I have just been reading through the already extensive list of guest posts on Martyn Reah‘s blog. I’m not sure if this is purely as a response to the incessant negativity of the Guardian’s “Secret Teacher” series, but he has invited others to join him in blogging about positive aspects of their learning and teaching lives, along the theme “sharing is caring”.
Back when I and my contemporaries were in training, in the mist-wreathed years BSM (Before Social Media), I can’t really remember doing much sharing, professionally-speaking. I do remember spending HOURS planning activities, writing plans, creating materials, drawing OHP slides, physically cutting-and-pasting bits of paper before the photocopier jammed and chewed it all up… all of this for lessons about which I had not one clue if they would actually work or not. My first classroom was an ailing decades-old “temporary portakabin”, containing the chipped booths and non-functional headsets of what had been a language lab, and its geographical location on the fringe of the school site mirrored how I felt in terms of my embryonic professional career – on the edge, looking in, not very secure…
Fast-forward not quite 20 years, and I shudder to think what things would be like now without the supportive, collaborative networks of which I now feel a part: overlapping Venn diagrams of #mfltwitterati, #ukedchat-ters, #edchatDE-ers, ICT specialists, mad Geographers (you know who you are!), deputy heads and heads and other SLT-ers, and some “real people” outside the sometimes rather inward-looking edu-bubble! The advent of the internet age and then more recently such social media as Twitter, Pinterest, Slideshare, Edmodo, Dropbox, Flickr, and so on and so forth (even Google +!) has made it SO EASY to share stuff that it can be done in two clicks of a mouse of the swipe of a mobile phone screen. And in both directions: I strongly believe that it is incumbent on us as professionals to try and make this a two-way street, being a giver as well as a taker.
What is fantastic, aside from any purely professional benefits that this has brought, is that I now count amongst my educational contacts a wonderful range of new friends, many of whom I have gone on to meet face-to-face, which has cemented our sharing relationships. It’s pretty much certain that I would never have met many of these people, 20 years ago.
And now, as I look ahead to the next 20 years, I feel confident and secure in these working friendships. If I am not sure of something, I don’t usually google it, I tweet my PLN. And yes, there are of course still ups and downs along the way, but sharing those – the ups as well as the downs – is what we’re all about, no?
Woah. Bit serious.
So – quick bit of more lightweight sharing to finish with. Have been thinking about how to make my markbook work better for me, this year. I have used Excel as my markbook for several years, but it occurred to me that I could make much more use of the “Comments” function on individual cells. While marking Y9s books on Thursday, for example, it became apparent that we needed to revisit adjective agreements (again!) and that many pupils were showing advanced symptoms of “accent-blindness”… 😉
So I simply added a “Comment” box to the marks column in my markbook, and when I handed the books back, the little red triangle reminded me that we needed to look at this together. And we did. I will also be doing this for more individual notes about students’ work,
PS sorry if that’s teaching anyone to suck eggs. But as a Twitter meme told me the other day: “Everyone you meet knows something that you don’t…”
Happy sharing! 🙂