This is also posted over at the Hodder Geography Nest Blog where I am the expert blogger for the marvellous month of March. If you find this post useful, It’s well worth heading over there as a number of interesting posts containing all sorts of hints and tips can be found. I’ll also be supplying a few more posts this month that won’t be posted here.
I have written about these thoughts before, but this post provides some practical ideas about how to build networks. Below is selected text from the Hodder post:
I’ll let the Tweet of my colleague Jo Debens (@GeoDebs) sum up the situation:
‘The true power of technology in education lies in its ability to help educators connect with learners and to each other’
Jo is attending the European Partners in Learning Education Forum in Moscow, part of a network of teachers developed by Microsoft. She was quoting one of the opening speakers. My point is this – that tweet went out to many other teachers far beyond the walls of that conference venue. For those of you familiar with Twitter, you can follow the conference all this week by using the hashtag #MSPIL.
But we don’t have to use technology – it just makes it much easier and removes the barriers of time, travel and location.
In general, geography departments are small affairs and from experience it’s easy to become stagnant, especially when it comes to new ideas and innovation. I would urge all teachers, and especially Geography teachers, to reach out and connect. There are so many ways:
- Go along to a face-to-face session at a regional Royal Geographical Society or Geographical Association Branch.
- Sign up for Twitter and find other Geographers – (for starters try @GeoCollective @GeoDebs @SamGeoAtkins @GeoBlogs @tonycassidy ). Sit back and see what these people are up to – respond, connect and continue.
- Attend conferences and CPD events – the Geographical Association’s Annual Conference is next month with some excellent speakers. But, it’s the conversations between the sessions and in the evening that allow us to connect and share with other individuals.
- Sign up for Geography FM, an online video conference between geographers once a fortnight where ideas are shared and celebrated and mutual support given. If you’re not sure, watch some of the past sessions.
- Connect with other departments in your school – carry out joint projects maybe liked to an off-timetable focus day.
- Connect to a local primary school and offer to run a project for them.
- Join Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Network, download some free software and turn up to a free CPD event.
- Allow Geography PGCE students and those looking for work experience into our departments.
- Share resources with other schools.
As BT used to say – we’re better connected. I strongly believe that in order to develop exciting, engaging and creative curricular that encourage divergent thinking we need to connect to other teachers. Considering the current political situation and the continual, imminent changes to our system there has never been a better time to connect. There are many departments, many teachers and many students with the same thoughts and fighting the same battles.
Connecting has had a profound and positive effect on our department and provides close-to-free and powerful professional development. It also provides great friends, sound advice when faced with a challenge and enjoyment.
So, let’s park the scepticism and reach out.