Summer Charlesworth

Friday, at last. It is the weekend and this is an unusual weekend down here in NSW. We have a public holiday this Monday. It is the Queen’s Birthday public holiday. Her actual date of birth is the 21st April. There is a history behind this public holiday. Three days holiday. Not bad.

Finished all the term reports today. I stayed back after school until I had completed the final report. Did not wish to bring the reports home. Next week they will be checked by a colleague and then passed on to my head of department. It is an interesting time. I sometimes wonder what actually happens to all these reports when they go home.

Now, it is also that special time of the week. The Friday Follow Twitter Interview this week is coming to you from Sydney, NSW, about 80km north of where I am typing this introduction. Our special guest this week is Summer Charlesworth, a teacher dedicated to her art and her profession. Summer has embraced the networks to share her vision and skills with educators worldwide. Let’s learn more about Summer and her views regarding social media and education…

1. Please share a little about yourself with the readers.

I am on fire with inspiration at the moment! I am passionate about so many things to do with my job, from the dynamic nature of my subject discipline; Geography, to shaping Middle Schooling and inspiring Middle Schoolers and a new openness to social media and technology in schools. I’m currently Year 9 Coordinator at Ravenswood School for Girls, a progressive independent school in Sydney, Australia. I am near completion of a Master of Geographical Education from Macquarie University, the one and only person to ever take on (and all going to plan) graduate from. They have since pulled the plug on the degree stream. I have also recently taken a role on the MYSA (Middle Years of Schooling Association) Management. Apart from the love of my work, I have a wonderful support network in my husband and two beautiful mini Dachshunds; Hammond and Tiffany. I’m also a shoe fiend!

2. Describe the role played by social media in education.

I think social media is the enabler of education, for both students and teachers. I believe that we all need an audience, and platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Skype, you name it, provide this. It also makes the learning much more about a process than a product. Social media places the learning in the hands of who it should be; the learner. Furthermore, social media, the key being Twitter is vital for educators to stay connected, share ideas and ultimately enhance outcomes and experiences for students.

3. Tell me about your relationship with social media. How do you feel about social media?

I Tweet, maybe more than I should! I look at social media as a fascinating account of the ebbs and flows of society, and a really exciting and vital legacy of events, thoughts and ideas. A great example is back-channelling at conferences. There is such a buzz about people being in one physical space, and all providing their account or experience about what is going on. It’s very metacognitive, and it ignites your brain! Good conversations continue as a result, and I really believe these cyber connections inform and promote real human connections. I also believe it is critical for everyone to have a positive online presence. I share a mix of my thoughts, research, resources and inspiration through my blog, A View from the Middle ( My most recent posts are titled ‘Cel-edu-ties’, documenting my encounters with great minds such as Alan November, Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Howard Gardner!

4. What do you feel are you strengths?

Building the capacity of others is something I really take pride in. The ability to communicate with a range of people is something I enjoy and I think it is so important in education to be able to do so. I’m pretty good at having my hand in many projects at once!

5. What advice do you like to share with people?

You are enough. Simple ideas about how we all have immense capacity. This is really important for our young people to believe. My hope for my middle schoolers in particular is that they believe in themselves as much as I believe in them. I was also presenting a workshop on inspiring 21st Century learners recently, and I asked my fellow colleagues to remember that what they do matters, particularly in light of so much discussion around digital literacies and online learning. Inspired by the IUCN’s recent re-branding of biodiversity, I look to share messages of Love, not loss. Messages of deficit and doom are not inspiring!

6. Are there any questions you would like to ask?

I love asking middle schoolers to respond to their own enduring questions, so maybe you could also have a think about them in a range of contexts; What’s the point? Who cares? Am I heard? What if?…

Thank you Summer! It is indeed true that social media is a barometer that reveals the ebb and flow of society and a vehicle for allowing students to focus on the learning and not the tool. Ah, the questions… What if? Yes, a question I like to always drop into the equation of experience.

Readers, please remember to follow Summer via her Twitter feed and to subscribe to her blog, A View From The Middle.

Summer on Twitter: @EduSum
Summer’s blog: A View From The Middle