Teachmeet and Twitter – I have heard some sensational claims made about the power of both. From ridiculous tweets begging teachers to show the power of Twitter by “retweeting” something, to many “TeachMeet changed my life” type blogs.
Lets get some terminology straight – Twitter is not powerful nor will it change people’s lives. The community using Twitter to discuss their interests has the agency, not the tool. TeachMeet itself has no agency, the agency resides in the community gathering to discuss their interests.
That said. The community of educators has grown, and with it friendships forged that will transcend the medium. As a consequence of connections I have made within the community of educators, I can count people from Kirklees, Lincolnshire, London, Manchester as friends. My son has been given gifts of Manchester City shirts & Reindeer mugs from Finland. My closest friend and colleague is only that because we knew each other through the connection we made via Twitter at a conference.
I like the community of Educators that pervade my social media stream. I am bemused by many, but I like them all.
So here is my theory about the effect that joining the community of Educators discussing their field on Twitter and meeting at TeachMeet and the rest.
This experience is known as “The Quickening”. It is a beginning, not a destination. Speaking at your first Teachmeet is not an arrival, it is a beginning: a rite of passage. I have watched dozens of people grow through the experience of speaking in public. It isn’t TeachMeet per se that has this impact, it is the act of stepping up, facing your fears and telling a story. It is what separated those who do, from those who wish they could. Twitter is a similar sandbox, where it is possible to develop a persona and articulate partially formed thoughts, it is a sandbox of people sharing ideas.
Like any intoxicating experience, it leaves the Quickened wanting more. Much as I gather cocaine does. The high is never the same as the first time. The danger is addiction, addiction to the rush of the induction, the repetition of the same experience, seeking the same high, which of course is always just out of reach. Similar first times exist, first Education Festival, first TeachMeetBETT, first TeachMeet you organise, first time you host #ukedchat, first time you get name checked by Gove. More first times. All a new and better high.
If TeachMeet is and Twitter are a departure point, where is the destination? Or is the joy in getting there?
I wonder if the destination is not more, but better. Better teacher, better person, better influence on others.
I am certain that the destination is not fame, notoriety or a better job. If you are part of a community, then give to that community freely and without favour. Give because it is a privilege to help your peers, not because it suits your purposes and career plan. There is a disturbing trend within our community, there are some who are now using the community to build their own profile, they are not giving freely, they give to big themselves up. The community deserves better. There is a new model of The Quickening but it is about taking the first steps to “fame” and not empowerment, it is flawed. Those who do it are letting their community down.