During the first week of lectures on my PGCE course, a tutor highly recommended that we all create a "Teacher Twitter" account. Soon afterwards I did create one, like I’m sure many others in my lecture did. I was promised a large community of professionals; if I reached out to them, they would be able to support me through my PGCE year. Disappointedly, my curious PGCE tweets gathered no reply and, despite some efforts, my "Teacher Twitter" soon became "Teacher Trash". As a PGCE student, I felt that Twitter was at times a little daunting. It was filled with studies, data and often political. Maybe I didn’t stick around long enough to reap the benefits.
Before I had even started my course, my Pinterest "Classroom Ideas" board was brimming with activities, displays, resources and very ambitious crafts. It was a place where I could put lots of creative ideas, even if I wasn’t going to use them. I looked back through Pinterest during my teacher training, often seeking inspiration for planning. As an ambitious PGCE student, I wanted every lesson to be the best. Yes, Pinterest was a great creative space but I found that most of the resources and ideas were American. Although I could sometimes draw inspiration, it wasn’t used as much as I imagined it would be.
Finally deciding to do my PGCE was a big step for me – I was previously a teaching assistant for five years. I wanted to document my journey, but I knew I’d soon get slack with writing in a journal, and clearly both Twitter and Pinterest weren't the platforms for me.
'Instagram is full of teachers happy to help'
So, I decided to create both a blog and an Instagram page. I wanted to document my journey and also help future PGCE students by posting about things I wish someone had told me before starting. Admittedly, my blog soon became neglected. My PGCE workload meant that I had little downtime. It felt like I was forever hunched over my laptop planning, evaluating, essay-writing and completing compulsory tasks. I didn’t want to spend any more time than I really needed to on it. Keeping up with a blog just wasn’t realistic.
Instagram was different though. It was effortless: a quick snapshot could be uploaded within seconds. On the rollercoaster PGCE ride, my posts were at times scatty but it is always something I kept going back to and I’m so glad I did.
Now, I use Instagram to share what I am doing in the classroom. I post anything and everything teacher-related (see picture above). Lesson ideas, behaviour management techniques, classroom displays, bargain classroom finds, PGCE tips, tutorials, useful websites and books I’ve read. It’s a place where I can ask questions as well seek advice and opinions on things I’m not quite sure on. It’s like having a helpline of educational professionals who are always happy to help. There are EYFS teachers, KS1 teachers, KS2 teachers, supply teachers, tutors and resource creators with a wealth of knowledge and creativity ready to share. It’s a place where I can spill my thoughts and feelings and often realise that I’m not the only one feeling that way. It’s kind of like going into a big staffroom (mostly filled with Bitmojis) and being able to share whatever you want without the pressure or fear of judgement from someone who works with you. I can’t imagine I’d be leaving any time soon.
When I first created my page on Instagram, the teaching community was predominantly US and Australian teachers. However, over the past summer, there has been an influx of UK trainees, teachers and tutors joining us. This is exactly what UK education needs. Positivity! A support system, a creative outlet, a space where self-care is promoted. Where teachers can admit they’re absolutely exhausted without getting the reply, “How can you be with all those holidays you get?”.
It’s full to the brim with such lovely creative, helpful and knowledgeable practitioners who are clearly passionate about all things teaching.
I do hope you will join us? You’re very much welcome.
Carina Roseweir is a teacher in the UK. Her Instagram page is @nqtwithme
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