Monthly Archives: July 2014

Why should teachers be using Twitter? #CupofTeaCPD Trilogy Part 1

The reason for this post, is quite simply that it is self affirming.

I joined Twitter, professionally at least, in April 2014. I had been a Twitter non-user for a number years before that.

I didn’t get it.

Too little space, too little to read, too much nonsense, if no-one follows me what’s the point? No-one can read what I say.

As such, my profile sat, unloved, unappreciated and under used.

Then I had an epiphany (a late one, but better late than never!) I had realised it was something which could be used professionally and I knew a few people who used it, so I took the plunge and @WatsEd was born. Well created anyway.

Now 7 months later, I have Tweeted 10,622 times, I follow 1328 users (all real people too, not bots or rubbish) and am followed by 1137 users (also real people, I hope! They talk to me, so if they aren’t that’s worrying!)

I have learned more in that 5 months about what is happening in the world of education, than in the last 4 years!

  • OfSted
  • Curriculum
  • Government Policy
  • #Gove
  • Tech
  • App Development
  • Blogging
  • Leadership
  • Global education
  • Updates from Conferences
  • Keynote Speakers
  • Teachmeets

The list could go on and on.

I am not professing to be expert in any of these things, but I know things now that I didn’t before and that is an improvement.

Twitter has opened so many doors to my practice, self awareness and self reflection.

  • Genius Hour (although I already did a similar thing)
  • Flipped Classroom
  • Raspberry Pi
  • Educational authors.

All off this and more is at my fingertips – literally!

I can ask a question of my ‘Twitterati’ and within the day I will have answers, lots of answers, from people in different contexts who have a range of opinions – I can discuss them, argue my case, back down, stand up – whatever I need.

More CPD than I can handle!


So, to the point.

I want to share my new found obsession (and it can very easily become that!) with my own colleagues.

So I asked Twitter…

“I wonder if anyone has any materials for showing staff the benefits of Twitter?”

I had a few responses, all helpful, but it was Tom Bigglestone (@the_tank) who really came through.

He shared both his very lovely printed iPad handout complete with suggested user to follow and a collection of tweets answering the question: ‘Why should teachers use Twitter?’

His blog entry I re-blogged below is the rest of his 10 minute presentation to staff.

It was exactly what I needed – I could easily have written and said the same things, but sometimes it is nice to know that you aren’t alone in your opinions. That’s powerful.

Thanks Tom.


There are so many professionals out there in the ‘twittersphere’ and the ‘blogosphere’ – they are nice people and they are all too keen to share their skills, knowledge and understanding with anyone who cares to ask.

Where else can you discuss a chapter of a book with the author(s) over a coffee – almost anytime you like?

What about discussion about an app that you like, with the developer and coder? It’s brilliant.

If you are a teacher and you aren’t on Twitter – why not?

@BATTTUK Twitter

@BATTTUK Twitter

I have had what I now refer to as ‘Cup of Tea CPD’ so often.

Just make a cup of tea, ask the question and discuss. 15-20 mins and you know more, or you have shared with someone else. Brilliant.

There are so many #chats to join in with – 30 mins of VERY intense tweeting about specific topics. #behaviourchat, #SLTchat, #headteacherchat, #MLTchat, #edchat, #ukedchat, #AUSSIEdchat, #usedchat, #tlap, #whatisschool – again the list goes on. Many of these have the discussion topics chosen by the users. These all have an appointed day and time, so if you are prepared, you are good to go!

Two screens is helpful to track discussions.

Sometimes it is like being a kid in sweet shop!

I have wholeheartedly bought into the idea that Twitte can provides some of the best CPD you can get.

Update: 30-08-14

I have received this document as a result of these blog posts:

Essential Edchat Resource Guide

“This guide was brought to you by USC Rossier’s online EdD

Hopefully you may find it useful.

Update: 02-09-14

This tweet makes me very proud.

A genuine 1st tweet using #CupofTeaCPD


Update: 04-09-14

Another 1st Tweet from my #CupofTeaCPD blogs

Practical P4C

On Friday morning I gave a ten-minute briefing to all staff at my school on the benefits of Twitter for teachers. Accompanied by a keynote presentation behind me, I used the words below as a rough script (though I don’t tend to read from notes when presenting). I also had designed and laminated a double-sided cardboard ipad for all to take away: on one side was a collection of replies I received to the question ‘Why should teachers be on Twitter?’ and a Getting Started guide on the other.

