It was probably about 12 months ago that I first started my love affair with Twitter. I had set up an account some time ago, followed one or two celebs but didn’t really get it, if I’m honest. It wasn’t until I returned from maternity leave that I heard some colleagues talking about Twitter and its uses in school. So I had another go. Gradually, I’ve unfollowed the celebs and followed more and more like-minded professionals. To begin with, it was a bit like my first day of university: keep your options open and make lots of friends, then find out what you have in common over a time. At uni, I made friends with everyone one my floor on the first day, but very quickly discovered that, as I was a BEd and they were all aspiring artists, we didn’t have a great deal in common, so we had less and less to do with each other. The same with Twitter: I have learned to look at people’s profiles and read through their tweets before deciding whether to follow them or not. There are so many people out there with much to give; I don’t want to clutter my feed with tweets that aren’t really relevant or interesting to me.
It’s odd, but there are people who I follow who I have really come to respect and value their opinions. I have never met these people, and probably won’t ever meet the vast majority of them, and for many, I know nothing about them apart from a sentence or two on their profile. But I seek and listen to their advice, and I care about how they view me as a professional. They probably don’t have an opinion either way about a teacher from Gloucester who shares random musings, but I value their professional views, and that includes about me. That sounds incredibly vain, I know, but how often do we actually tell other teachers we know what a good job they are doing? Twitter is an amazing way to share and recognise good practice.
For a while, I got a little bit obsessed about followers. I don’t have that many, but I would check regularly to see how many I had. When I lost a follower or two, I would begin to wonder why: what had I written that would cause offense? Had I shared a blog once too often and annoyed them with my constant links? Had I said something contentious or stupid? What could I have done to make them stay? And then, I gave myself a metaphorical slap around the face. Get over it! So what if someone unfollowed me – I’ve done it to others, and do you know what? I’ll do it again! It’s not a personal reflection on anyone’s personality if I stop following them: it’s not them, it’s me. We’ve just drifted apart. We just don’t have anything in common any more. I’m sure Phillip Schofield and Jason Donovan didn’t lose any sleep when I stopped following them and their follower count went down by one. So nor shall I.
Twitter is an amazing resource. I don’t know that it can be beaten for finding other professionals to have constructive and informative discussions with, for sharing ideas and for keeping informed. It is without doubt the best source of CPD I have ever come across, and I would recommend it to anyone. But it comes with a health warning: it is extremely addictive. There’s no way I’m giving up Twitter, no way in the world. But I am going to take it for what it is, and not a popularity contest!