Reflection on a week as @EduTweetOz Host

“I know what I have given you…
I do not know what you have received.”
– Attributed to Antonio Porchia

Some time ago I was contacted by Allison, co-administrator of the @amuseEd Twitter account and asked if I was interested taking a slot as host of the RoCur Twitter account, @EduTweetOz, which I was. I had followed the account with my own Twitter account some time prior and found the concept very interesting. Some hosts appealed to me more than others, and there were some great conversations that I had participated in due to the host of the time sparking my interest with something. Indeed, a conversation one weekend around initial teacher education (ITE) sparked a five-part blog series (Part One can be found here). I have grown my own Professional Learning Network (PLN) immensely as a result of the conversations initiated by various account hosts and been challenged, inspired and motivated to continue to push myself to develop as a teacher.

I was rather fearful, however, of a few things. Firstly, Dr. Inger Mewburn (@thesiswhisperer) published an article in 2011 (though I am sure I recall reading one more recently, but was unable to find it) that made mention of something I felt in relation to hosting the account:

Fear of being ‘found out’ as fraud, not really knowing enough/being smart enough to be Phd student (@orientalhotel)

Otherwise known as ‘the imposter syndrome’ (thanks @boredpostdoc) this is apparently common in PhD students. As well as possibly being related to self-esteem and perfectionism, this emotion could be the by-product of the nature of PhD study itself. As the old cliche goes: “The more you know, the more you know what you don’t know”.

Though the quote above is specifically in relation to being a PhD student, I felt this way about hosting the account. As a teacher in my first year out of university, I did not believe that I had enough knowledge or experience to be qualified to host the account. This was in spite of believing that I would be able to generate some interesting conversations. I was also concerned that I would put something out there that would turn out to be completely wrong. My other concern was time management. I was not entirely sure that I had the time I felt that hosting the account would require to give it ‘a proper go.’

I spent some time chatting with Allison about my concerns and though I was still unsure, I very much felt like an imposter, and we worked out a timing. As I am attending OzFlipCon15 in October, I wanted to try and get in a week prior to that, in order to generate some discussion about Flipped Learning, and potentially network with some other attendees.

Despite my concerns, I genuinely enjoyed the experience of hosting the EduTweetOz account. There were some excellent conversations, and it was interesting hearing about people’s concerns surrounding Flipped Learning. I made a number of new connections through the various conversations that I engaged with and my blog had one of its busiest weeks ever. My concern about time should, perhaps, have been about time management, and not investing too much time, to the potential detriment of other responsibilities and relationships. Mrs. C21st (semi-)jokingly commented to me on the opening Sunday night that my week of hosting began “so, I’ll see you next weekend.” I do have a tendency to get fully invested in projects, and become somewhat oblivious to things going on around me, and I very much did that whilst I hosted.

One thing which I had not anticipated was the speed at which the EduTweetOz feed would move. To read something which had been linked to, and then come back to either favourite or retweet it, I would need to open the specific Tweet; and there were a number of occasions where I went to favourite or retweet something, only to have the feed move and I ended up doing so to a completely different Tweet. I enjoyed being able to engage with a wider range of educators than I otherwise have access to through my own PLN, and the array of ideas that comes with such a large PLN. I was also able to showcase some of the learning that my students had been doing and build the connections with my Classroom Twitter account, @MrEmsClass.

I will admit that I was mentally drained by the end of the week, and achieved very little that weekend that was on my to-do list, That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the week and feel that the benefits of connecting with such a wide array of educators, engaging with a variety of conversations topics, and growing my own PLN far outweigh the minor inconveniences. I did make sure that I cooked an amazing dinner for Mrs. C21stT at the conclusion of my time as host, though, to thank her for her understanding of my need to invest a significant amount of time in the experience. If you are unsure whether or not you want to host, i would definitely recommend it as a worthwhile experience.

I’m hosting @EduTweetOz

For the next week I will be running the Australian @EduTweetOz account, a RoCur (rotating curation) account featuring a different educator each week. Each week the EduTweetOz blog posts an introductory interview to allow users to get to know the new host. Rather then simply re-post it, I thought I would add in some links to various resources.

Introducing this week’s @EduTweetOz host, Brendan Mitchell

Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?
I am a new graduate teacher in my first year out from university. I completed a B. Teach (Primary) / B. Arts with Hons Class I in Teaching through the University of Newcastle’s Ourimbah (Central Coast) campus in 2014. I did the rounds of visiting schools to drop off my resume and meet the casual teacher coordinator at the start of the year and was picking up four to five days a week work spread across three predominant schools, with the occasional day at other schools. Whilst I was at Future Schools in March I received a call from the Deputy Principal at one of my schools, offering me a temporary position for one term, which I naturally jumped on, with the remit to teach computer and research skills. The contract was eventually extended through to the end of 2015, and I am absolutely loving it.

