Saturday, 29 December 2012


I think I chose this blog title because metamorphosis is what the education system is currently going through.  It refers back to an analogy I used in my very first, rather ropey, blog post about my interaction with Twitter as a teacher.  This is where I likened my initial interaction with Twitter to a caterpillar, which then metamorphosed into a butterfly once I waded into a #UKedchat.  

My dear friend and Twitter buddy @kevbartle articulates the beauty of Twitter here. He does it so well that I dare not repeat the exercise in this post.  Recently, there have been a few posts discussing what the current Crucible- like Ofsted regime is doing to schools and teachers.  One of the best is by @headguruteacher, which you can find here and another equally marvellous one by @Edutronic_Net does here. (Get me being all clever adding hyperlinks to my blog.)  This is how I came to the idea of metamorphosis.

What on earth am I wittering on about?

When you teach, you are institutionalised and this happens relatively quickly, often without you noticing.  This can only become apparent when you change schools for a new job and it feels like the world has shifted on its axis.  You are faced with many unknown unknowns (I've pinched that from an American politician I'm sure) which become known unknowns, and with some hard graft then become known knowns. (#ironyklaxon) and lo, the process of institutionalisation is complete: we are cocooned. Cocooned to the extent we can forget what has gone before, and more worryingly, not consider what might be.

To the potentially mangled metaphor.  

We are all, either happily or unhappily, ensconced in our own cocoons (classrooms),  taking the required nutrients from our host plant (school) but often we are too afraid to complete the metamorphosis into our desired butterfly (or in some cases, mentioning no names, moths) of the teacher we really WANT to be and have the POTENTIAL to be.  At the moment, the cocoon offers refuge from a storm we could not predict and from forces that seem too powerful for us to fight against; although we would just LOVE to be given the room to unfurl our wings and admire the pattern we and nature have created. 

Twitter can provide us with the nutrients for us to complete our metamorphosis; to create the pattern on our newly created wings; have the courage to break the seal of the cocoon and majestically unfurl our delicate wings and fly amongst a supportive rabble of butterflies. I Googled 'Collective nouns for butterflies': I could have had 'swarm' or 'rabble'. Rabble was the superior collective noun by far, given the people that I normally Tweet with. 

Teach Meets provide even further nutrition, and get this, we can flit to other plants, and use our proboscis to try out and taste different nectar. OK, in some cases, we may spit it out like a cheap bottle of plonk, but at least we got to taste it. 

Last night, on Twitter an extension of Teach Meets was bandied about between myself (@Gwenelope); @Edutronic_Net, @Ieshasmall, @kevbartle, @hgaldinoshea and @Benniekara about a 'classroom crawl'. Now, the 'day' part of this teacher interchange will not involve pub based CPD, however, if we plan things well enough, the evening period may well do.   The 'classroom crawl' involves travelling about to spend a day or an afternoon in each other's schools, to drink a little more deeply from this pedagogical nectar; to leave our cocoons well and truly behind and learn how other plants feed teaching and learning; how they enable their butterflies (teachers and pupils) to unfurl their wings and flit with confidence.

This Tweacher needs you! 

This directly relates to my new Performance Management targets.  The most crucial of these targets being the developing of Teaching and Learning in my department in the following ways:

1. Set up a department blog to share good practice; encourage collaboration; and offer peer critique and help that is 'kind, specific, helpful' (Think that's a @Totallywired77 -ism, *correction that is a Ron Berger-ism, thanks Tait!).
2. To undertake developmental lesson observations  (not judgemental) of the department and other teachers in our school to firstly, recognise what we ARE good at, and then use these observations to steer our teaching and learning needs.
3. Continue to use Twitter for my own CPD purposes then to share what I find and use with the department.
4. Share the best of pedagogical blogs with the department so as to encourage risk taking (and then record and reflect on our own blog). 
5. To attend Teach Meets and share the ideas gleaned from them with the department (maybe even present one day!).
6. To visit schools that are Good or Outstanding and find out why this is so; and work out how we can be 'Even Better If'. (Thanks to that Twitter conversation last night, well on its way. If you can offer me a 'placement' for a visit, please let me know via commenting on my blog or Tweeting.)

The power of a rabble of butterflies - unfurl the wings.

Having read my aims, I'd very much like your input and advice about how best to achieve these; record the outcomes and flag up any pit falls that I really ought to be aware of.  If you can and want to help, please leave a comment on the blog rather than Twitter, so that I can dip into your great ideas, when necessary. 

Who'd a thunk it? Twitter, blogging, Teach Meets and 'classroom crawls' as part of Performance Management. THAT would not have happened when I started teaching 10 years ago. THAT is PROGRESS Mr. Gove. Stick that in your education pipe and choke, I mean smoke it, Goveanasaurus-Rex. 

Let us continue breaking out of our cocoons and using Twitter, Teach Meets and 'classroom crawls' so that we avoid being the bloody annoying moth that is drawn to the one big luminescence that they think is the saviour of teaching, and instead be a rabble of curious butterflies.  

As ever, thank you for reading, and any comments, advice and help you will offer in response to this post and the marvellous @Xris32 for his editing prowess. 

A rabble of butterflies in action - agents of our own metamorphosis

I published and Tweeted this blog yesterday and as a result was awash with Tweets inviting me to visit various schools - number 6 on my Teaching and Learning Performance Management summary. So, for my own records and for you, reader to view the butterfly rabble in action, here are those Tweets:

I can't find the Tweets but the loveliness that is: @Ieshasmall and @kevbartle have also invited me down to Canons High - at least I hope they have and that's not a figment of my overactive imagination. 

  Vindication often most important part English dept at my school v good and would love to host you HoD my friend (Birmingham)

  wow gwen, mega stuff there. Would love to be I the loop will have to speak to  to see if we can help. (Devon)

 That's true. Let's not rule it out : ) I'd love to have you visit us. 

 Gwen, great blog! You are more than welcome to come and visit little old me!  (N. London)

 If you ever want a tartan perspective, you're verra welcome :)  

 loved reading this! Agreed with your points wholeheartedly! If Cardiff is closer come visit!

  mines a 6th form but you're welcome

 Lovely blog and you'd be welcome to visit us any time you fancy an Island holiday :-)
  I'll second that ;-)

Great post  and would be delighted if you could make it over to sunny Herts for a visit - can get you into some great depts

 Ooh love your butterfly blog! If you fancy a primary visit come this way! (Bristol) 

 Been tracking back the thread from the blog. Happy for you to visit us-pupil referral unit in Bristol 

A lovely Tweet re. my point 1 on performance management - collaborative metamorphosis! 

 Great blog! Need the optimism. I've an idea for an online collaborative blog. Will share early new year if interested.

Plus the wonderful @Edutronic_Net has offered his wealth of expertise - and he really does know far more about educational blogging than I.

@HuntingEnglish has Tweeted these words of widom re. a depaprtment blog:

 the initial hurdle is the issue. Get someone receptive & get them doing one & cheer leading! Seeing the audience of the posts is a great spur. Also, finding some time for people to do it is essential early on. Could there training time/dept meeting slot? it is the 'extra work' resistance which is the stopper. People need to see the value: reflection; shared knowledge; audience &  (well that's most of the Tweets I favourited!)

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