From the Teacher's Desk

Leonard Quilty
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Twitter education

About three months ago I created a Twitter account on the recommendation of a fellow educator. From a professional development perspective, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made as a teacher.

If you’re familiar with this communication tool, you’ll know when you sign up on Twitter you can decide to ‘follow’ whomever you choose. Then, at any given point throughout the day, there will be a regular stream of postings (not exceeding the 140 character limit of course) from the people on your list.

While I’m only following about a dozen people at present – many of those teachers like myself; the information sharing from just a few of them is definitely worth the investment of time I spend checking my account. That time allotment usually runs between 20-30 minutes per day.

Less than a week ago I was skimming through the most recent tweets and came across an interesting piece of information. One of the teachers I’m following (on the recommendation of the person who convinced me to sign up) had sent a tweet containing a link to a website that included a captivating ‘wordle’.

(If you may be wondering, the Macmillan dictionary defines a ‘wordle’ as a piece of text that has been rearranged into a visual pattern of words – a word cloud).

The title of this wordle is ‘Books Everyone Should Read’. The word cloud, revealing 100 novels in total, includes an impressive list of award winning books from Harper Lee’s classic opus, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ to J.R. Tolkien’s epic trilogy, ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

A few days ago I read another tweet from a teacher in Ottawa who posted a link to her blog, along with a message that included the title ‘This Educator’s Bucket List’. Intrigued by that title, I went to her blog link and read her bucket list.

It goes like this: ‘Why not create a learning community where each and every student, staff member and parent discovers their passion and shares it with confidence’.

What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality. – Plutarch – Plutarch

Now that’s something to think about.

After seeing the wordle about books everyone should read, I thought about the educator’s bucket list and began wondering. What if most, if not all, the members of the above mentioned learning community took it upon themselves to read all 100 novels?

Imagine the tight knit learning community that would create.

As for finding their passion and sharing it with confidence, wouldn’t that be a natural by-product seeping from the wisdom gained from such a scholarly pursuit?

While a book I read recently didn’t make the list of 100 – ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ is a book that comes to mind when I consider the power of reading great literature. This engaging literary work by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is an interesting collection of letters written to the main character of the book by the residents of Guernsey (one of the Channel Islands) during the time of the German occupation of WWII.

The society mentioned in the book’s title was a way for the islanders to meet covertly, and share individual accounts of books they had read and learned from. Even though these men and women were oppressed by the conditions imposed by their captors, they managed to elevate their minds and hearts through a love for the written word.

On the topic of reading, Aldous Huxley sums it up very well: “Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting.”

Organizations: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Geographic location: Ottawa, Guernsey, Channel Islands WWII

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