About a month ago it was my 1st Twitter birthday so I thought it was an appropriate time to write a blog post about my Twitter experience.
As I have tweeted on many occasions now, 2 years ago my life in teaching was not a happy one. I was disillusioned with my job and was having a difficult time at work and I was on the verge of quitting altogether. I had lost my va va voom and I quite frankly, had now idea how to get it back. One Friday night in May 2012, requisite glass of sauvignon blanc in hand, I was reading a short article in the TES about tweeting teachers and I have to admit I was intrigued by the concept so I took the plunge and joined, little did I know how much of an effect this single action would have on my teaching career.
Twitter can be quite a confusing place, particularly if you come into it completely cold like I did. I was bemused by hashtags and retweets and just couldn’t get my head around it at all but I was determined so I found a Twitter beginners guide on the Internet and took the advice given; I filled out my profile stating that I was a teacher, I added a photo of myself and I started to investigate hastags. The very first hashtag I tried was #mfl this was of little use but another hashtag was suggested and that was #mfltwitterati and that is where it all began. My first proper tweet was to the wonderful @joedale who encouraged me to join in the conversation and not be bystander; I took him at his word and began by tweeting educational news stories and titbits that I found online. This in turn, lead to “meeting” other MFL teachers and by and by to “meeting” other inspirational teachers from all areas of the curriculum and across all continents.
Unless you are a twitter user you cannot comprehend the incredible amount of information that is shared each hour let alone each day. Virtual friendships are formed, ideas are swapped, and support is given, as are virtual hugs when it doesn’t quite work out the way you’d like it to! The thing that I couldn’t quite get over was the ideas, they seemingly poured out of every tweet, and overnight my classroom practice was transformed. I had so much new stuff that I wanted to have a go at it was overwhelming and exciting. In short, my va va voom was back.
It’s not just the ideas though, thanks to twitter, this year I have attended my first educational conference (I have been teaching 15 years!!) in the form of ILILC3, which took place in Southampton in February. I have presented at my first teach meet. I have, with the help of the very lovely @amandasalt, written a proposal for iPads in the MFL classroom, which recently resulted in our MFL department being the proud owners of 20 brand spanking new iPads. I have been invited to another secondary school to discuss the use of technology in the classroom because they’d “heard about me”. I have trialled iPads in my classroom. I have created a website to help my Y11 with their reading and listening exams and last but by no means least and after a lot of encouragement from @teachertoolkit I started blogging.
Even as I read over that last paragraph I still find it amazing that all this has happened in a year but how has all this impacted upon the students?
In August I hope that I will see the benefits of all my efforts (not forgetting the efforts of the students) when the GCSE results arrive. Early indications are encouraging but after poor results in the past I do not want to count my chickens.
My Y7 students have definitely benefited from the new me. After attending a workshop at ILILC3 lead by @bains_1 I totally revamped how I teach my KS3 classes I blogged about this here https://musingsfromtheisland.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/spoon-feeding-no-thanks
My KS3 classes recently wrote an extended piece of writing in French. The quality of the language, the use of connectives and opinions are all far superior to any other Y7 work that I have marked in the past and all of that is in no small part thanks to the ideas and conversations that I have had over the year with my PLN. I also teach bottom set Y9 and have used a variety of ideas with them this year too. I can’t say that it has been wholly successful and they have been very hard to motivate but some things have worked really well especially the use of ICT but it is with this class that I feel I have had least impact. However, this week they did declare that they liked me as a teacher but they did not like my subject, which is hardly what I would call a victory! I will however continue to try and build on the success of this year with future Y9 groups.
I of course intend to continue on my twitter journey it is a great source of CPD and to my mind every teacher should be using it. Next year I am teaching A level French and I am very much looking forward to using some of my new found skills and ideas with the KS5 students.
Our department now has a set of ipads and I have been asked by my HOD to take the lead on using them in the classroom. This will take a great deal of thought and preparation but I already have a few ideas brewing…
The thing that I would most like to do is put on a teach meet. Island life can be very insular and thus, I feel it is really important for us as teachers and for our students that we get together to share good practice. It is a work in progress but progress is slow however, hopefully by the time my 2nd Twitter birthday comes around I will have achieved it – I’ll keep you posted!