Staffrooms

picture of a small coffeeI first read about this back in February in the Guardian, but thought it was just a journalistic way of filling up the print inches and therefore thought no more about it. Then, yesterday’s Sunday Times seemed to imply that the removal of a requirement to provide staff spaces in schools was now a fait accompli.

Not to have somewhere to go and simply ‘chill’, in any occupation, must be dire.  Even now; self employed and working from home, I have places around the house that I can go to for a change of environment.

Teachers especially (remember that teachers do not ‘work with’ their peers, but with completely different age groups), need their ‘break’ space.

Over and above their role as chilling space and change of environment, staff-rooms have other important socio/academic functions; not least the chance they offer what for many are the best opportunities for sharing and collaboration with colleagues.

Without staff-rooms, how would young/new teachers seek informal advice and guidence? How would all appropriate personnel become aware of the recent death in little Johnie’s family? How would practitioner’s ‘cascade’ newly learned techniques and skills?

We throw away these informal, collaborative places at our peril. It has been tried (and failed) before.

Read: The Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid

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Twitter #SugSnip

I’ve recently set myself the challenge of sending a snippet of information to Twitter every day for a year. I started on January 1st (1/1/11) so I suppose it’s a sort of resolution? #SugSnip

The idea of doing this occurred to me back in 2009 and I did in fact make a start at that time. However, due to the pressures of work (I was really busy at that time – unlike now where I don’t know where the next job is coming from) and the fact that I’d not appreciated the groundwork required for such an undertaking, it soon fizzled out. The preparation of checked, reviewed, interesting, useful (to some), possibly thought provoking, pertinent and varied snippets of information within the limitations of a ‘Tweet’ was a challenge I’d initially underestimated.

However, I did think that the idea was a sound one for use in education and that modelling the idea would be a useful way of evaluating its impact.

I’d been speaking with someone about the idea and it occurred to us that the slow drip feed of subject-specific material to learners might help them with their retention of knowledge. Of course, it might not be Twitter that was employed to effect the drip feed as regular posts to a Moodle forum, to a Facebook ‘wall’ or even SMS texts could do the work too. Nevertheless, I decided that I would use Twitter and that I would be governed by its 140-character rule. What’s more, using a hash tag would help with the future tracking of snippets.

I’m still not sure how the #SugSnips will pan out theme-wise: So far [3rd January 2011] I’ve posted three, all of which are food related, so maybe I will try to keep Monday to Friday snips along a related theme with sport snips on Saturdays and religious snips on Sunday. I quite like the idea of random snips too, so remain undecided about how they will unfold. Perhaps if I review progress over coming months, this will have become clearer?

I have about a hundred snips ready and waiting to go right now and will add to them when time and opportunity presents itself. All #SugSnips have been vetted inasmuch as I’ve checked more than one place that such a thing [subject of snip] exists, is true and is verifiable by others. The link I provide (I provide a URL with every snip) is taken at random from amongst the sites I’ve checked. Where space allows (remember I only have 140 characters including spaces), I will post a further URL to add veracity.

So far, I have snips listed under the headings of youth; food; drink; history; entertainment; computer/web 2.0; education; religion and words. These may well re-form as time passes and the boundaries are bound to fade but they help me to keep control of my findings.

Because I have a modest amount of followers on Twitter, I may provoke some response, which may in turn result in some kind of worthwhile outcome. One of the food snips has already caused some discussion, for which I’m grateful.

In the meantime I’m enjoying the research and learning lots of stuff myself – much of it interesting but not yet of much use. But as we often hear: One man’s meat is another man’s poison http://www.answers.com/topic/one-man-s-meat-is-another-man-s-poison