It’s that time of year again where being a teacher is probably more stressful than ever. Teachers are worrying about how their classes will be getting on with their exams or phonics tests and classrooms are hotter than ever. There has been talk on Twitter today about an article on the Tes website about bloggers and a number of educators who share on Twitter have been getting a bit hot under the collar about it. The irony of a teacher blogging about those who blog isn’t lost on me, but the reaction of some teachers might have been exacerbated by the heat, the long term, the stresses of the job or maybe – the keyboard warrior in you just needs to step away from the keyboard for a bit…?
A tweet caught my eye this evening from @thatboycanteach and it got me looking forward to the Summer holidays.
Looking for some real sensible answers on this one:
What do you do, as someone working in education, to get re-inspired?
— That Boy Can Teach (@thatboycanteach) June 20, 2017
Now looking at his tweet you might think, why has that made me think about looking forward to the Summer? A good question! Something I try to do during the holiday is having a Twitter break and I suggested this to him on Twitter. His reply asking how this might re-inspire me about education is a good one and so rather than write tweet 14 of 14, I thought I would expand upon it here instead.
Work / home balance
There’s no getting away from it; I enjoy chatting and sharing on Twitter. It’s something I’ve done for years but the reality of it is that it is actually work. I’ve always been someone who has had the best job in the world because working in education and having that opportunity to work with young people and to make a difference in this world has always appealed to me. Like my partner I really do genuinely love to teach and be involved in education but as we know it is so very important to take time for yourself. Embroiling yourself in checking your timeline and ensuring that you have caught up on the tweets of the day is something that I moved on from some time ago. I do what I can to keep abreast of everything but there really is no way of keeping on top of it. A good step towards a more healthy approach to your use of social media is to turn off your notifications and to only look at Twitter when you have the opportunity to look at it. Rather than be reactive, i.e. to a notification, be proactive and look at it at set times. You’ll find yourself being less distracted and probably more productive. I took a Twitter break just the other night and spent some time focusing on my other passion, music and recorded myself a mix to listen to over the course of the Summer:
I felt great doing it and now I have a great soundtrack to listen to when I’m working in the office or on journeys in the car. You might even like it too! If I hadn’t taken that break, the mix would have never been recorded.
As best I can (and I freely admit I often struggle with this although the benefit of doing this is pretty huge) when on holiday time, I try to completely move myself away from Twitter. I might share some holiday snaps on Facebook but I do try and step away as best I can. That hasn’t always been the case. I remember for example one Christmas time when teachers were writing blog posts reflecting upon their previous year and the year ahead creating something like 100+ specific images to celebrate the #nurture hashtag. I even made a load of them on Christmas Day. Bonkers.
Simon Sinek talks about this problem for Millennials in his “Millennials in the workplace” speech which is really interesting. In his speech he talks about the lack of happiness Millennials feel in the workplace and he highlights 4 key areas that are problems, one of which is technology. In it he advocates the moving away from technology and engaging more with relationships in real life. It really is worth watching:
In my life I am inspired by lots of people but none more than my partner and my children. The time that I get to spend with them is very precious. I have been guilty of letting social media get in the way of our relationships. Rather than sitting with my children and playing with them when they have craved it, I’ve responded to a tweet; remember – it is work! By having notifications on and responding to them whenever you have your phone near you is work and it means that in a world where as teachers we are pushed and stretched about as far as anyone can be in their vocation. Those that choose to engage in social media for professional learning means are working even more than they otherwise should do.
Now you’re not going to find a much bigger advocate for social media for professional learning than me. I love it and the professional learning network that I have developed over the years have helped me more than they will ever know. The ability to be able to get help or to contact a niche specialist in their field from pretty much everywhere in the world when their timezone is awake is awesome. My PLN have helped me when I’ve needed it time and time again. But it’s still work!
Spending quality time with the people I hold most dear does massively help to re-inspire me. When I do so, my sons teach me things. When I was playing some games with my youngest son recently, with my notifications off focusing on him, he taught me (he’s 6 by the way) some awesome tricks with Siri that I had never come across before. Not having my phone buzzing away at me means that when my partner and I are out and about and she shares stories from her awesome knowledge of history or from an experience she’s had; it gets my neurons firing in lots of different ways with ideas. And best of all – that constant buzz or audio clip that signifies that someone has sent me a message doesn’t interrupt these magic moments. It gives you the time to think. The time to focus on the most important things. Those people in your life that you hold most dear.
As we all know. whatever age we are, positive relationships are the key to success in most things in life. So if you’re looking for inspiration or to be re-inspired or to even just feel relaxed, try stepping away from your phone for a bit. Try having a Twitter break.
How do you do it?
How you go about it is entirely up to you but what I do when I go on my Twitter break is to simply upload a new avi to my profile to let people know I’m on a break. This summer I plan to upload the image above, turn my notifications off and go on my own personal digital detox. I know that when I do return to work and turn notifications back on (apart from my phone’s battery life dying right in front of me) the world will not have ended. I will still have an awesome PLN. I will be able to dip into some brilliant conversations about education and be involved in educhats. The difference will be though that I will be refreshed, reinvigorated, replenished in my soul and best of all I’ll be much more healthy in mind and of spirit than I would be otherwise making me better prepared to do the job I do. And if anyone really needs to get in touch urgently then they can always email me, ask someone else or if I decide to pop on and have a quick look around to see what’s happening, well I might see it then. After all, I’m only human and we all know I won’t be able to not have a look every now and then.
So why don’t you try it and have your own break. Have a Twitter break. And see if you can be re-inspired by your loved ones, friends and family. I’m willing to bet you will.
Thanks for reading!