The position is technically that of Teacher-Librarian, however due to a large-scale building project at the school (all eleven demountable buildings will be gone by the end of it! Yay!) The library, though still there, is not operational for borrowing purposes. My position is an RFF position, and is Monday to Thursday, and I see all classes from K-6 in the school, barring those classes with their library sessions scheduled on Friday (those sessions are handled by the other RFF teachers). I am at various points in my program, and a long way behind where I wanted to be (being fresh and naive I had planned about a years worth of learning for three terms), but am happy with my students progress. With Stage Three, I am just beginning research skills, starting with note-taking; with Stage Two I am beginning to teach them about the internet and how to use it and what different things are called in an effort to clear up a lot of misconceptions they seem to hold; while with Early Stage One and Stage One, I am working on improving their ability to type and understand how to use features like spell check, how to save/open/close files and programs.

As to why I became involved in education, I have written a blog article on that topic, and to quote from that article:

“I teach for two reasons. I had two amazing male teachers in my own primary education. Both were strong men whom I looked up to, as both had a strong presence, as they were encouraging of my strengths and chiding of my weaknesses, pushing me to work on them. They were men who were able to work with all of my peers, challenging each of us at our own academic level.

My three younger siblings on the other hand, across their combined eighteen years of primary education, had a total of one year with a male teacher, and the difference that that year of a strong male influence every day at school made on my sister and her self-confidence in dealing with her brothers and in talking to other male, non-immediate family members, was tremendous.

My youngest brother needed a strong male role-model as a steadying influence and to provide guidance on interpersonal skills in the day-to-day situations at school that a father does not have access to. I teach because I want to be the positive male role model for those students who otherwise may not have one.

The second reason that I teach is due to a love of learning and discovery, a love that was instilled by my family, but nurtured by my primary school teachers. It is that love of learning, the desire to know more about areas of interest, and the excitement of the moment when the dots are joined between prior knowledge and new understanding that provides the second reason why I teach.”

And though it wasn’t intentionally written that way, upon watching a recording of my delivery of the Graduate Address at my Graduation in July, I realised that it articulates, slightly differently, why I teach.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
Given where I am in my career trajectory, I am still fresh-faced, keen, naive, and excited to be earning a living for doing something that I enjoy. I have also been told in no uncertain terms that after four years of not having an income that I will be enjoying the education system for a few years to come! That aside, it’s seeing the look on a students face when the dots connect, of seeing those students who struggle with the little things have success, of being able to get kids excited about learning. I am blessed to have some highly experienced, and still engaged and passionate teachers in my school whom I look to as mentors and their passion and willingness to try new things is something that I find motivating and inspirational. There are also a handful of younger teachers who went into teaching straight out of high school, and I find their experience and energy infectious and motivating. I also enjoy watching Kid President’s Pep Talk on those days when I feel tired and lethargic as there is something quietly motivating about him.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
The biggest reward is seeing a student move from saying “I have no idea” through to being able to show others how to do something, or confidently explain it to you. The feeling of pride at seeing the growth is almost intoxicating when it happens. The biggest challenge I think is time. There is so little time and so much to do. More and more social and moral responsibility seems to be pushed onto teachers as being our job when much of it should be the responsibility of parents. The other challenge I see is inequity and that is a societal issue that needs greater focus.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
I think I would ensure that those making the decisions had current teachers giving the advice. A panel of teachers, nominated by teachers as being experts in the various education sectors, providing advice for a (two/three/four) year period before returning to the classroom and making way for the next rotation. I can’t take seriously the comments of Mr Pyne or Mr Donnelly when they either ignore or cherry-pick research to suit their agenda.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
A very interesting question given some of the conversations that happened during the #satchatoc chat on Saturday (5th Sept) morning. @EduTweetOz provides an opportunity for someone like me, fresh out of university, keen and bright-eyed and naive to the politics of funding and professional development hierachies an opportunity connect with other teachers, both like-minded and not, and learn from their experiences, their ideas, their mistakes. The phrase learning any time, anywhere very much comes to mind, and I see EduTweetOz as a focal point for new Tweachers to join the online PLN.

This week, I would like to explore the topic of Flipped Learning, hear what peoples conceptions, fears, thoughts, ideas and experiences are about the topic. It is a pedagogical practice I only learned about last year and have been keen to follow up on. I attended a Flipped Learning master class with pioneer Jon Bergmann (@jonbergmann) at the FutureSchools Conference, and am attending #OzFlipCon15 on the Gold Coast in October and am excited to hear and learn from those who are putting it into practice.

I would also appreciate hearing from anyone who has or is teaching digital literacy and digital citizenship concepts and skills to students and the pedagogical practices and tools used to do that, particularly the incredibly complex concept of copyright/piracy.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
​If you want to connect with my in the classroom, I utilise @MrEmsClass to tweet with my various classes and connect with other classrooms, whilst I use my @21stCTeaching account for personal/professional Tweeting. I’m looking forward to an exciting week and lots of learning.