#Teacher5aDay: We Are In This Together!

Ritesh Patel

Ritesh Patel is currently subject lead for DT and SLE at an outstanding Secondary school in North London. Passionate about driving collaboration, Ritesh has led large-scale TeachMeets for the past three years, and is a key member of the #Teacher5aDay community. He is the founder of See It Together.

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Website: www.seeittogether.co.uk Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Image courtesy of author. Image courtesy of author.

A few years ago, I began to use Twitter to develop my pedagogy. Looking back, I believe it was one of most significant decisions I have made as an educator. We should not feel confined in our classrooms or institutes. Once I started using Twitter, it proved to be a big game-changer.

There are many facets of the platform I can discuss, but here I would like to focus on #Teacher5aDay, a Twitter-based movement focusing on teacher wellbeing, getting educators to take part in activities and challenges for enjoyment and development. The man behind this is incredible school leader Martyn Reah. He has driven the initiative of teacher wellbeing to new heights, and is inspiring so many.

Let’s go back to November 2004. In my final year at university I was struggling with a term known as ‘designer’s block’. My mind was all over the place, and just wasn’t functioning creatively. That week, I took a gamble and spent a lot of money. I bought a digital camera. It proved to be the best purchase of my life. I ran wild with my new “best friend”. I captured images that formed my final dissertation, which was on architectural photography. I felt like a new person full of energy. From that moment, my obsession with taking a photograph became rooted in my DNA.

Some 17 years later, Martyn kindly asked me to host a month of #Teacher5aDay #Photo. He identified my passion for photography, as I would post and share frequently on Twitter. A photo can be understood in many ways: it can create a memory, inspire an individual, raise awareness and tell a story.

I always attempt to keep it positive. It’s pretty fair to say that the majority of us have a camera on our phones, and taking a photo in a few seconds is of the norm in this day and age. I had previously taken part in two #Teacher5aDay challenges: #21daysJuly by Bukky Yusuf, a fantastic challenge to round off an academic year, and #Sketch by Jenna Lucas, which takes place during half term breaks and gets you creative with a pencil! Both challenges inspired me to create my model for the November 2016 photo challenge.

#Teacher5aDay #Photo had teachers taking snapshots for daily themes such as ‘Mug you are drinking from’, ‘Dressed up for Children In Need’ and ‘Selfie with a friend’. The first day was really successful and saw a high number of tweets posted. It was evident from the start that this would be engaging month of sharing. For me, this month really did add a sense of community amongst educators on Twitter. Every day there would be a challenge - a challenge most looked forward to! Whether it was at the start of the day or at the end, posts were met with appreciation. Positive links were created between teachers. Tim Smith, headteacher at The Magna Carta School in Middlesex, said: “The month built even more camaraderie between teachers across the country.”

I felt pleased with the positive impact of the month, as well as the many #teacher5aday adventures we’ve had since. We are in a profession where workload can be challenging, and can at times lose sight of all the positive things that are around us. #Teacher5aDay, for me, brings us together. It enables us to explore and share our passions and experiences fruitfully. In March 2017 I hosted #Teacher5aday #MemoryMarch, which proved again to be a huge success. What is your passion? My advice to you would be to share. Be proud and don’t lose yourself in a negative battle.

[This is an abridged version of Ritesh Patel’s contribution to the Innovate My School Guide 2017/18. You can read the entire piece, and the rest of the publication, at www.innovatemyschool.com/guides.]

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