My Twitter Relationship is on the Rocks

When I first started tweeting in 2015 it was done as a shout out to have a voice. There was a lot of frustration. As a head of a small coastal primary, the world of education was happening to me, and I was literally voiceless.

In retrospect I wish I’d given myself a better name, @smithsmm is a rubbish twitter name. I could have been @CoastyHead or @Rantyhead.

 Twitter allowed me to do two things, firstly share my passion for picture books. #PicturebookPage has literally hundreds of books posted on the hashtag. Secondly to have a voice on education, to challenge, discuss and learn from others. It was exciting and clandestine.

There were moments where I would be swarmed on by Dementors, I learnt very quickly to not talk phonics on Twitter mainly because you’d be launched on by secondary Maths’s teachers who’ve taught nobody to read but know how to do it better than anybody else. I remember very early on being attacked for mentioning picture books, this was by some very prominent #edutwitter voices and then their followers, I invited them to come, and I’d explain them to them, I held my own, but the experience left me shaken. I almost walked away at that point. The same people 7 years later still do the same thing, regularly shouting down others and belittling them.

I avoided challenging; I kept my head down. I found some like-minded people; some people were massively supportive. I enjoyed talking with them.

 I started to have confidence in my voice, enthused by this I decided to blog.

Now let’s be clear I’m not a writer, the anxiety of writing stuff and putting it out has often been overwhelming. Every time I write I am swamped by imposter syndrome. However, I persevered. I wrote things and no-one read them and that was OK. Writing was ultimately for me. 

I enjoyed writing, I enjoyed twitter. I got opportunities. I was asked to write some pieces for the TES (never thought that would happen). I presented at Learning First and ended up between Michael Tidd (a twitter superstar) and Dame Alison Peacock. I had some jokes, more importantly I felt like I had a voice. I met some good people.

I rolled with it, I found my tribes, I muted then blocked some of the voices. I got to do more stuff, including a keynote at @PrimaryRocks1 with @ChrisDysonHT.

Twitter was a good place and a nice part of my life. Then March 2020 hit. Twitter was a saviour in the early days of the pandemic, however…

The last two years have led to a life that has been increasingly lived online. I sit back and look at how in some-ways my online life has begun to dominate my real life and I realise I need to “Get Busy Living”

Twitter is for me is no longer a torrid love affair.

This isn’t a goodbye but it is a see you around. A re-balance. More time looking up and less time looking down.


The New Normal…



These are strange times indeed. I’m sure somewhere on my job contract buried in the small print there is a clause that covers the last few weeks, I haven’t found it, however.

It felt like a good time to stop and breathe, in fact this is the first moment I’ve had to stop and breathe. It’s been great to pause today, I’ve listened to a lot of Bruce Springsteen (I’m working my way through all his albums…currently on Live 75-85), I’ve read quite a bit. I’ve sat and thought quite a lot.

I stepped away from twitter today, as there was much that was frustrating me.

In education we have had very little time and guidance to create this new normal, parents have had very little time to adjust to this. First thing I have to say is it’s not the same, it can’t and won’t be the same.

We all have a wealth of new pressures on us, parents, teachers, children, everybody. Fundamentally our roles as schools and educators has changed.

Fact is education isn’t our most important job now. First and foremost, our role is about supporting our families to manage their way through this, helping them create rhythms and patterns, helping them find a home balance about what will happen in their homes for what could be quite some time. We have a key role in helping families find their way through this. We also have a key role in ensuring the children are safe.  We are in a honeymoon period now parents are more likely to engage with us, and there is a first flush of enthusiasm about doing this from many. For some this will last from many others this will diminish. As teachers and school leaders we need to remember that it’s not all about us.


I’ve seen schools trying to run a full timetable, I’ve seen parents stressed, many of whom will have to be working from home while having their children there and children stressed by the demands. I then think of the teachers who may be home with their children and trying to create this plethora of stuff. I’ve seen teachers produce full timetables of internet links to learning videos and saying children must do this (some of these are great however, Joe Wicks has broken me though). I’ve seen demands on teachers to mark and feedback submitted work exponentially increasing their workload. (I now know what exponential means). We need to let go. We can’t control it all.

As time goes on, we need to help families find a healthy balance. In primary, that’s probably a bit of Maths, a bit of writing and some reading every day, (I’d say lots of reading but I’m a bit obsessed) anything more than that and we will create something impossible. We’re planning a more project-based approach for after Easter as way of keeping children motivated and engaged with the work. The key point of the learning is parents spending time and talking with their kids. Cook together, listen to music, draw, do a jigsaw, do some gardening, make the beds etc. Creating home patterns and rhythms is the key bit. We don’t know what will be going on behind those doors, we don’t know the pressures those families are facing, just in the last week I’ve had parents concerned about money, and food and a hundred other things.  One thing we should not be doing is making this harder for families. Equally we should not be creating an impossible job for our staff.

This isn’t school, it can’t be school…there are going to be so many more issues to deal with when the children return into our buildings. Firstly, how do we help these children become used to being with other children again and feeling safe in our care.

People have talked about the “Gap” fact is whether we like it or not the gap between children will grow. I’d love to say it won’t, but the gap will be exacerbated, we have children without internet apart from a data package on Mum or Dad’s phone (Constant video lesson watching probably used that up by Tuesday). We have children, with no tablets or computers at home. The wonders of internet teaching will zoom past these children, how do we make sure we don’t forget about these children.

This weekend is a time to step back breathe and re-evaluate what it is we’re doing and how it helps our families and our communities.


To paraphrase Professor Ian Malcolm “Your teachers were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Anyway back to the book and the Springsteen marathon. Stay Safe