Reflections from @Jarvis001 on his time hosting EduTweetOz

Jarvis Ryan was the host of EduTweetOz during the first week of October. He offered many thoughtful insights into working in a remote indigenous community and we learned a lot from what he shared. Check out his inspiring blog for some further insights into his work in the Northern Territory.

We asked him to write a post for us, reflecting on his experience as host and he kindly agreed.

Here it is:

Jarvis Ryan on Hosting EduTweetOz

My week hosting the EduTweetOz account was a busy and fun time which opened my eyes to the power of Twitter to connect teachers. I’m used to existing on a very small island with Twitter – I might get the odd retweet or favourite but mostly I feel like I’m whispering into an abyss. Suddenly I felt like I had a big megaphone and lots of people were paying attention, which was rather gratifying but initially a bit scary.

Luckily, I’d already made a plan of the main points I wanted to cover during my week, and also had some hopes about what I might get out of the experience. Mostly, I hoped to offer some insight about what it’s like teaching in a remote Indigenous community, as that’s something which might interest educators and there aren’t many other teachers I’m aware of in my situation who are using Twitter to discuss their experiences. I was hoping during my week as host to find more teachers out there in a similar situation to me, and I’m happy to report there are a few. The Northern Territory is a bit of a Twitter wasteland, something I’m hoping to change!

Teachers in my position have an important role in educating others about the importance of Aboriginal education and also the unique features of more traditional communities like mine, where people still speak a common Indigenous language and learn English in addition. It was good being able to talk about that and share some important lessons and reading on how teachers can work effectively in a cross-cultural setting.

The most interesting debate of the week was kicked off with a simple proposition: that equity is the most important issue in education discussions, despite the prevailing emphasis on pedagogy and technology. I didn’t bang on about Gonski and public vs private since I didn’t want to rehash old debates, but the responses were really interesting. Margaret Clark wrote a short piece in response that is well worth reading.

I tried kicking off a couple of other debates but found that it was equally enjoyable to jump into those that were already underway. There was an interesting and extensive discussion about teacher incentives and a host of other smaller threads. Perhaps hosting during the holidays allowed for more in-depth discussions; I know that during the work week I’m lucky to have more than a few minutes a day to check my feed, let alone join discussions or more formal chats. Spending more time online was fun but a bit overwhelming at times.

Maintaining a fairly active presence all week allowed me to observe the rhythms of Twitter at work: beginning with a buzz in the morning, tapering off by mid-morning as people go about their day, into a state of snooze, one-way tweets and retweets as the afternoon winds on, before the energy levels pick up and debate is joined again after dinner. I devoted a lot of time to managing the account and keeping track of the timeline; my work preparation suffered as a result but the time spent networking and taking on ideas more than made up for it. My time in the chair got me into a more reflective state and compelled me to update my blog for the first time in a year.

In the time since, I’ve used Twitter more productively to communicate with teachers and have even joined in a couple of chats, something my family commitments make difficult. Like others, I’m trying to find that elusive balance between spending enough time to ensure productive connections take place, and lurching over into the realm of time-wasting.

I greatly enjoyed my week as host of EduTweetOz. It was an exciting opportunity to be in the thick of things, take part in some great conversations and learn a bit more about what what thousands of educators from all over Australia are doing. Being in a very remote setting, it’s easy to feel disconnected but through Twitter I can stay up-to-date on the most interesting developments in education. EduTweetOz is a unique and invaluable forum for teachers and I look forward to continuing to be a part of this online community.

Tips from Jarvis for Hosting EduTweetOz

We also asked Jarvis if he could share some tips for future hosts of the account. Here they are:

  • Link to interesting content and use it to frame discussion
  • Pose questions to the community
  • Interact with others and recognise contributions through replies, RTs and favourites.
  • Use the opportunity to develop your PLN through your personal account and keep those new connections up afterwards

About jarvisryan

A Sydney-based high school teacher, passionate about politics, history, injustice. And basketball and the AFL Carlton Blues. Like a laugh and a drink.

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