With speculation at fever pitch and on a global scale far greater than that around the shortest tenure of Prime Minister in British political history, I thought I would create a montage of highlights should I be eliminated from the competition of social media as @TonyAdams was from @bbcstrictly in November 2022.
The writing opportunities
Because of the connections made through Twitter, I was invited by @MrsSarahMullin to contribute to “What They Didn’t Teach Me On my PGCE”. My contribution was heavily edited and I completely understand why. But it was seeing the book listed as a best-selling title that bought me back to Twitter after my period of self-imposed purdah at the end of 2019.
I managed to get a few more pages thanks to @HughesHaili who invited me to contribute to both her collection of reflections on “Preserving Positivity” as well as her amazing anthology of “Humans in the Classroom”.
Twitter has clearly created tribalism between those who work in or are associated with teaching and have gone on to become published authors. The debates range from criticising their works to the suggestion that only “academics” should be authors and some publishers not being worth the paper they print. Personally, I do not object to the notion of #educelebs and wish them every commercial and professional success they secure and cultivate. They do however remind me of this wonderful parody from CBBC’s “Class Dismissed” and the student-phobic Headteacher, Hillary Head who featured in the mockumentary’s second series.
The real-world connections
As I pontificated in a previous post hosted on this platform, I was initially inspired to join Twitter by @natachakennedy as a way of simply engaging with others. As my wonderful wife says, she thinks social media has a positive power where mere mortals like me are able to directly connect with those I admire and am inspired by. Here’s one of my all-time highlights:
It was during that year when the world went weird I saw how wonderful social media was in maintaining contact with others. My bosses were very kind in deciding that I would work from home from the 24th of March 2020 until the second half of the Summer Term began in June 2020. Although I’m not particularly sociable at my workplace as I believe in maintaining a ‘firewall’ between professional interests and personal pursuits in real life, I found it comforting to be able to ‘chat’ with others in the virtual staffroom of the #teacher5oclockclub and other similar communities or social media collectives. As social distancing conditions relaxed, the virtual contacts became real-world connections. I am always delighted to meet people I have been in correspondence with through social media. Unlike those awkward pen-friend foreign exchange moments from my secondary school days, Twitter seems to have empowered established acquaintances on a personal level which have been really edifying because of our shared experiences and overlapping professional interests.
It was also through Twitter that I found out about all of the learning opportunities that I’ve been able to benefit from since becoming subject lead for Computing in 2020. Meeting others on webinars, people on the same call have realised existing connections as well as making and maintaining new ones. It was at the #CASVirtual2020 series of webinars that I first met @MrMICT who has become a kindred spirit in real life as has @EatSleepICTRpt. I recognise that my social media presence is very entwined with my paid role as a teacher of Primary Computing and A-Level Computer Science. I would not have been able to secure nomination for Fellowship to the Chartered College of Teaching had it not been for the connections I have made through social media.
Memory making moments
It has also been because of Twitter that this moment happened to back in August 2019:
Beyond my Andy Warhol moment, it has also been directly through Twitter that I have received invitations to speak at events to share on an extended basis thoughts and ideas to hopefully support and inspire others. The technical origins of Computing makes what Twitter’s: @MWimpennyS refers to as PCK or pedagogical and content knowledge required for teaching computing feel very niche. This ‘niche-ness’ as it were also makes it feel quite lonely too despite working for a three-form entry school which is part of a Multi-Academy Trust. Twitter has been that wider community of colleagues where ideas are shared especially through weekly chats like #PrimaryRocks on Mondays, #CASChat Tuesdays, #TheLeadersTeam LiveChat on Wednesdays and #ShareStuffSunday.
Whilst the outlook at the time of writing for the future of Twitter might seem bleak, should the platform be permanently unplugged, it will be hard and I will be devastated to lose what I’ve cultivated and curated since my return to Twitter in early 2020. I am sure though we will be rebuilding all of these wonderful connections. To parody the immortal words of Dame Vera Lynn, we just “…don’t know where… don’t know when…” (PS: Should the lights go out on Twitter, my handle switched to its first and surname form “at” the subtitle of this closing paragraph is how people will be able to continue to contact me).