This is a perfect example of why I love Twitter. It provides me with opportunities to discuss and converse around issues to do with my day job, Headteacher, and education, both of which I remain passionate about. There was a time when our only opportunity to collaborate was within our own establishments and own areas, and that wasn't always easy. We might get the opportunity to go to the odd conference or course that would allow us engage with others from further afield. We could always read, and I have always done this, but we lacked opportunities to speak directly to the writers of those books, or the publishers of research. Not any more. Now, through the use of social media, such as Twitter, we are now able to engage directly with these same people and discuss their writing and research. We can now speak to teachers, leaders, academics and other educationalists at a national and international level, all from the comfort of our favourite chair or any other convenient space. I have even joined in discussions whilst sat in my car waiting for my wife to finish shopping. All of this engagement helps me to develop my own thinking and understanding and this has an impact on my practice, and enables me to better lead my schools so that we produce better outcomes for all our learners.
I meet lots of colleagues who ask me how I find the time to Tweet. My response is always the same. If you want to keep developing, if you want to keep improving, if you want to keep up to date and current, if you want to collaborate, if you want be involved in wider professional dialogue and if you want to extend your professional learning network, so that it has no bounds and if you want to do this at no cost except in the time spent, then how can you not find the time? Every engagement I have on Twitter is an opportunity to grow and learn, as well as helping others to do the same. And it's fun too! I have learnt so much from people I engage with on Twitter and they have helped me develop as a teacher, a leader and a learner. Being on Twitter has allowed me the opportunity to try out new thoughts and ideas, without having to wait to meet up physically with people, but as soon as I have had the germ of an idea. This allows me to test out my thinking and, most people, are helpful and want to support and encourage. One of the greatest joys is when you finally meet up with people you have been talking virtually to for a period of time. They always seem surprised by my accent, for some reason!
Some people Tweet direct from conferences or meetings and many of these now have hash tags as they seek people to tweet live as the conferences and meetings are happening in real time. This is a fantastic way to hear key messages being delivered at conferences and meetings that you haven't been able to access because of location or cost. I have tried this myself, but found it quite hard to listen to what is going on and tweet at the same time. I much prefer to take notes at such events then tweet about them, or blog, soon after. Either way, this helps me to engage with and remember the main messages I have heard and allows me an opportunity to find out what other people think about these. Like Michael Fullan and others, I really believe that collaboration is the key to school and system development. Twitter provides us with another means of collaborating with as wide a network as you wish. If you are not tweeting now, find time and give it a go. You could start with #gtcsPL
I also Blog. Of course you will know this if you are reading this. The reasons why I blog, and I make time to do so, are similar to my reasons for being on Twitter. I want to engage with others. I want to develop and clarify my thinking. I want to collaborate with others. I want to explore issues around teaching, education and leadership. Yes, I can and do take part in conversations around all of this within my schools, within my area and even at a national level. But the more people you engage with, and the wider that engagement, the more likely you are to be able to achieve the aims above. I don't want to be parochial in my outlook, I want to explore thinking, research, evidence and experiences from educators all over the world. Blogging, as well as Tweeeting, allows me to do this. I have always written in order to help develop my own thinking. Blogging is an extension of this. I also like to think I am contributing to the debate on leadership and education and I am, hopefully, helping and supporting others on their own personal journey of professional development and growth. I want to contribute at a local level, at a national level and now at an international level. Readers of this blog are located all over the world and I am honoured that I have regular readers in lots of countries and am hopefully helping them, even if it just to think, 'I don't agree with that' or 'that's not what I would do.'
If I am asked again why I Tweet? Or why I Blog? My answer is going to be "I can't afford not to' I owe to my pupils, my colleagues, my employers and to all the wonderful people I have met and worked with to share our experiences and our learning so that I keep growing and developing and help other to do the same.