It may well be an urban myth but an old quotation from John Lennon has been floating about my head recently. “Do you think Ringo is the best drummer in the world?’ “Ringo? He’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles.’ I sometimes get carried away by the nice comments I receive about my blog and my ideas on teaching. And, no, I’m not suggesting I’m the best teacher in the world. Not in my school. Not in my department. Not at my end of the corridor. It’s just that blogging – and the reflection that that involves – often leads you to believing your own hype.
I can’t underestimate enough how much blogging has changed my professional life. Somewhat embarrassingly at times, I’m invited to speak to people about teaching and education in general and expected to have a view on many things. That’s okay. It’s not going to my head. Quite the opposite actually. Rather than building my part up I have realised that I am, in many ways, very ordinary as an educator.
I work with some incredible teachers, often unrecognised, by themselves as much as anyone. An untapped reservoir of talent? I can say quite confidently that none of them are anywhere near Twitter or ever bother with any form of educational research. They inspire children every day; they teach wonderful lessons and achieve incredible results with even the most challenging of students. I see it regularly and look on enviously at times. They know nothing of my blogging or Twitter experiences; they don’t need to. But if social media connections had such an effect on me, what might happen if already great teachers began to connect?
What could we achieve if we got them on to a platform where many more could hear their voices? If they engaged more with research and, in fact, took the lead in collaboration on a whole school basis? What if more of them blogged about their experiences so we could learn from them and share their ideas? Would they flourish in that environment, pushing them to even greater heights as educators? Perhaps the small drop in the ocean that is Social media might explode into something truly paradigm changing.
Perhaps not. Perhaps they wouldn’t be the same. Perhaps what makes them so effective and innovative in the classroom is the uncluttered freedom from the chaotic miasma that is the world of the online educator and their plethora of strategies and ideas. I have a Delicious account with hundreds of links I don’t know what to do with. Why would I subject anyone to that, especially an already great teacher? I often envy the clarity and focus of the teachers next door: their instinctively great lessons and originality. It is something to which I aspire and to which, ironically, I turned to Twitter to find.
I came to blogging to look for a voice in education and I found it. I speak about education with confidence and enjoy writing about it too. On Twitter I’ve connected with great people. But for sheer brilliance in teaching I need only to walk out of my classroom and watch. Watch and learn. And strive to be like them.