anyone who plucked up the courage to share feeling that reptilian response of needing to return to the safety of their hiding places. This is a celebration of a half term’s hard graft and I sincerely hope it makes people smile whether they have contributed or just taken away a gem.
Fingers crossed xx