Jules and I are TechnoTeachers. We know we don’t know it all – not by a long shot. We have some expertise, but there’s so much to know! So, we’re writing to you not as THE experts (the biggest learner in the classroom blah-de-blah… ) but we did manage to write a book, and get it published by Harvard, using email and Skype alone. Yes, we are a little pleased about that and are slightly relieved that the hard work is now starting to pay off—with readers like you. So, where was I? Yes. A whole book AND we have not met. I think some of my colleagues think that we must have met before. Not true. We still haven’t met in the flesh, just in cyberspace. I have no idea what Jules’ legs look like… I’ll explain more in a minute. Here is the story behind us.
We met on LinkedIn, on a media education thread. At the time, I was the Editor for Edusites blogs and was dreaming up design and content for FilmEdu (a site for teachers of film). I was looking for PR and partnership links for the sites. I did this very quietly (in our rather modest guest room/ home office/ ‘chuck it in and close the door’ room) as my year-old son napped. Jules was working on children’s digital media for various companies, and looking for an adventure—turning her sights toward Europe. I wrote a short bio to introduce myself to the web, as I had not used LinkedIn before and thought it might help. Jules responded. She thought I might be a kindred spirit across the Atlantic. She contacted me, asking if I might like to Skype. Should we co-author a few blog posts? Or an article? What the heck—why not go all out and write a book?
No. That’s not all.
Things were not THAT easy – in truth, the hardest thing was the rewrites and working out exactly the theory behind our joint approaches and attitudes towards helping teachers.
Another hard thing was working out what to wear for that first Skype. I was so nervous. Being a teacher on maternity leave, I had no idea about consultancy or how to make links. However, it turned out that Jules was only a few steps in front of me, and she too was wondering what to wear on her top half for that first web conference. I think she wasn’t as worried about yoghurt and banana stains, and clothes not quite fitting anymore somehow though! Jules says: “It was my first Skype. I was convinced that our Skype connection would keep dropping out, completely ruining any rapport we were trying to build. Or that my cat, Cleopatra, would walk across the keyboard, as is her custom, and stick her tail in Nic’s face. Cleo gets a bit jealous, you see.”
We each took a deep breath and logged on. We chatted about schools, teachers, education in our relevant countries and frustrations. We talked about edTech and budgets. We talked about our experience in working with schools and teachers. We got on. Well. Really well. We both knew this was the start of something special, so we arranged another date.
After a few conversations, we thought we should do something together – and writing seemed our common form of communication. Jules has written a wealth of books, articles and guides for teachers. I have a background in editorials, and have also had a range of articles and books published. But what could we do? Jules’ studies as a student, and then instructor at Harvard, meant she knew about the Harvard Newsletter – and although it was a tough starting point – we wondered if we might be able to pen an article for it.
Back in the UK, although I had been a student at Royal Holloway (University of London), and been employed as an examiner and moderator for OCR (Oxford, Cambridge, and RSA), HARVARD is a still a big name. Jules arranged a meeting with an editor she knew, Nancy Walser, to see if she was interested. She was. But Nancy was also looking for an author for a new book about technology. Authors were skittsh about committing to a book, as technology was moving so fast. Nancy needed someone who would be able to look ahead. She thought we could do it.
And did we? Could we? The real test of this will be when people like you are able to read it – so I will leave this up for discussion. Instead, let me use the medium of blogging to fast-forward to today. Jules is once again working in a school, still writing books (including ‘My Very First I Can Read Books’ coming out on June 26, 2014) and being asked to speak in places like Beijing. I am working across regions in the UK as a school improvement coach and writing for various sites including innovatemyschool.com).
However, we feel our work as TechnoTeachers is far from finished. It’s just starting in fact! The book will be published in May and we are hoping that more teachers will join us as TechnoTeachers. We want to help you so please be our pen pals. We want to hear from you! If you have a concern or a dilemma, please add a post here or contact us on our FB or Twitter page. We are waiting to meet you too - no dress code.
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This is where Jules and Nic will post articles, links to interesting sites and things that we think our TechnoTeachers will like.