How social media can attract a global audience to inspire your students

Jon Tait

Jon is a senior leader and deputy headteacher working in a large north-east secondary school. He has experience working in three different schools over 15 years. He’s very interested in creative and innovative teaching practices which engage students and ultimately raise achievement.


Jon regularly presents at TeachMeets and teaching conferences both in the UK and internationally via Skype. This has included presentations to conferences in Manhattan, Ohio and Dubai. He was selected to carry the Olympic Torch at the London 2012 Olympics. Jon has spoken to schools throughout the USA, as well as Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and France.

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Teachers can only offer a certain amount of motivation to students, particularly as they are usually the final destination of class and home work. With technology gaining ground in classrooms, however, there is no excuse not to enthuse students with the potential for their work to be shared with the very people that are inspiring their work - authors, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs etc. This is where the benefits of using social media in education really come into play.

After reading 'An Ethic of Excellence' by Ron Berger I was inspired to try and use his core principles to make a difference in my own school.

One of the core principles that struck me from Berger's work was his strong belief that 'to truly engage learners, there needs to be a real audience for their work'. This really rang true for me and took me back to a comment that Julia Skinner made about her fantastic work with the 100 word challenge. During a TeachMeet presentation, Julia asked us all 'how an audience of one person (us, the teacher), can be that motivating'?

If the work always stays on our desk and never goes any further, we are only just scratching the surface in terms of student motivation to do their best. Julia continues to organise a weekly 100 word challenge to engage students in writing, knowing that they'll receive 'real comments' from 'real people' through the power of blogging – hence the increased motivation coming from having a real audience.

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