I was extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to host EduTweetOz Twitter account during the first school week for 2014. EduTweetOz provides an invaluable platform for collaboration amongst teachers, particularly those in rural/remote communities. Additionally, EduTweetOz facilitates teachers with a forum to canvass issues that concern them, and allows teachers to self-advocate for change. It’s an incredibly empowering environment to be a part of.
When Michelle and Corrine first contacted me about hosting my initial reaction was utter terror. With just three years teaching experience under my belt I was dubious as to whether I had the knowledge, skill, or expertise to host a Twitter account that has 3,500 followers. With so many experienced and well-respected educators previously curating EduTweetOz (and doing amazing jobs) I was concerned I would be woefully inadequate. I was unsure if I had enough to talk about, and whether my lack of teaching experience would be held in contempt – what could I possibly contribute to a discussion on education? I considered declining the offer; purely out of fear of ‘failure.’
However, after further reflection I decided that his opportunity was too good to let pass me by. I love a good discussion on education, I love talking about my research in mathematics education, and I love improving my knowledge of education. Hosting EduTweetOz facilitate me to do all these things.
So I started planning. I made an extremely colourful Excel table divided up into the days of the week so I could determine what I wanted to tweet about. Each day had a particular focus or theme: Australia day, starting back at work, advice for beginning teachers, and so forth. My planning document included discussion questions, links to articles I had read and written, and cartoons and pictures I had seen. I tried to vary my discussion questions, with some focussed on getting to know people, others on aspects of teaching practice, and others with a more political slant. I take the notion that ‘perfect preparation prevents poor performance’ seriously, and found this planning time invaluable in preparing me mentally for the week ahead.
In my planning I consider what issues were pertinent to me as an educator. My English Extension 1 teacher, in a unit on narratives, informed us we should ‘write what we know.’ I apply this approach to my own blogging, tweeting, and now to curating. What do I know about? I know about being an Early Career Teacher, about growing up and teaching in regional areas, about maths education, and about my research (self-reflection, constructivism, metacognition and the affective domain). By taking the time to consider these topics I felt assured I had a diverse range of subjects with which I could tweet about confidently.
Nervous as anything, I logged into the EduTweetOz twitter account last Sunday, a flurry self-doubting questions dominating my cognition. Have I prepared good enough tweets? Will people engage in discussion? Am I way out of my depth? My fears were quickly allayed: responses came rapidly and from a variety of educators as we launched into a discussion of reporting and the state of mathematics education. It was challenging. It was confusing keeping track of the volume of replies. But it was fun. I loved it.
Some time on Monday I had the idea of asking teachers to share photos of their workspaces and tag it #ETOphoto. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Teachers invest much time and effort (and expense!) into preparing their classrooms and developing them into environments conducive to quality learning. They are rightly proud and deserve to be. I considered this exercise would also be an opportunity to get to know each other a little better, and to share some ideas about what works in a classroom. I would encourage future hosts to run a photo challenge: there’s many different avenues available!
Maintaining a balance between my own work (study) and the curating the EduTweetOz account (in addition to normal ‘life’) was one of the most significant challenges of my week. It was necessary for me to form some strict guidelines for myself regarding frequency and duration of how often I would be online. Even so, it could be challenging not to open twitter just to ‘check in.’
On the whole, however, I found hosting EduTweetOz conducive to study. Engaging discussions with other educators increased my personal momentum for my own work, as it left me energised and excited to learn more about education. In addition, teachers would frequently tweet me a diverse range of articles, thus increasing the scope of my professional reading. Finally, hearing a range of different perspectives from teachings has significantly deepened my personal understanding of education in Australia. I’ve made some wonderful connections this week, and I am sincerely grateful for everyone who took the time to participate in discourse with me.
Curating EduTweetOz has been one of the highlights of my teaching career. It is rare as a young teacher to have the opportunity to connect with such a multifarious range of educators. To have the platform to share my own thoughts and experiences, and to highlight the aspects of education I find most interesting and concerning. I thoroughly recommend contacting Michelle or Corinne to express your interest in hosting EduTweetOz. It is not an easy job, but it is incredibly worthwhile.