Educational Leadership and Management: @BELMASOffice – from Twitter-troll to the @HouseOfCommons

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On Tuesday 7th May 2013, as a direct result of a Twitter-troll  – I was invited to The House Of Commons in Westminster.

There are some benefits resulting from an attack of a Twitter-trolls… This is one of them!

As a direct result from a troll in the Winter of 2012; this person took it upon himself to attack my OpenClassroom tool to support a school culture for open door observations and teacher development. His argument was that this was not evidenced based; yet my simple retort was, that I had proof!

The Twitter-troll decided to include @DrMeganCrawford the past Chair of BELMAS, who also works at the University of Cambridge, to be the adjudicator for evidence. Megan never replied and this person berated twitter-messages (to me on a quiet Tuesday evening from 8-10pm) from the comfort of my sofa, and probably his!

Well, Mr. Troll!

You will be pleased to hear, that your tweet led me to be invited to the House of Commons last Tuesday 7th May, as a guest of Dr. Crawford on behalf of BELMAS. A new friendship has formed and I just wanted to say thank-you.

Invitation for @TeacherToolkit
Invitation for @TeacherToolkit

BELMAS:

(British Educational Leadership, Management and Administrative Society) is an educational charity which aims to provide a distinctive, independent and critical voice in the pursuit of quality education through effective leadership and management.

BELMAS website
BELMAS website

Membership is open to anyone interested in research and practice of educational leadership and management, whether they are a working academic or a practitioner in school, college or university.

40th Anniversary programme
40th Anniversary programme

This year, BELMAS are celebrating their 40th anniversary. As a direct result of organising SLTeachMeet for senior teachers, Megan contacted @MrLockyer and I, offering a bursary and the opportunity to take educational practice to the society. This will be in the form of a TeachMeet at the BELMAS annual conference this July, in Edinburgh, Scotland. If you would like to attend, you can download a ticket here.

The House of Parliament:

On arrival and a reasonably fast-track security check, I entered the grounds of the Houses of Parliament.

Security Check

You can walk past this famous landmark and be impressed by the grandiosity every day, but to be inside the grounds makes you just inspired and full of awe! On arrival, I met with Stephen Lockyer for tea and cake in Parliament Cafe! What a refreshing change from school playgrounds.

No sooner had we settled down to catch up, Sir Michael Wilshaw walked past our table. (We later discovered that Michael Gove has sent his apologies for the event!)

Journey to venue…

The slideshow below should be able to describe the journey from the entrance to the Terrace Pavilion (the terrace veranda that is famous for social events facing the River Thames). The photos display the great Westminster Hall; my head(!) Stephen Lockyer and myself and the Central Hall.

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The Terrace Pavilion:

Rt. Honorable Barry Sheerman MP introduced the event and welcomed everyone in the room.

The presentations were between 5-10 minutes each. Each pitched with context on BELMAS past; BELMAS present and future hopes for BELMAS.

The talks were very interesting and highlighted the fundamental role that the BELMAS society plays in steering the vision for education in Britain and across the world! There was a real call for academia versus practitioner-based practice, evidence and collaboration. I cannot emphasise this enough.

What stuck for me, was a speech by Panayiotis Antoniou who is a Greek-Cypriot school leader, representing the international membership. He talked carefully and sensibly and formed a well-reasoned viewpoint. He shared a correlation of BELMAS foundations to a great oak tree. He proposed we question about where we should plant the next tree for BELMAS and where we (hope) to enjoy the shade (the fruits of its growth) for the next 40 years. It was a fabulous analogy which made total sense.

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As classroom teachers, research is useless if it does not make an impact on you or I as a teacher in the classroom. In my mind, I questioned the previous mission of BELMAS to some degree; but with respect, the focus on education has shifted significantly and we should assume that BELMAS have changed and adapted to meet the needs of their members since it’s inauguration in 1973. We have since seen the introduction of the internet and social-media, as well as a huge educational paradigm.

I am 40 years old this year (this is the first time I have put this in writing(!) and stated this publicly) and had not yet heard of BELMAS during their 40 years existence. Despite being a teacher for the past 20+ years and a senior teacher for the past 5 years; I struggle to ascertain any prior connection with BELMAS dating back to the early 1990’s. This is poor… but, thank you once again Mr. Troll!

And this is my stance:

BELMAS must engage classroom practitioners at ALL levels over the coming years and use social-media as a tool for collaboration and promotion. I am fully engaged with BELMAS charity and look forward to my own journey beginning…

If you want to know more about BELMAS, you can do so here. I’m already excited about traveling to Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2014 fr the next conference. You can follow BELMAS on @BelmasOffice and @BELMASConf

Thank you @BELMASOffice for a wonderful day and the start of my BELMAS journey!
Thank you @BELMASOffice for a wonderful day and the start of my BELMAS journey!

@TeacherToolkit

In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of being most influential in the field of education. He remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing resources and ideas online as @TeacherToolkit, he has built this website (c2008) which has been described as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the UK Blog Awards (2018). Read more...

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