Sat on the top bunk of a sleeper train through Vietnam with 18 hours to look out of the window and write the next instalment of my blog on my travels, I started reflecting on the last two academic years and my increasing engagement with edutwitter and edublogging. I have always said that blogging is my way of putting order to my thoughts and recording my experiences in related to geography and education along the way. When travelling it also acts as my diary and I share it mostly to avoid having to repeat myself ten times when I get home and people ask me what I did! I’ve never set myself targets over how many blogs to write or expectations over what I’d write about. It’s been, and I hope will remain, a completely organic process of me thinking about things I feel are important to me with the hope that someone else might find my thoughts useful or thought provoking to expand their own practice. For me blogging promotes my life-work balance as it’s stops things going round and round in my head if I’ve got a bee in my bonnet. I can also control when and how often I read others’ education blogs and I enjoy seeing what others are thinking about topics I’m interested in. Blogs give the space for people to go into more detail and give examples to illustrate their points and for us to share best (and worst) practice.
But with edutwitter, I’m starting to feel like it’s not helping. I love the fact it gives you another network of people to connect with and get ideas from but in the two weeks before I came away I started to get really worried about the impact all these great ideas would be having on the teachers following. You see Twitter is 24/7. It doesn’t discriminate between work time and weekends or holidays. I know you can open the app when you want to but is a twitter stream of people posting examples of their planning and their latest resources during the summer holiday really promoting our profession and work-life balance and wellbeing for all teachers? We’re on holiday so why are we working? Why are we making resources in our time off? Even after 13 years, and knowing just how important taking a break from work is for my own wellbeing, I struggled with shaking off a feeling of guilt that I wasn’t making resources or planning lessons.
Now this isn’t to be derogatory about those choosing to work in their holidays (I will be when I get back from South East Asia for a few days) but just to question if we are in danger of making something great for sharing and networking into something else to beat ourselves with that we are not working hard enough or to put people off teaching because we give the impression we are always working. I’m also becoming slightly worried that a lot of the things posted are things that are being presented as new ideas when they’re really reincarnations of things we’ve done in the past and that better sharing of resources between new and experienced teachers would have reduced this workload for newer teachers.
So what I really want to say about Twitter and work-life balance is use it for ideas but don’t forget to also use it to ask others if they already have something before you make it from scratch. But, most importantly, don’t let Twitter make you feel guilty for not working because others are and don’t only post about work in the holidays so prospective teachers see it’s not a 24/7 job. We need edutwitter to be the thing that really drives making sure we are all working collaboratively in such a way that reduces our workload and enables us to regain the time we need to be ourselves outside of school and work.