The Magic of Northern Rocks

It’s coming up to a year since I made my first real foray in to the world of Twitter after my mate Jim said I’d really enjoy it. He was right. I’ve had a whale of a time since last summer. It took me a while to work out who was who and who was linked to who and to realise how there’s a system: do a blog, then a mate tweets saying this is a brilliant blog, then tweet back thanks…and so it goes round. And then there’s the spats! Oh how I enjoy sitting back and watching them unfold. Such fun.

I always wondered how people managed to say things in 140 characters and then I realised that it’s actually quite easy but that most people *cheat* and add the rest in a blog. So I got a blog! I find I like having one and people seem to enjoy what I write. So that’s me sorted and a fully paid up member of the Twitterati.

I never stop talking about Twitter at work because I’ve discovered it’s a great place to get ideas and to learn things, to have your thinking challenged and shaped, to share and join in. Plus, somehow, Twitter knows everything first. I don’t know how this works but it keeps me well informed. The gang at work think I’m quite mad! But I know better.

You see, in addition to all this good stuff, there’s more. I started reading about these things called Teachmeets and Pedagoo and conferences and research meetings and it all seemed fabby. So imagine my joy when I realised there was one coming near me – Northern Rocks in Leeds. I was a bit late to the party but managed to get a ticket from someone who was unable to attend. Yippee. And there’s a thing – imagine Emma and Debra (those brilliant organising women) with all they had to do to get the damn thing running managing to match people like with me with people with a ticket to sell. I couldn’t wait to get there. I wanted to see loads of things and I was sure I’d be able to find the people I recognise from Twitter and speak to them for real.

And so I set off after a lot of wittering and worrying about driving to Leeds – I’m traumatised after an incident in the dark and rain involving a bus lane, a red light and an unmarked police car when all I wanted was to find a car park! Thanks to @tstarkey1212 for putting up with my wittering – wouldn’t it be nice to meet him on the day! In the end I got there trouble free and very early and ran in to my friend @mishwood1 – a good start but that was the last I saw of her!

It was great in so many ways and there really aren’t words to thank Emma and Debra for putting it all together. It was magical and special and heartwarming…thank you both.

I loved the panel debate at the start with Dominic Cummings giving a good account of how the Government works. Long story short, it doesn’t and “The Thick of It” had it exactly right. Then what to choose? Well, in my case a bit of a mixed bag but something to learn from all of them. There was a lot to think about and I’ve typed up my notes to send out to colleagues as there was much to help us frame our thinking as we wrestle with the difficult but exciting task of devising our new KS3 curriculum.

There was that much to do that I managed to catch up with absolutely no-one I follow on Twitter! I reckon I’ll just have to try harder the next time – or even better stay over the night before as there seemed to be lots of meet –ups then!

So, a wonderful day but as it progressed I could feel a sense of melancholy seeping in to my soul. You see, next September I am retiring just when education is so interesting and dynamic, when there is discourse and dialogue and good old verbal fisticuffs, when so many teachers – 300+ giving up a Saturday voluntarily to learn more about their profession – are committed to what they do and the children they teach in the teeth of almost daily slurs and insults from the very people who should be supporting us and making our lives easier. And I will soon be leaving it. I am, I realise, becoming more irrelevant by the day.

On then to the final session. Oh my! It was one of the best things I’ve ever been to in the world of education. The Hywel Roberts and Mick Waters show was truly wonderful. Between them they very cleverly invited us to feel better about ourselves, our profession and what we do. Lazy enemies of promise according to Michael Gove. Could we come up with something better asked Hywel? You bet. Mine were weavers of dreams, couriers of promise, safe harbours in storms. Mick put us back together by telling us how great we were and what is important about what we do. When he spoke of the boy with poor sight who saw a firefly on one of Mick’s trips and still remembered that as an adult the tears started trickling.

And then Orrsome Rachel Orr got to her feet on those teetering heels to sing the aria she wrote specially for the occasion. Silent, fat tears ran down my cheeks as I was overwhelmed by a wave of pride and grief. Pride in this noble profession of ours and the dedication of the vast majority of teachers who work minor miracles in classrooms up and down the country every day. And grief for my loss. I will soon be just an ex-teacher. I won’t be part of it. And I’m not sure my heart will sing again.

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