This is not a grand exit. It’s not even an au revoir. There are few things more irritating than a public exit followed by a swift return. This is more of a ‘see you around, maybe’.
In the latter part of 2017 I reflected on my twitter existence and my blog. As I stopped myself from almost passing out with nausea at the pretentious reality that I was ‘reflecting on my twitter existence and my blog’ I quickly concluded that, as far as social media was concerned, I am pretty much spent.
I don’t think I have anything left to say that would be of any interest to anyone. And, for the benefit of any cynics, if nothing I’ve previously said has ever been of interest to anyone else, I have at least run out of things to say that interest me.
I can pinpoint my current state of ‘meh’ to two key factors: I have just started a new school, and, I don’t think anything that happens online, on my timeline anyway, actually matters.
In terms of blogging, when I started, I used it to chart my experiences as a new headteacher. Over the years, writing blog posts have enabled me to clarify my thoughts on educational issues that I have had to wrestle with. In doing so, I credit blogging with forcing me to be the headteacher that I wanted to be. So often, I would write something over the weekend that would influence my behaviour, or decision making, on Monday. By putting my principles ‘out there’ I felt forced to see them through. It was a way holding myself to account.
So what am I saying? That I have made it and no longer need such reflections in order to be a good headteacher? Not exactly, although I am very happy with the Professional that I am today. It’s true, that with a new headship comes a whole bunch of new challenges as well as a raft of familiar ones. But, at present, I either don’t feel the compulsion to blog about them, or, I find that I already have.
There are still times when something happens in the world of education where I think ‘ooh, I could blog about that’. The trouble is, the online world revolves so quickly, by the time I’ve fired up the laptop, my timeline is already over-saturated with everyone else’s’ take on the issue. To the extent where I end up thinking that what the world doesn’t need right now is yet another blog about Toby Young’s tit-tweets.
Which brings me to my reason for my potential Twitter abstention. Nothing what I have to say matters. So little of what any of the voices say on Twitter matter. Never has so much energy been exerted into such a large vacuum. Not to sound too gloomy, but, Twitter is pointless. It hasn’t changed anything. People will tell you that Twitter has influenced Ofsted, education policy, senior leadership, teachers’ work-life balance, marking policies, uses of assessment, behaviour management, what to do during wet play. And I’m here to say: no it hasn’t. It really hasn’t.
Edu-twitter is not a force to be reckoned with. It’s an echo chamber that, if you stand in the middle of it, deafens you with all its souped-up controversy, grandiose grand-standing, occasional good ideas and relentless gifs. As soon as you step away you realise none of it matters. Hardly anyone I know (in the real world) is on Twitter for educational reasons. Most of the leaders and teachers that I meet are too busy getting on with the day job to care what is in vogue on Twitter – thank goodness! I mean, anyone who has bemoaned pointless staff meeting and insets should thank their lucky stars that Twitter isn’t real. The pace at which Twitter-Trends zoom in, get slammed and reverse twice as fast to where they came from, if leaders were taking their cues from Twitter, we’d never get anything done!
Plus, at the moment, Twitter seems less about networking or sharing good ideas. It’s seems to be more about being vile to each other. By vile, I mean: petty, loud and repetitive. And, I’m not subtly having a pop at anyone here…most of us are at it. You can’t scroll for two minutes without someone slamming someone else’s thoughts or actions in a, mostly, negative and personalised manner. In Twitter-land another school’s context is of no importance if it means we can be publicly shocked by something they’ve done.
So, what am I going to do?
Well, I’m probably not going to leave. I can’t be bothered to go cold turkey because eventually I know I’ll come back. But, in the same way that I have never sworn on Twitter* (unlike Toby Young, I actually give a Friar Tuck about what a future employer might find) I am going to temper my approach to criticism. If I see something that I disagree with, or think is daft/dangerous/dim, rather than quote it along with any personal disparaging remarks, I will simply respond with something along the lines of: ‘Well, I ain’t never worked in no school where that has been needed, but I guess folks gots their reasons.’ I might even say what has worked in the context of my experiences just to, you know, put it out there. Not to be patronising but in the spirit of professional curiosity. At least then Twitter is opened up to professional dialogue rather than a series of conflicting diatribes complemented by faux-outrage and screenshots.
So, that’s me in 2018. I might see you around, but then again, I might not.
*go on, tuppence for the person who scrolls through all my tweets and screenshots one where I sound like a docker whose just stubbed their toe.