A teaching moment in time

27th September 2013 at 01:00
At 11am local time on 12 September, teachers all over the world sent TES Connect a snapshot of what they and their students were up to. The experiment revealed that school is an exciting - and happy - place to be in almost any country

It became clear that TES Connect's A Teaching Moment in Time project had caught the imagination of the world's teachers when we started to receive contributions from South Pacific islands we had not even heard of.

The project was an effort to use the power of social media to paint a picture of the world's schools at one moment in time. We believed that if the idea worked, it could reveal the similarities and differences between the lives of teachers and students in countries around the globe.

Teachers got involved in their thousands. They emailed, tweeted, shared, commented and sent photos from Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean, from troubled Egypt, from Nova Scotia in Canada and even from the most remote school in the world on Tristan da Cunha in the Atlantic Ocean.

As 11am arrived in different countries and regions, teachers took a moment to share their moment. In Mauritius, we learned, they do continuing professional development on the beach; in Ukraine the celebration of the harvest is still a big deal.

Extraordinary people told us extraordinary stories. For example, Mahmoud Marei in Cairo, Egypt, emailed us about a team-building day with a difference.

"All our schools have been shut for two weeks because of national security and a military curfew. In our school we always try to be positive, so it was a last-minute decision to have this fun day. The photo is of a 'pulling the rope' competition - a bright mind suggested men v women. In our school we are a handful of men only - the female teachers took it very seriously and we were outnumbered! But they were really too strong for us."

And then there was Carl Perkins on Tristan da Cunha. He is the only teacher at the island's school, the most remote in the world. It just so happened that a ship with 70 visitors was due to arrive at 11am on 12 September, triggering much excitement in Carl's tiny one-form school. Frustratingly, a storm was preventing it from docking - our live blog kept readers up to date with the situation.

But everything was put into perspective by this extraordinary missive from Mohammad Mohammad: "Here in Iran there are so many talented people looking for international occasions concerning their profession (such as this one), but they have no chance to participate."

And at one point we simultaneously received messages from Israel and Palestine.

Changing lives

It soon became clear that what teachers share is much more significant than how they differ: teaching, learning and their students were at the forefront of their minds wherever in the world they were. In fact, it soon became apparent that some teachers were turning the premise of the project on its head, using it as inspiration in their classes. Suddenly we found ourselves live-blogging a global lesson. The experiment, it seemed, was working.

All the teachers who took part were joyful, enthusiastic and engaged. In fact, 87 per cent of respondents to our poll on the day said that they were happy or very happy in their work (see page 29). Not for them the cliche of a worn-out, cynical profession. For these people, teaching is a vocation, not a job, and their students are the focus of their professional lives. If A Teaching Moment in Time taught us anything, it is that teachers the world over live to make a difference.

The project was live-blogged for 21 hours. It involved 2,057 teachers in more than 50 countries and in 21 of 23 occupied time zones. The picture it painted was extraordinary.

Perhaps the best summary came from @WeilAnnasus, a teacher tweeter in Malaysia. "So inspiring to see the whole world come together in #teachingmoment. Thank you teachers for your passion and drive to continue to make a difference."

The live blog of the project can still be read at www.tesconnect.comone-moment

Geneva, Switzerland

Here's Class 4B, a group of 13- and 14-year-olds.

Rachael Harris

Toulouse, France

Revealing the power of prime numbers with the Prime Pictures activity (bit.lyPrimePictures), based on a wonderful prime number visualisation (bit.lyPrimitivesResource).

Jim Noble, International School of Toulouse

Cairo, Egypt

This photo was shot during a team-building day that was scheduled suddenly. All our schools have been shut for two weeks because of national security and a military curfew. In our school we always try to be positive, so it was a last-minute decision to have this fun day. The photo is of a "pulling the rope" competition - a bright mind suggested men v women. In our school we are a handful of men only - the female teachers took it very seriously and we were outnumbered! But they were really too strong for us.

Mahmoud Marei

Tokyo, JAPAN

I'm an art teacher! Was this really in my job description?


Berkshire, England

A teacher in transition.

Claires Court Schools


Children from a nearby primary school (in the yellow uniforms) desert their cleaning duties to watch kindergarteners play.

Ellie Barrett

Essex, England

Year 13 wearing masks and arguing in philosophy.

Andy Lewis @IteachRE

Herm, Channel Islands

All nine students at our small school watch the Battle of Britain display.

Herm Island School

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Grade 9 students decorate the classroom. I am loving my bright and beautiful learners.

Lara van Lelyveld

Kuda Bandos, Maldives

Teachers deliver a lesson and activities on the "picnic island" of Kuda Bandos.

Aishath Ikrama

Benghazi, Libya

Leigh Lawrenson

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

To keep children engaged with school during the holidays, the Kampuchean Action for Primary Education-Voluntary Service Overseas summer school in Oreang provided extra classes. Children learned English and traditional Bunong dancing.

Edwin Zuidema

Habuka, Japan

Wish you were here! Students enjoying the fresh mountain air.


Hainan Island, China

Students from Dulwich College Shanghai enjoying China Week activities.

Ian McHugh


Making a travel documentary with my Year 11 class.

Julia Knight


An enquiry into "what makes a good community".


California, US

A volunteer shift at the San Diego Food Bank, with two colleagues and 12 students from Grade 10. This week, for two and a half days, lessons are suspended at the Bishop's School to allow for activities such as this.

David Maycock

Indiana, US

Three-year-olds at Saint Mary School discover an animal for each letter of the alphabet.

Heather Taube

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Year 1 at St George's College North reading an interactive story about a duck called Gus.

Anna Henderson

Ontario, Canada

Children doing collaborative painting.


Tristan da cunha

A huge ice-breaking ship attempts to dock near the most remote school in the world.

Carl Perkins

2,057 teachers took part in A Teaching Moment in Time

87% of respondents to a poll on the day said they were either happy or very happy in their work


We asked the thousands of teachers who got involved in A Teaching Moment in Time to answer one question: how happy are you in your work?

It turns out that you are a cheerful lot (see diagram above). So much for the global cliche of miserable, stressed teachers.

The happiest in the world appear to be in Canada and in Zimbabwe, where teachers have been at the forefront of the movement attempting to oust Robert Mugabe. But if Anesu Chifamba, who teaches in capital city Harare, is anything to go by, it's the teaching that spurs them on. "Teaching is a unique profession as it allows you to learn as you teach, to discover as you teach; it allows you to discipline others and yourself in the process," he said.

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