Top tweets for PGCE fledglings

20th August 2010 at 01:00
Primary teacher launches ebook of trainee tips gleaned from users of microblog site Twitter

It has become a window into the mundane worlds of self-promoting celebrities and is fraught with dangers for internet-naive politicians, but one teacher has finally put micro-blogging site Twitter to good use, giving advice on how to survive teacher training.

Newly qualified teacher Tim Handley has compiled an ebook of the best advice from teachers on how to get through the first year of the PGCE course, incorporating more than 250 pithy tips from the online education community on Twitter.

The website, which has become one of the biggest on the internet, allows people to say what they are thinking to groups of their "followers" in 140 characters or fewer.

Mr Handley decided to take advantage of the site and asked his online followers for advice as he studied for his own PGCE.

The result is a new, free ebook called The PGCE Survival Guide, which was released last Thursday and has already received nearly 4,000 downloads.

The crowd-sourced book also features insights and contributions from other teachers giving fledglings practical and first-hand accounts of what to expect from the first year in the classroom.

Mr Handley, who is about to start as an NQT at Woodlands Primary in Norfolk, said he thought of the idea to compile a book while blogging about his year in training.

"I realised that the online community has been so useful to me during my training, I decided to set up a trend on Twitter and ask people for their advice," he said.

"I knew I wanted to put it into a book when I finished my training as I could see all the same worries being aired by people on Facebook and other websites who were just about to start their PGCE. I thought I might be able to do something to help."

In just ten days, Mr Handley had attracted nearly 900 tweets from people giving their words of wisdom, which range from "Waterloo Road is not a realistic portrayal of school life. Teachers is" to "Drink less than you did at university".

"I am part of an online education community of more than 500 people, who are in turn part of their own networks," Mr Handley said. "Every day I asked for advice on a different topic, such as assessment or whatever, and eventually whittled it down to just over 250 tweets."

The free ebook can be downloaded from or a hard copy can be bought online. All proceeds go towards printing.

A little bird told me...

Tweets that made the book On what to wear

@chris_1974: "Fashion advice for men. A silly tie does not automatically make you 'down with the kids'."

@vickitoria35: "Remember my pgce tutor (middle-aged man) warning of dangers of wrong bra. He saw problems in cold weather!"

On meeting your class

@MrLockyer: "Remember, they are just as nervous as you on the first day!"

On your first day

@Smckane: "What your mum told you still holds true today: pack your bag the night before you go to school and enjoy those extra 5 mins in bed!"

Calling new teachers

Newly qualified teaching staff can also find more advice from the TES New Teachers website. The site provides all the answers to your questions from teaching experts and your peers. New teachers should visit the site for jobs, news, resources or teaching tips.

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