The @EduTweetOz community hit a bit of a milestone recently and it’s caused me to pause and reflect upon what this community is and why. It’s also a good time to share our story and beginnings with our more recent followers.
For those of you who don’t know the @EduTweetOz story, here’s a quick summary. Earlier this year @LukeLPearson who founded and runs the @IndigenousX rotation curation account (if you don’t already follow it, get following!), pointed out that a similar account for educators in Australia would be a very powerful thing. It struck a chord with me and I got in touch with Luke, asked if he was okay with me pilfering his idea, and got started. In my head I thought we’d have 20-40 people interested, we’d slowly build community and get to know each other and share ideas. Within a day of putting out an initial tweet asking if anyone was interested there was a phenomenal response. Educators across Australia were really keen to get involved, and being the fabulous people they are, signed up straight away to tweet or help with the organisation of the account. Some people worked on naming the account, others sourced images, others worked on setting up sign up forms for guest tweeters and others shared ideas about how we could manage this account. The support was amazing. Within a day we had an account, a system, images and a team dedicated to coordinating different aspects of the account. Amazing!
From the very beginning of @EduTweetOz the enthusiasm of Australian educators has been apparent. Their commitment to sharing, to inspiring, to learning and doing all of these things to maximise the opportunities and potential of their students is truly awe-inspiring. Watching each curator share their story, spark conversations, lead learning, share ideas and ask questions has been an incredibly powerful experience in seeing a community driven organisation own its direction and purpose.
The @EduTweetOz community represents all sectors of the Australian education system, from early years educators working with our youngest students, right through to university lecturers. The power in this shouldn’t be underestimated. Teachers across states, systems and age groups are talking, building relationships, sharing lessons and learning, building a shared understanding of student learning and using this to improve their practice. We are ‘flattening’ our own education system, creating one where educators communicate openly in the best interests of our students. Imagine the potential of this, primary school and high school teachers building relationships beyond those forced by the systems they work in. What impact could this have on transition to high school? Primary school and prior to school educators sharing ideas, developing strategies and approaches to support students as they move to primary school. Building common languages, sharing expectations and refining ideas, imagine the impact this is having and could have.
In the last week, I’ve had the privilege of meeting some members of this community in person at ‘tweetups’ to celebrate reaching 2000 members of our community. These tweetups have happened (and there’s more happening) all over Australia. I wish I’d recorded the conversations. Teachers, in their own time, meeting up to talk about education, to develop the relationships started on line, to ask questions and to learn from each other. We’ve talked about what quality pre-service teacher training might look like, home-schooling, resourcing, accreditation, classroom design, professional learning and so much more! This is the start of something big. This is potentially the start of authentic communities of practice, with teachers engaging in meaningful projects and research across schools and systems. This is the start of action. This is the start of something that could change the way educators work and how they are perceived.
Without wanting to get political, it’s possible that the education landscape might change quite significantly in the near future. That pressure on teachers might be increased and credibility challenged. It’s up to us to stand against this. Not by doing something radical, not by arguing or complaining but by doing what we do best. By standing together, by learning, by sharing, by communicating with our communities, by engaging in these activities openly and publicly and by sharing our passion with those outside of the world of educators.
I’m not sure what this would look like, but I know I want to be part of it. I want to keep engaging in these conversations, learning from the passionate educators I met every day on twitter. I don’t want someone else to have a conversation about teacher quality, it shouldn’t be necessary, our interactions and our activities demonstrate that quality. Today, amidst a fair amount of worry and fear about what the future might hold, @EduTweetOz warms my heart. It gives me hope that educators, as they always have, will stand up for the future of Australia, and use the freedom that technology gives us to build and share this community in new ways.
This community only works because of all of you. Let’s keep sharing, meeting, learning, developing ideas. Let’s keep bringing our colleagues and our non-educator friends and family to twitter. Let’s be the change, let’s warm hearts.