This may seem like a strange way to promote a teaching conference, but bear with me. My main point is, that whilst twitter and teacher run conferences are great, we shouldn’t kid ourselves that they have the largest reach nor that a lack of engagement with them excludes teachers from being the best. Teaching is CPD.
Teachers have been providing professional development for each other for years. I remember getting involved in the Staffordshire Learning Network where we arrange regular get-togethers to share resources, the promise of meeting up with strangers met via chatrooms led to a community that still thrives now. Before that, I remember meeting as part of the Hampshire Geography Think Tank to co-author schemes of work; meeting up with local teachers through Geographical Association and Royal Geographical Society links and just chatting to teachers in the staff-room about what they were up to. The point is that teacher driven CPD is nothing new, perhaps that Twitter has amplified and allowed events to grow within a certain echo chamber.
What we mustn’t forget is that there are plenty of brilliant teachers and leaders who are not on social media, indeed, I may be bold enough to argue that the very best teachers and leaders aren’t on social media as they are busy teaching, planning and marking rather than building a profile. Indeed, as I’ve argued previously, twitter is not the best form of CPD and not engaging in Twitter does not mean that professional development is impossible. My own teaching has benefited from opportunities from Twitter, but the best CPD I receive is reading journal articles and talking to teachers. Observing teachers teach and thinking about teaching. Indeed, the best CPD has been found in doing the job (for example taking over a Geography department failed in an Ofsted subject inspection) and learning quickly within context, supported by a strong performance management structure.
Having said this, I know that a campfire approach to CPD is best. A drip fed, continuous affair, aligned to the school’s priorities but also sculpted by the individual. This is not that this form of engagement is not valuable (Many INSET days are filled with (un)necessary training (safeguarding being one example); this week I’m running TeachMeet RGS and planning TeachMeet gaconf18. In this vein, help us to reach out beyond social media to get teachers along to Southern Rocks. We have ice cream, over 30 sessions and three fantastic keynotes by Amjad Ali, Jo Payne and Paul Blake. We have a pre-event on the Friday and wash-up networking shindig on the Saturday and a wide range of prizes including the chance to visit Iceland thanks to Discover the World.