The Importance of Evangelism – Notes on the first Touchpaper party

19th January 2014

This is just a quick note/call to arms, rather than a blog and comes out of a post-Touchpaper-pub chat yesterday: Katherine Richardson and I were talking about how much more interesting the day was compared to traditional CPD sessions and decided it was time to get evangelical.

During the Touchpaper party we worked on questions that mattered to and interested us with people we liked & respected and shared our experience and knowledge of research to come up with useful approaches to classroom issues. Chatting to Katherine, I contrasted this with my experience of teaching: in my school, teaching/pedagogy was not something you ever talked about (apart from comparing notes on pupils’ behaviour). It wasn’t that I didn’t want to or that anyone stopped me, I just didn’t realise it was something you might talk about. Similarly I didn’t read books about teaching because I didn’t realise they had anything to offer. There was no-one saying “I read this, it was great, what do you think?” So I just got on with it, working it out as I went along and doing my best to improve. I was told I was ‘Outstanding’ so that was that, I didn’t particularly see a problem.

How fantastic then that so many teachers came along yesterday, giving up their day to engage in high level, in-depth discussions that brought out some real wisdom. How fantastic too that so many people read and write about teaching in blogs and on Twitter every day, but these (and you as a reader of this post) are inevitably the most engaged. There are swathes more who are less engaged and who would become better teachers and get more job satisfaction if they were part of the conversation.

Somehow we need to get others to realise what they’re missing out on and make them want to join in. The risk is that we spend our time talking to others in the ‘bubble of the engaged’, but if we want to encourage others to join in we need to become unapologetically evangelical about how great this community is. It’s not particularly easy- until they see it, lots of people think Twitter is somewhere people talk about what they had for lunch, associate anything related to CPD with boring after school sessions in assembly halls and think all research is entirely disconnected from the reality of the classroom.

It’s only by continuously shouting about our experiences that go against these views that we can bring in the new converts – so go forth and spread the word!