Teaching is a tough gig. Too much work for not enough money, and demands that just keep increasing. It makes you wonder why we do it. Ask a teacher, though, and they will tell you exactly why. They will tell you about the magic moments that keep them in the job – little bubbles of satisfaction or support, preserved in the memory and in the spirit, that make it all worthwhile.
There’s the sudden excitement and the dawning triumph on a learner’s face when they finally understand something. Or the quiet pleasure in seeing your students do well and move forward without you, equipped for what comes next, thanks to you. The reassuring smile in the staffroom or gentle enquiry in the corridor, just when you really need it. These are the nuggets that make a career dedicated to teaching and learning so satisfying, despite all the hard stuff.
Social media offers educators ways to share and connect those magic moments, creating golden threads of collaboration so they can grow and learn together. Through the popular #PedagooFriday hashtag, for example, thousands of teachers do just that, tweeting the highlight of their week to inspire, encourage and support others.
Carving out spaces for teachers to share and talk about what they do can lead to deep reflection and changes in practice – or it can just lead to happier, more confident teachers. It’s common sense: when teachers have time to talk and think together, they get better at what they do. Making time to talk, listen and share is the most valuable thing you can do for yourself and, when you share the little moments, they grow bigger and better.
Offline events such as TeachMeets – which, like Pedagoo, started in Scotland – are equally effective at getting teachers talking, with the added benefit of food and/or drinks. Face-to-face learning conversations about practice can happen anywhere and at any time and should be as fuss-free as possible, because it’s the chat that matters.
A recent addition to the teacher-sharing buffet is Wee Goo, a pocket-sized version of a Pedagoo event. It aims to get teachers together and talking for half an hour around a chosen question, selected from an online bank of “hard questions”, as suggested by educators from across Twitter and beyond.
Alternatively, Wee Goo boxes are “postable pedagogy”, containing everything needed to get teachers talking (complete with biscuits). In the spirit of sharing, after a Wee Goo conversation, teachers can replace the biscuits and post the box on to another willing school, strengthening those golden threads further still.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how you share your magic moments – it just really matters that you do.
Susan Ward is a depute primary headteacher in the Scottish Borders and part of the team behind Pedagoo