Please feel free to use any of these ideas to “put the case” for Twitter among your colleagues.


“This briefing is on the benefits of Twitter for teachers, and why the fact that only 4% of teachers are on Twitter means there are so many missing out on its advantages. This is not a “how-to” use Twitter. If I what I say…

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A Reflection on: Internet trolls and the School Playground

I read this piece earlier this evening and could not help but feel it was loaded with truth and reflected scenarios that I have seen and dealt with almost on a daily basis in school.

As I find myself drawn deeper and deeper into the ‘rabbit-hole’ that is Social Media, you find it more and more often. One only needs to read the comments on a Sky Sports news story, or a comedy photograph on Facebook and it begin almost immediately. Yet rather than leave these people to it and leave them to their opinions, we fight back and ‘Feed the Trolls’. That’s when the trouble usually starts…

I like many others have 2 Twitter identities and as time has passed there is less and less link between my personal and professional accounts, to the point where I rarely use the personal one. Using Twitter professionally has meant that the majority of the people I communicate with are like minded education professionals, which means that there isn’t that much ‘Trolling’, perhaps a light hearted jibe from someone seeking debate or as a way of instigating reasonable discussion, I have never seen it get ‘nasty’. I am sure others might have other stories.

To quote:

“The blogosphere is a very big playground. Most people in the playground know how to play nicely. But in every playground, there are highly-skilled, expert name-calling wind-up merchants. Their influence relies on people taking notice of them.”

I wonder if this is just another facet of the old fashioned playground bully?
The one who whispers in another child’s ear: “Hey, guess what I heard Barney just say! True Story!” And then having ilt the blue touch paper, retires to a safe distance.

The difference is that as teachers, we always knew who that kid was and kept an eye out accordingly!

The ‘troll’ can be nameless and faceless and cowardly. Hiding under their appointed bridge.

They can hide behind a false online identity, which they do for the sole purpose that the ‘man in the mask’ is harder to find. I honestly feel sorry for those people who have nothing better to do than insult, offend, falsely accuse or otherwise incite others, just to sit back and watch the chaos that follows.

Should any accusation be based in truth, then there is a proper way to make those allegations, and I’m not entirely sure that Social Media is the right place to do it.

I suspect that Trolling will never become professional nor will it become an Olympic sport, and unless in some peculiar parallel universe that comes to fruition, I shall stick to my opinion that:

I Pity the Troll!


They clearly have a very empty life!



As a child, if ever I came home from school complaining of people calling me names, my mother would say: “Ignore them. Otherwise they’ll do it even more. Don’t play with people who call you names.

If I ever protested, she would get visibly irritated: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.  Say that and walk away.”

Sometimes I found her advice very difficult to take. It always seemed inadequate and it never satisfied my inflamed need for retribution against the perpetrators or more perversely, for my desire for their acceptance and inclusion of me in their group.

Sometimes if I could not resist the temptation to retaliate, my mother would say: “If – and when – you come off worse… don’t come crying to me!”

By the time I became a teacher, I had graduated to dishing out the same advice.

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Teachers on Twitter by @TeacherToolkit – The best CPD you can, all get in 140 characters!

What’s the value of that visit? (Part 1)

This post is the first one relating to ‘Wats-Education’


Wats-Education is a start-up Educational Consultancy. We aim to offer high quality support and advice for Sites, Venues and Visitor Centres to improve and develop planning, activities and environments for learning for educational/school visits and commercial public visits.

With our collective experience of almost 40 years as education professionals, teachers and school leaders from Early Years to Key Stage 2, we are well placed to work with clients to develop exciting new or existing environments.

We also have additional specialism in understanding and developing access arrangements for Special Educational Needs and Disability.

Having worked in education for many years, we have been on countless educational visits, some fantastic, others that have left us a little flat and disappointed. On those occasions  when we have found ourselves saying; “This is good, but it would be even better if…” we realised there was an opportunity to offer our experience to help.

We want to help improve planning, access and variety of experience either to existing environments or to help develop new attractions, both for marketing within Education sector or for commercial public events and visits.


On the 6th of May this year I started a survey of teachers and educators to discover the motivation for the inclusion of Educational visits in the curriculum. I felt that while it seemed obvious, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of making assumptions.


