January 2020 I resolved to join the wider educational community and gosh has it changed my life and it is down to you my Twitter friends!
Back in the deep, dark depths of January I started to connect with others through #teacher5oclockclub and met its host - the phenomenal Paul Garvey - and so many others. All were welcoming, all were accepting and all were there to answer my bizarre questions and make me feel part of something special.
Through that thread, I met @deputygrocott and fell upon (quite literally) #FFBWednesday. I am a rule follower and therefore did exactly what it said on the tin. I retweeted, I liked, followed, I was followed and I met even more people. Some people didn't follow the rules as literally as I did though and this bothered me. Thankfully, Deputy Grocott was patient and responded kindly to my tweets and messages moaning about others not following. He politely suggested that I do something about it.
From that conversation, #TinyVoiceTuesday was born - a week later #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites were created too. About a month later the #TVTTagTeam came to fruition. I pinched myself, I questioned myself and I wondered what on earth was going on as people began to use the hashtags and join in with #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites each week. Questions were answered by the Tag Team and more importantly - people were beginning to find their voice.
I didn't know this at the time but this is why I was doing it. I wanted people to feel heard. All too often in this busy world that we live in, we can feel as if we are talking into a void. Worse still, sometimes we are actively not encouraged or not required to voice our opinions. It is at times like these that we lose confidence in ourselves and the power of our own convictions - at least this was the case with me. I was even scared of saying what books I liked, just in case they were the wrong ones.
You helped me to find my voice though. Each week, as people joined the #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites thread I found myself growing in confidence and I began to make genuinely good friends. Friends who I have never met in real life, but I know will be there for me if I need them and vice versa (I was going to list them but they know who they are). These friends gave me the courage to speak on #GlobalBrewEdIsolation.
I will never forget the feeling of imposter syndrome that possessed me in the run up to that event. How could I speak alongside Alison Kriel, Chris Dyson, Simon Smith and so many others? Who was I to speak on that platform? Graham Andre received many messages in the run up to the event - messages asking if I could pull out - he kindly suggested I just give it a go. I took to my close Twitter friends and asked them what I should do as I was terrified of making a fool of myself. One of them said something that really stuck with me (I will paraphrase it here) - 'Toria if you can find your voice it will empower so many others to find theirs'. So I did. I was shaking and spoke a million miles an hour. I rambled on for over twenty minutes and wished that I had the calm disposition of some of the other speakers but I did it and that was immense!!!!
I went on to speak at other events and with the help of Mark Anderson, I improved on my presenting skills. Then I had another idea - another way that people could find their voice, just as I had. I spoke to Ed Finch (Brew Ed co-founder) and asked if I could run with my latest idea and he was so supportive. I had a vision of educationalists who rarely got heard, having a platform and others listening to them - #BrewEdFindYourVoice was born.
Gosh, did I learn a lot through the creation of it. I was taught about the importance of representation by @MindfulEquityUk. Raj Unsworth and my dear friend Sharifah Lee and I had a new mission - to be an ally. I truly wanted to use my platform to ensure that the voices of all were heard. I also learnt to use new digital platforms and to host something on my own - the very first time I had. In fact, have I mentioned that I had done nothing of this sort ever in my life before!!! #BrewEdFindYourVoice happened at the end of August and I was inspired - eight hours of non-stop CPD. Wow!!!! I walked into school the next week thinking - yes, we can do it!!!! I also met the most amazing bunch of educators who formed close bonds due to finding their voice together. I am so grateful for this.
During the Summer someone else appeared in my life - Carl McCarthy - a truly selfless human who shared my vision to have the voices of others heard. Together we created #TinyVoiceTalks - the podcast. I chatted and he produced and the voices of educationalists the world over were heard. Thank you to everyone who has listened to the guests and truly heard their voices. If you haven't heard them, then here is the link -
if you want your voice heard then fill this in and I will get back to you. I am booked up until April unbelievably but am taking bookings from then.
At the end of interviewing Richard O'Neill for #TinyVoiceTalks - the podcast, he had a phenomenal idea - #TinyVoiceTalks - The Book Salon and in November we had our first one with Richard, Vashti Hardy, Rich Simpson and Sharifah Lee. It is an evolving idea where educators and authors come together to just talk about books but I do love an evolving idea. In the next one we will talk about the power of emotions in books. Please get in touch if you would like to be part of a future salon.
Throughout 2020, the ideas kept evolving and voices were being heard more and more and for that I thank each and every one of you. There were certain people who listened to my voice throughout and were great sounding boards. Julia Skinner you have a wonderful listening ear and John Magee you have helped me more than I can ever put into words. You both embody the values that you preach and for that I am eternally grateful. Sharifah Lee and Raj Unsworth - thank you for being phenomenal friends. Alien and Franki I am forever grateful for your sage advice and for you just being there!
I also need to give a shout-out to others who rippled kindness into my Twitter feed each week - Rich Simpson, Teacher Paul and Sham and also to those who have given me opportunities - Mark Anderson, Evo Hannan, Hannah Wilson, Naylors Natter, Tea and Educake, Sarah Mullin, #MorningBrewEd team, True Education Partnerships, Nexus Education and so many others - thank you. Gosh this sounds like a speech - it isn't but I am just so grateful to know you all.
This Tuesday was a sad moment for me as I bid a fond farewell to the hashtag #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites. The thread has grown and evolved each week and next Tuesday we will be meeting under a new hashtag #TinyVoiceTalks. This was after an extensive consultation period in which the voices of many were heard and it was decided that #TinyVoiceTalks was a more fitting hashtag for our community meet up. So look out for my pinned tweet next Tuesday, come along and connect with the most amazing group of people. The new artwork looks like this - it is exactly the same concept, just with a new name!
I hope you keep coming each week because you will never know how much you help each other. I have received so many messages from people who were so low but felt the TVT love at times when they really needed it. There is no doubt that 'together we are stronger'.
So here we are at the end of 2020 and I want to thank you all. Together we have created an amazing community, have supported one another and helped so many to find their voices.
You are all amazing and I am incredibly grateful to know you. I will be there this Tuesday, and the one after and the one after that so please pop by. I am also always at the end of a DM and want nothing more than to support my fellow educationalists.
I am truly excited to see what 2021 holds for each and every one of you and if you haven't yet, I really hope that I can help you to find your voice!