Matthew Esterman

Friday has arrived and what a week it has been. On a typically human note I must begin with the weather. The weather in NSW this week has been unseasonably warm. Bright sunny days in excess of 20 degrees celsius in the middle of winter. The cold weather is due for a return tomorrow. This is not good.

My Year 12 Ancient History class completed a three hour examination paper today and I will start marking that on Monday. I understand the the NSW government is going to scrap the NSW School Certificate examination for Year 10 students. About time. It has been irrelevant for such a long time now. I believe that the New South Wales Higher School Certificate examination should be scrapped too. Down the drain. Allow teachers and students to focus on real teaching and learning and none of the unwritten “teaching to the exam” directives that is drilled into us from those on high from one year to the next. Let the employers and universities devise their own specific entrance based or qualification examinations. Let schools be schools. Places of discovery, enlightenment and learning. Not examination based sausage factories.

I rave on. Now, it is indeed Friday and time for this week’s Friday Follow Twitter Interview. Last week I put out the call for any interested party to be a part of this week’s interview and Matthew Esterman raised his hand and volunteered for the job. Matthew is new to my Twitter PLN and like myself he is blending the humanities with technology. I am hoping you will adopt Matthew and incorporate him into your own personal learning network. Let’s give Matthew the chair and explore his ideas on social media and education technology…

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

I am currently teaching students in History and English at Brigidine College, St Ives. I’ve completed a Master’s degree in Learning Science and Technology at the University of Sydney and also a Master of Arts degree in history through Macquarie University. I have a passion for history and a passion for learning which I hope that I show to my students in order to boost their own engagement. I consider school to be only a part of the learning experience of students and that schools must do everything they can to make learning relevant, authentic and meaningful to the world outside the school gates. I consider technology a tool that relies on the creativity, knowledge and skills of educators to make work in the classroom.

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

Social media has enabled teachers to connect, share ideas and inspired each other to grow as professionals. It challenges teachers to engage with a world of potentials and possibilities and test their professional judgement and ability to decide which avenues of connection and collaboration to pursue. Social media connects classroom teachers with experts, students, parents and leaders in whatever field they choose to search. The key is that teachers need to feel confident that they can tame the lion to perform the tricks they want. Teachers need to use their pedagogical experience and ambitions to decide what ideas they take on from social media, just like with any other resource.

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

As above, I believe that social media can have a powerful impact on teachers’ engagement with professional dialogue and collaboration. However, they need to have an arsenal of skills and understandings from which to engage effectively with new ideas and practices through social media. I feel that a small (but growing) group of professionals are utilising Twitter, but many experienced teachers don’t feel the need or desire to engage with something that is seen as a waste of time (usually by those who don’t understand its potential).

4. What do you feel are you strengths?

I believe I am a good facilitator. Whether it is in the classroom or through professional development I think I am a good judge of the learners I manage and am able to assist them gaining the skills and knowledge they need to achieve their aims. I think I am creative enough to develop ideas and strategies independently in order to engage, inspire and educate.

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

Debating about best practice and the ways in which learning can occur. I love giving advice about alternative learning experiences (especially using technology) or providing support to teachers who do not feel confident about their practice in some way. I also love having an argument with people – so long as it is civil and everyone listens to each other!

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

I like to ask teachers what is their favourite lesson to teach and why. Usually there is a particular skills or area of knowledge that a teacher will feel particularly adept in, and usually that idea can be transplanted to other situations if not shared with other teachers as well.

Thank you Matthew! I agree with you that many experienced teachers don’t feel the need or desire to engage with social media in an education setting. It does have great potential, particularly in allowing educators derive informal professional development from their peers. Social media can put us in touch with experts, the latest news, the latest opinions and the memes that are the focus of our modern world. Perfect for the teaching of humanities. Thank you for participating Matthew and readers, please remember to subscribe to Matthew’s Twitter feed:

Matthew on Twitter: @mesterman
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