In August 2016 I relocated to teach in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Before my move I had already made some online connections with teachers based in the UAE via Twitter and I have since been fortunate to meet many of them. I’ve also been able to stay in touch with the online educational community in the UK, keeping up to date with the latest developments and news via Twitter. If you are using Twitter you will know it is a fantastic resource for professional development with networking, sharing, collaborating and much more! I have blogged in more depth about how social media can be used for teachers’ professional development here.
There is an online community of educators in the UAE using Twitter and professional development across the region is fast developing. For any teachers based in the UAE or wanting to connect with educators in the this part of the world then here is a list of my personal top ten tweeters that I recommend following and connecting with. In no particular order let’s begin …
1. Sarah Findlater – @MsFindlater
I have the privilege of working with Sarah Findlater. Sarah is a well known author writing and editing several books for Bloomsbury, such as ‘How to survive an Ofsted inspection’ as well as writing and sharing on her own blog MsFindlater’s Teaching blog. Sarah has experience specialising in teaching and learning, using technology in the classroom and for flipped learning. Now she mainly focuses on leadership, taking on a Headteacher position in Dubai this year. Certainly worth a follow for many reasons!
2. Mark Steed – @Jess_Director & @independenthead
Mark Steed is very well known and respected in the educational community in the UAE, he is the Director of the Jumeriah English Speaking Schools (JESS) in Dubai. JESS is the leading IB school in the Middle East. Mark Steed and his team of staff are always sharing excellent practice with their strong emphasis on digital innovation in the classroom. There are many teachers from JESS on Twitter and the schools (Primary and Secondary) also have their own departmental Twitter accounts. If you follow Mark and JESS teachers you get a glimpse into the wonderful teaching and learning taking place at JESS!
3. Steph Bernier – @steph_bernier01
I had the pleasure of recently meeting Steph Bernier, after following her Twitter account online since my arrival in the UAE. At the recent Bett Middle East, I was speaking on a panel focusing on using social media for professional development and Steph did a superb job chairing the panel. Steph is the Director of Digital Learning specialising in edtech and coding at Victoria International School in Sharjah. Steph has been in the UAE for many years so has experienced a lot of changes in this wonderful, fast developing country! She knows the region well, has a lot of contacts, she is passionate about the use of digital technologies in the classroom… and just a lovely person in general!
4. Steve Bambury – @steve_bambury
When I made the decision to search for a job in the UAE Steve Bambury was the first expat teacher I followed based in Dubai. I had a lot of questions and luckily for me he was able to provide a lot of answers and great advice. Steve has won many awards in the UAE and all well deserved. In my opinion he is the leading edtech expert in the UAE. He is keen to share best practice not just with his colleagues at JESS in his role as Head of Digital Learning and Innovation, but he regularly shares online from his own Twitter account and other accounts such as @iPadeducatorsAE & @JessDigitalUAE. Alongside, Luke Rees he also organised the JESS Digital Innovation Sumit held in October 2016 and will be held again this year due its success and popularity. Any questions about technology – he is your man! A fantastic Twitter account to follow.
5. Thomas Edge – @classedgetech
Thomas Edge is another teacher from JESS. Tom is a Primary teacher and specialises in using iPads in the classroom. At the Digital Innovation Summit I attended his session where he explored the use of Nearpod app and shared many of his very creative ideas to embed technology across the curriculum. Tom is a young, enthusiastic teacher sharing great ideas for teaching and learning regularly online.
6. Rachael Edgar – @Dubai_Teachmeet
Rachael is a GESS award winning teacher, specialising in History, English and Head of CPD. As part of the Teaching and Learning team at Dubai English speaking College (DESC) she is always sharing the latest blogs, research and CPD events in the area. She is regularly invited to speak at educational events in the UAE. It was pleasure meeting Rachael at the Digital Innovation Summit after several twitter exchanges! Again, she is always very helpful answering any questions and offering advice.
7. Osama Abujafar – @Osama13
On the panel at Bett Middle East I was joined by Mark Anderson and Osama Abujafar. Osama is Assistant Head of a Primary school in Abu Dhabi. He has experience teaching across the Middle East including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Oman. His subject specialism is PE and he is a strong advocate for using Twitter for CPD, as he said in the panel discussion… “with Twitter you can have PD in your pyjamas!”.
8. Bashaer Kilani – @bashaierk
Bashaer is the creator of #EdchatMENA which has proven to be a very useful and popular hashtag for teachers in the MENA region, I certainly use and search the hashtag a lot. Bashaer regularly hosts twitter chats from her account, often a slow chat which takes place on a Saturday. Bashaer is an author, speaker, Academic Program Coordinator and IT lecturer in Higher Education.
9. Andy Turner – @andyturner32
Andy Turner is based in the Al Ain region, although his work sees him travel to different schools across Al Ain and Abu Dhabi. Andy is a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) and a MIE Master trainer. In addition to his Microsoft qualifications he is also a Google Certified Educator (GCE). His session at the recent BETT Middle East was very popular, he certainly knows what he is talking about and happy to share his expertise and experience with other teachers.
10. Mark Wood – @mark_wood
Mark Wood is Head of Computer Science at Dubai College. He is also the co-founder of Spark educators, if you are unaware of SPARK then you can visit their website here to find out more. Spark events are the Teachmeet events that take place across the UAE. I have attended two Sparks this year and if you get chance – go, because they are great for sharing, collaborating and networking. On his Twitter account Mark shares about technology, creativity and of course CPD.
Obviously there are many more wonderful Twitter accounts to follow; other suggestions include the regional educational magazines Education Journal Middle East @EJME and @TeachMiddleEast. Also @BettMiddleeast @Sparkeducators & @UAEteachmeet are great accounts to follow to find out about CPD events across the country. If you have any other suggested accounts to follow online then please do let me know. You can get in touch via my contact page or send me a message on Twitter.