Making Connections…it’s Not Just a North Eastern Thing


“Sir…You know when you taught us in Year 6, you used to always go on about connections? You used to keep going on about how one lesson links to another…and one subject links to another…and one person links to another. Well, now I get it.”


These were the words of a Learner I once taught and recently met. These words keep resonating wherever I go, whether or not via work with Evolve SI or more recently with Tagtiv8.


Life really is all about making the connections.


Recently, I attended the EICE Conference, Manchester, where I was entertained yet again by the inimitable Tim Rylands, a man who regularly induces ‘genuine wobbly chin moments’ in me.


Towards the end of the event’s first day, I picked up the distinctive tones of a fellow North-Easterner. Following the trail of ‘whey ayes’, I introduced myself to Animate2Educate

Our conversations naturally featured the plight of ‘wor team’, Newcastle United, but then it transpired that A2E used to teach at the same school in South Shields that I attended as a child. I hasten to add that we were not there at the same time. Not only did we share schools, but A2E also used to live on the same street as my cousins in Felling.


As I said, “it’s all about connections”.


I need to point out that our conversations were not purely nostalgic, as is the wont of many meetings between folk from the North East. A2E told me about the planning for his event, ‘Bringing Primary Computing to Life’, featuring the aforementioned Tim Rylands as key-note speaker.

Summer Conference Flier (1)

I highly recommend the event, as it promises to offer that perfect blend of innovation and entertainment.

In exchange, I signposted A2E to Camp Ed 14, where the links and connections, both new and old, amongst young and not so young, will once again be made. To those of you who enjoy the occasional Teach Meet and want to participate in grassroots CPD at its’ very best, click here.


As the Year 6 Learner realised, “it’s all about connections”.


Later in the evening, A2E and I enjoyed a meal in the company of Oliver Quinlan*, who once again shared his wisdom regarding education training and research, highlighting the innovative work of both the EEF and NESTA.  Oliver talked about the research by Tom Doust, whose recent work with Clore Social Leadership, ‘Flight: Teacher Networks in the Sharing Economy‘ highlights trends, both positive and negative, in the roles of social media in CPD.


I read with interest Tom’s findings on Teach Meets, and agree we need to encourage more educators, not just the Twitterati, to use this platform and other forms of social media to not only ‘spread the love’, but also to stir emotions, create debate and bring about change, where needed and desired.


When I was teaching in Year 6, the Learner and I would never have recognized the role or influence of social media in the statement, “it’s all about connections”. However, Twitter has ensured that those connections and links have been made and continue to widen and grow, both professionally and personally.


Since my meeting with A2E, two subsequent Tweet Ups have involved quality conversations with fellow North Easterners, one involving one of the cheapest curries ever, with NightZooKeeper, Paul Hutson in Bradford.  The other involved Steve Bunce, who cast aside his image as ‘the second nicest man in ICT’ in order to show off his mercurial footwork as we played football at the NEC in Birmingham. Match Report to follow, Des? But therein lies another connection…

*For details of Oliver’s highly recommended book, ‘The Thinking Teacher‘, click here.

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