Emily Weston on the difference Twitter has made to her teaching
Just over three years ago I signed up to Twitter in an educational capacity. I already had a personal account, but had started to see chatter online about a teaching community on the social media platform.
The time, I was in a very unhappy school situation where I was not receiving much support and it was a hugely negative environment. My confidence was at an all-time low and I didn’t know if this was the job for me anymore. I was searching for change.
And, while it may sound dramatic, Twitter seriously helped to make a huge difference.
The first impact Twitter had was it allowed me to discover new ways of teaching that I would not have come across otherwise. Whether it was topic, maths or science teaching there was an abundance of resources and a wealth of knowledge to draw on.
I found it amazing that so many teachers were willing to share what they had – and all for free too.
Any questions I had were answered immediately. One memorable time was when I had a girl in my class with anxiety. I asked for advice on how to help her and, because of Twitter, I was able to supply both the child and her parents with a list of books, activities, websites and resources which started to have an impact.
A lot of them I would never have heard of had they not been recommended to me. The same goes for children’s books. Before Twitter I knew of the classics, or would hear of a new book if it was heavily publicised; Wonder, for example.
But since joining this community I am now aware of the amazing literature children have available to them. Something, had I not been online, I wouldn’t have heard as much about.
The more confident I became with Twitter, the easier I found it to also share my own ideas and lessons. At first, I wasn’t sure what I was sharing would be helpful to anyone else’s teaching. But I wanted to give back what I was lucky enough to get.
Sharing my ‘shoe inference’ lesson was a game changer for me; so many people asked for this lesson and its resources and I ended up sending it as far as America and Australia.
As much as Twitter is not about likes, retweets or followers, at the time when I was on the verge of quitting teaching, it really helped me to see maybe it was the school that was the issue, not me.
It did, in some way, help spark my passion for teaching back up.
After being an active participant of ‘Edu-Twitter’ for a while, I then decided to go to Reading Rocks – my first weekend CPD session. I’d seen lots of buzz around some of these different weekend events with lots of valuable ideas being mentioned online. But part of me did wonder, is it worth giving up my weekend for?
It turns out, it absolutely was. With brilliant keynote speakers and workshops, I found I learned more in that one day than most of the CPD sessions I had previously been on. For the most part, it’s regular teachers giving up their own time to organise, speak at and promote these events and therefore I found they were full of ideas and tips I could take and put in to my own classroom with little or no prep.
Again, these events were something I would not have discovered had it not been for Twitter.
The most important aspect of Twitter for teachers though is simply the support offered by fellow colleagues in the profession. It’s almost essential.
Twitter is not just great for advice on lessons or teaching practice, but there are also people who are willing to help with personal issues; people going through stress or anxiety; support with job applications or interviews. The list goes on.
I’ve been lucky enough to have met a really good group of friends too. Having a group of people who are in the profession you can talk to can be so valuable. Twitter has always been a positive experience as a teacher. And I know it may not be the same for everyone, but I believe it’s added value not only to my teaching but also to me as a person.