Following a presentation a #fcteachmeet about the networking power of Twitter and a Twitter handle (@HantsPrimSLT) that I started with a group of DHT colleagues, Martyn Reah ( a HT in Petersfield Hampshire – @MartynReah) asked me if I would like to write a blog for his fantastic #sharingiscaring blog. I was obviously pleased to be asked, and even more so to write about why I am so passionate about educators networking. I have found huge benefits in last few years about working collaboratively with colleagues, not just within my school but in many many others. The blog I sent Martyn is as follows:
@HantsPrimSLT: Collaboration and growth
For the previous 3 academic years I have been privileged to be part of a DHT support group in the Eastleigh Borough of Hampshire. It has been invaluable listening to, networking with and learning from a range of inspiring and professionally generous colleagues. Even now when I have moved into my first Headship in a different area within Hampshire, these colleagues and I regularly contact each other: sharing questions, ideas, resources, projects…
For me there is a genuine belief and passion amongst the vast majority of educators that if we are in this job for the children (or pupils / students), there is no reason why a ‘staffroom’ cannot span a district (or indeed a county, country or a globe). There is a commitment to collaboration rather than competition which helps us all to grow professionally and leads to positive outcomes for children in all schools.
These DHT colleagues and I set up a Twitter handle during the summer term of 2014. The main reason was that at our termly meetings we often discovered information or ideas from others that would have been really helpful a few weeks previously. We also often ran out of time to discuss the questions colleagues wanted to raise. There was always some colleagues who despite best intentions were unable to attend on occasions. Finally there was also quite a slow process of sharing minutes and resources (essentially all via email through myself).
Having joined Twitter in November 2013, and found it an invaluable way of connecting with fellow educators I encouraged all the DHTs to join with me in starting @HantsPrimSLT as a way that we could all keep in contact and share in a much more immediate and interactive way. Since we started the handle in June I have been trying to convince as many other educators (not just primary SLT colleagues in Hampshire – everyone is welcome) to follow the handle. The aim is for Hampshire schools to use it to share news, ideas, resources and achievements as widely as possible.
I attended two events (Primary Leaders Live and #fcteachmeet) last half-term purely through finding out about them on Twitter. Indeed at the teachmeet I shared (though not very coherently) the benefits of Twitter and the @HantsPrimSLT handle. For me these benefits are:
- – Network with colleagues from different sectors from across the country and globe
- – Read research summaries / blogs with practical advice and reflections
- – Share resources and projects
- – Ask and answer questions
- – Engage in Twitter chats, on relevant educational issues and priorities
- – Be inspired
As I have previously said, I started my first headship two months ago (you can follow our school @cornerstonecofe). I am extremely fortunate to be close geographically to a group of supportive HTs, to have links with two high quality Teaching Schools, to have a range of support from the diocese as a Church of England school and being very well supported by LA colleagues in Hampshire. However Jane Creasy talks about the importance of ‘multiple networks’ and therefore I also extremely fortunate to have the sharing and caring support of a wonderful range of colleagues both from the Eastleigh Borough DHT group and a huge number of national and international colleagues through Twitter.
Most people agree that education is going through massive exponential change – which I personally think will only continue. For some they feel threatened and exhausted by these changes. For me (whilst exhausted) I am also exhilarated and inspired by the opportunities and possibilities. Undoubtedly without the external networks I would be a stressed and quivering wreck, instead with the #sharingiscaring approach of so many wonderful and generous colleagues I feel emboldened, hopeful and passionate about the present and the future. I also love my job.