A bbc Interview Overview Review... so far.

     Well it´s been two weeks since I had the idea to interview people on EduTwitter. The main idea being to highlight those lesser-known legends who inhabit this strange social media landscape, but also to lift the lid on profiles and try to get to know the human behind each handle. When I dreamed this up, I initially thought it would just be the opportunity to get to know my Twitter friends a bit better. After all, I spend more time talking to them than my wife. However, things have gone a little further than anticipated.

     I´ve interviewed 25 people, with another 10 or so in progress. Some of those people I consider close friends, part of the #nicestgangonTwitter, but some of those people I had had little or no contact with before. Some of the interviews are just people I selfishly wanted to know better, some based on recommendations from previous interviewees, and some who approached me wanting to take part (humble or what). It´s been a fascinating process, and actually takes less time than it looks from the outside (or not, depending on how professional you think it looks). People have been answering Questions via Direct Message or Google Docs. Some have completed the interview in 20 minutes, some over the space of a week.

     I designed the questions, with help from some friends, in order that we might get a better impression of who the people were that we spend so much time talking to, learning from and occasionally arguing debating discussing Education with. The questions are a mix of serious and frivolous, professional and personal, but all give an insight into the person behind the profile picture. The purpose of this blog is to highlight some of the strong themes that have come out of the interviews so far.

What made you become a teacher?
Nearly everybody has reference a family member (teaching or not) or a teacher from their childhood. It´s so important that we are aware of the lasting, life-changing impact we make on children, both our own and those that we work with. These relationships could make children alive to the potential of learning, and maybe want to pursue a career in teaching themselves. Or a teachers we have the potential to destroy a child´s relationship with learning forever. How many parents come to Parent´s evening and  comment on ´hating´ a particular subject or School itself? How many parents avoid School altogether, perhaps in part due to a poor history of Schooling.

Regardless of what made people become a teacher, I´ve interviewed a wide range of passionate Teachers who came for the children (and the holidays) and have stayed because of the children.

What is your favourite part of the job?
On this question nearly everyone has mentioned a moment where a particular child has that ´light-bulb´ moment, where learning clicks. Other honourable mentions go to the relationships that we build with pupils and the fact that teaching gives you the opportunity to continue learning. 

What has been best thing you have done at work this year?
Just have a look at some of the interviews, there´s so much going on. I try my best to watch the amazing practise happening in some of our schools with awe and wonder (and shout Yoink! at the top of my voice), rather than having that feeling of being inadequate, or achieving less when actually there is great stuff going on in my classroom, and yours. We all have our little victories and ingenious ideas. 

What is the most frustrating thing about teaching at the moment?
Ergh. Where do I start? High on the agenda is workload brought about by mismanagement by the DfE. We all appreciate that Teaching is a high-pressure and of high importance, so comes with a heavy workload. But the general theme has been unnecessary processes that cause extra workload with no positive impact upon teaching and learning. The second thing that has come out has been moaning. I´ll leave that one with you.

What songs would be on your driving to work playlist?
An eclectic bunch! Anything from Whitney to Bieber and more in between. Music plays an important part in and outside the Classroom, and helps me when I´m stressed. Singing is also a fantastic way to de-stress, I fully advocate and recommend a good sing in the car to and from work to relieve stress. It´s scientifically proven to improve wellbeing and release endorphins. 



There´s nothing in the research to say the singing has to be tuneful or actually good.

What is the funniest thing a child has ever said/written in your class?

This question has produced some laughs. Children have a way of unintentionally, or intentionally, making you laugh. This is one of the joys of teaching. 

What is your guilty pleasure?

Most interviewees are remarkably unembarrassed by their love of Justin Bieber, gaming, gout-enducing cheese or Mickey Mouse.

If you weren´t a teacher, what would you be and why?

This question has produced a huge range of answers: chef, perfumery ´nose´, Golf professional... you name it. 

What are you passionate about (teaching-related or not)?

A lot of these responses usually entail something about teaching, or related to it, but the passions of Edu-Twitter are wide-ranging. Music, sport, reality TV, you name-it, we love it. 

If you had to pick one subject/topic to teach on a loop forever, what would it be?

Every single answer has been slightly different. Proof that each teacher is different, an individual, and can create a different learning environment to the teacher down the hall. We are not Robots. We can not be replaced by Robots (hopefully). Each of us brings a different passion, a different angle to the same National Curriculum. Each of us approaches the breadth of subjects/topics we teach with a different level of enthusiasm and it´s important that our pupils experience these different teachers. 

What is the most effective resource/technology/app you use in the classroom?

Some people stated that their TA is vital. Something that isn´t said enough, and something that will become more apparent as budget cuts take effect resulting in redundancies. TAs aren´t required, but they are necessary for us to teach to the standards expected. 

Lots of responses referenced apps or websites that are used, and the humble Visualiser had a good showing. It is very powerful for children to see their own work in lights. 

What is the most effective routine/method/system you use in the classroom?

Consistency has been consistently the most consistent answer here. Behaviour stems for children knowing where they are, who they are and what their behaviour should be at any given moment. This ideal is only achieved when the teacher knows those things also, and demonstrates them thoughtfully and consistently. However, consistency needs to involve a certain level of adaptability dependent on the class. 

Some teachers explained specific routines, my favourite being Sam Collins´ (@samschoolstuff) Secret Walker idea (nothing to do with Andrew Lincoln). 

If you had to pick 4 people (Twitter or otherwise) to invite to a dinner party who
would it be and why?

I won´t list my own choices here, but I´m not surprised that people struggled to restrict it to just 4. There is a whole smorgasbord of interesting, and divisive, characters out there who would be fascinating to watch (in a non-weird way) as they chewed the fat, and the dessert, and put the world of education to rights. 

Some folks went for celebrities, but they probably aren´t that interesting. I think Tim Roach´s (@MrTRoach) table would probably be the most explosive, it depends whether you like that sort of thing or not. 

What is the best and worst advice you have been given as a teacher?

Worst advice, almost completely, has reference the age-old statement ´Don´t smile until Christmas´. How many times has that been trotted out at University, or on Placement. It´s the go-to phrase to pass on ´wisdom´ to new, or student, teachers. It´s also a pile of rubbish. The best advice is set out your stall from day one. Be you, not the teacher down the corridor. Learn to show your personality in a way that supports the learning and behaviour in your classroom. 

Final Question: What drives you as a teacher?

One answer, really: The children.

If you could choose one person who you´d love to have the bbc interview treatment, who would it be and why?

Again I understand why this is hard, but most of the people nominated have been good enough to submit to this process. I´d much rather interview people who you want to hear from than me, it would be a small selection otherwise.


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