The following article comes from NQT Steve Humphreys, who shares how he has benefited from the EduTwitter community during lockdown.

On Monday 16th of March 2020, my educational journey took a fundamental change. I can still picture it now – sitting in the staff-room listening to the principle of the school asking all teachers and trainees to brace themselves and prepare for total lockdown. I had just begun to take on the majority of my timetabled lessons, 14 hours to be exact, and was rearing to go! For many trainees, this would be the beginning of the hardest part of their training but also the most fulfilling, as you begin to take on more responsibility while also knowing that the end is in sight…this didn’t happen for me.

Travelling a good three months into the future and I am now currently sat here, reflecting on what happened before, and whilst lockdown materialised in schools around England.

It was worrying to think about how I could handle the pressure of taking on an NQT timetable in September. I didn’t feel ready for that challenge and I knew that I needed much more experience in learning critical pedagogy; practised by knowledgeable teachers within the classroom.

However, after finding the hidden world of Edutwitter, I decided to embark on a journey of self-reflection of my current teaching methodology, while gaining expertise in the field from those with a vast amount of experience from their respective years of teaching. It was a hidden gem; a tool that brought educators together to share resources and speak about educational matters within the community.

A tool that brought educators together to share resources and speak about educational matters within the community.

(Edutwitter is a powerful tool! If you are a trainee or an NQT I urge you to create a twitter account and become a part of the family.)

Invaluable CPD Opportunities

With COVID-19 holding a strong grasp over the educational network, the community began to come together and begin to create various online Zoom CPD sessions. These were a lifeline for someone like me who needed to brush up on his knowledge from other experts in their subject fields. As I teach English, I knew that it was important to keep on top of the current pedagogical trends that were circulating Twitter. English is a core subject and is a subject that not only holds weight within the school but will follow students when they leave and enter the world of employment. I wanted to engage with other educators and build on my knowledge to enable me to be the best teacher I can be…and so I did.

This is the part where I begin to shout out all those who provided vital CPD sessions that produced some fantastic debates and filled my folders for years to come. My first shout out goes to @litdriveuk who not only managed to grasp a hold of some of the most influential English teachers on the network but recorded the sessions for people to engage with at any time, day or night.

My second and final shout out goes to @SenecaLearn as they produced what I can only describe as a mammoth CPD English seminar (3 HOURS) with the likes of: @fod3 (Freya Odell) who focused on reading culture and how you can change the lives of your pupils through cultured reading (Viva Italia), @patricemiller_ who provided instruction on impact and modelling in the classroom, @mr_englishteach (Mark Roberts) who with a suave and sophisticated voice tantalised us with tasters from his recent study guide ‘You can’t revise for GCSE English’, @msybibi (Yamina Bibi) who presented us with how Socratic debate can really build the confidence of pupils and engage them successfully within the classroom.

Finally, the seminar finished on the amazing @funkypedagogy (Jennifer Webb) who delved deep into the realms of teaching texts and explored different methodologies on how to engage pupils to think like writers and criticise like writers. There were many others who produced some fantastic CPD sessions on key texts within the curriculum as well as those who focused on specific school agendas and pastoral methods…there are just too many good ones to name.

All in all, if it wasn’t for the time and effort put in by these fabulous educators then I would have been sat here, biting my nails and terrified to begin in September. I want to thank all of you and to let you know that you have boosted the confidence of this little COVID-19 NQT.

Author

Steve Humphreys

Steve is a newly qualified English teacher at Bideford College. North Devon University of Sussex PGCE in English and Media29.

Steve lived in Madrid, Spain for 3 years before training as a teacher.

Follow Steve on Twitter – @UKHumphreys