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.
In 2015 I joined Twitter with the aim of having a specific account dedicated to my professional development. I remember some of the first teachers I followed were Ross Morrison McGill, Amjad Ali and Mark Anderson. They were all tweeting about #TMLondon. I had no idea what they were on about?! I did some quick research to find out that #TMLondon was a free CPD event for teachers with a line up of experienced and diverse speakers. Fortunately, it was during my Easter break in Wales so I was able to attend. TMLondon 2015 was such a revelation for me and really did inspire me. The presenters including Mary Myatt, Stephen Lockyer and Jill Berry were all very interesting, engaging and shared something different yet relevant. I learnt so much and felt surrounded by people totally committed and dedicated to teaching.
Tonight, I have just hosted my first #Bettchat with @Bett_MiddleEast focusing on the topic of teachers using social media for professional development. If you are not familiar with #Bettchat it’s a Twitter chat, similar to the weekly #UKEdchat, where questions are posed and people respond on Twitter using the hashtag so others can read their responses and reply… simple! A Twitter chat is a powerful method of connecting educators worldwide, to all be involved in one specific discussion or debate online at the same time despite distance or time zone.
Leadership Matters : How leaders at all levels can create great schools by Andy Buck was recommended to me by Mark Anderson. I assumed this book was aimed at SLT given the experience and position of the author. However, as the title suggests it is a book written for leaders at all levels and aspiring leaders. I am a Middle Leader with experience of leading a team within my department and also leading on various whole school approaches and events. I am about to undertake the NPQML leadership course so I thought this book would be very useful and relevant- and it was, as well as very interesting (throughout you can read some of my favourite quotes from this book that I have selected and made using Adobe Spark Post).
How to get better at getting better …
It’s fair to say, the last few years I have undertaken a lot of my own personalised professional development. A significant part of this has been through my reading in various guises. Whether it’s been on social media on Twitter, reading blogs, reading books, educational magazines or through engaging in sharing my own findings through my own practice, I have developed my career to a position which is almost unrecognisable to where I was in my career five years ago.
Initially, I assumed this book was aimed at teachers of ICT and Computing… I was wrong! Perfect ICT Every Lesson is written for all teachers; from Primary to Higher Education, to support embedding technology across the curriculum successfully, effectively and purposefully. Originally published in 2013, it could be assumed that technology has advanced so much in recent years that this book is quickly outdated. However, it is clear that the strategies, advice and tools that Mark suggests are very much relevant today. I can’t believe how advanced the technology was in 2013 at Mark’s school, as many schools are still playing catch-up today!
What does it mean to be a connected educator?
It’s that term you’ve probably heard but what are people actually talking about? The term ‘connected educator’ is the term used to describe teachers who use modern methods to stay connected with each other. Connected educators tend to be passionate and committed educators who use their global network of educators called a ‘professional learning network’ to share, learn and develop their work as an educator. This could vary from having a friend who teaches in another part of the world to having thousands of followers online from across the globe. In my opinion a connected educator is someone who is passionate about education and learning from others. Due to the global nature that comes with being a connected educator, essentially all connected educators are international because their networks transcend geographical boundaries (although time zones can be a pain sometimes!). Connected educators are able to keep up to date with educational issues and debates, beyond the walls of their staffroom and the whole school. Connected educators are dedicated to their own professional development and recognise that as well as learning and gaining so much from others they can also share, collaborate and inspire other educators in some shape or form.
Aim to thrive not just survive as an NQT!
After a very tiring and exhausting year as a PGCE student, I was very fortunate to secure a job at a wonderful local school. I was so happy. I worked at this school from 2010 until 2016. I have mixed feelings about my NQT year and I can certainly empathise with teachers struggling in the first or early years of their careers.
I love teaching ( hence LoveToTeach the very obvious and not so subtle title!) and exploring pedagogy, research, methods and so on. I am also very passionate about my subject – History ( my mum remembers me at nine years old and being obsessed with the Tudors!). Although I have taught various other subjects as well such as Geography, Religious Education, Politics, Drama, Social Studies and even Welsh! As well as trying to stay on top of my workload I aim to keep up with the latest developments in education. As a Historian I am always keen to delve deeper into a specific period or study another event/period/country that I have yet to learn about. Subject knowledge and pedagogy are both very important elements of continuing professional development for all educators. TeachMeet History Icons is a very unique event focusing on teaching and learning, specifically within History. It is a TeachMeet ( free CPD event) hosted and organised by History teachers for History teachers. I am delighted to be a co-host, organiser and presenter once again this year as we return on the 1st April in Chester! The idea has to be credited to my good friend Tom Rogers who approached me about organising this event and I am so glad he did.
Following conversations with colleagues and teachers online about LinkedIn I thought I would run a quick poll on Twitter to see how the site is used within education. The poll asked teachers if they have a LinkedIn account. 311 people voted. The results were 42 % yes with 58 % saying no, they do not have an account. The poll didn’t go in-depth about usage or interaction but several people commented and responded.