I had my own clear opinions and was interested to see whether or not others shared my views or if there was more to it. The survey was responded to by teachers from Primary (inc. Early Years), Secondary and Special schools from across the UK and one from a home educated family. Some teachers from overseas also responded including a small number from New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

There were 10 questions:

  1. Why do you include educational visits in your curriculum?
  2. What do you look for in an educational visit?
  3. What do you think is the most important factor for a successful educational visit?
  4. Where do you find out about potential venues/sites/centres for educational visits?
  5. In no more than 30 words, describe the best out of school learning experience you have shared with children.
  6. In no more than 30 words, describe the worst  out of school learning experience you have shared with children.
  7. Is it important to you on an educational visit, that the venue is well prepared for your visit and has contingency for unforeseen events?
  8. Should venues have a selection of different contextual activities for children or do you think it is acceptable to focus on one specific activity?
  9. If you could guarantee one outcome of an out of school learning experience, what would it be?
  10. What would make you decide to make a return visit to any given venue, either annually or otherwise?

The survey closed on 22nd June.

Results Concept. Results word on white background

The Results:

Why do you include educational visits in your curriculum?

(This question allowed more than one answer)


85% of respondents said that the main reason they included visits was to give children experiences beyond the classroom.

62% said that it was to provide fun/engaging topic starter/closer.

61% backed this by saying that it was to give children that ‘something extra’ that school cannot provide. WOW Factor.

There were other responses but these were the most significant. I don’t think that there are any surprises here. The purpose is surely to get children interested and excited about a topic/theme/idea. I am not sure that anyone would argue that these are some of the key reasons for taking children out of school to do something that will excite them and either set up their learning experience or consolidate it. While it seemed obvious, it was good to see the statistics match up.


What do you look for in an educational visit?

(This question allowed more than one answer)


70% of respondents said that Hands On activities were top of their priority list.

63% said Value for Money

49% On-Site resources and pre-planned/prepared activities

All this seems reasonable. Value for Money is a tough one to quantify. In my opinion that mean that each child comes away having had an experience that makes it worth the time, effort, planning and cost (let’s not forget that often families have to make their ‘voluntary contribution’). They come away with something they can actually use as part of their learning.

What surprised me was that ‘Expert Knowledge’ was the lowest factor when looking into an educational visit (35%). Also low was the Learning Environment itself (38%). I personally think a venue should look ready and be prepared for its guests. This is of course contextual. A beautiful sparking, neat and pristine farm, looks wrong, but an untidy, badly arranged and poorly organised museum is also not up to the job.


What do you think is the most important factor for a successful educational visit?

(Only one answer allowed)


I was surprised at the outcome of this question as it related so closely to the previous one.

When pushed to only give one response, the Learning Environment came out as the most important single factor for a successful visit (23%). So perhaps we do want to take our children to places which are prepared, set up, organised and ready for the visit with plenty of materials and resources available to support the context of the visit, much like we do in our schools and classrooms.

Hands On activities were again an important choice (19%) and an experienced and professional delivery by on site staff (15%) completed the top 3 factors for making a visit successful.

Some of the best visits I have been on have been made by the people we meet, some of the worst the same. If children meet someone who can engage and excite them, it will set them up for the whole experience. When they are by a tired and bored looking individual, who cannot wait to go home, the experience is ruined. All venues and sites which run visits for educational purposes should be sure that their staff are fit for purpose (and most definitely are).


Where do you find out about potential venues/sites/centres for educational visits?

(This question allowed more than one answer)


I didn’t expect any shocks with this question. Let’s be honest, as teachers there are three main ways of finding somewhere to take children. We know a place because we have been before, a colleague has been and told us how good it was and because we googled it!

These were overwhelmingly the top 3:

78% Web Search

70% Personal/Family visit

70% Professional Discussion/Dialogue

Social Media came out at 23%, so perhaps this is no the tool for professional discussion and dialogue. As more and more teachers and venues take to social media perhaps there is greater and greater opportunity for people to share opinions.

All types of written media (Local and Regional Newspapers, Tourist Information) were not a place for teacher to find ideas for visits, nor were random generic emails (10%).

This tells me that the best advertisement is a good experience. If you can deliver that and send people/children/teachers away happy and you will get more business. Teachers talk to each other and we like a recommendation!



I will leave Part One here now and return to it at a later date where I will look at the written feedback from Best and Worst visits, why they were or were not successful and what can be learned from this.

If you have any questions on this post so far, please feel free to comment and share.