eTwinning – people watching for teachers

etwinning-people-watchingI love people watching. It’s a guilty pleasure that I’m sure most people will secretly admit to. It’s life affirming watching people who look so different to you and then realising that they’re actually very similar. We’re all just weaving our way through life, trying to get ahead and stay happy.

I think I love people watching because I learn more about myself that other people. My reactions and judgements reflect my own values and thoughts but watching them from a distance and trying to read their lives gives me a mirror to reflect on my own life. It gives me a perspective outside of my own personal experience which is something to treasure in a world where information is manipulated into an echo chamber that blinkers unwelcome ideas.

That’s why I’ve got into eTwinning. It is possibly the most useful resource in looking at what other teachers are doing across Europe, other than actually visiting their classrooms. It’s is a website run by the European Commission with the purpose of:

‘school collaboration in Europe […] for schools to form short or long term partnerships in any subject area.’

eTwinning’s superb for connecting classrooms across the continent and can help to add an international dimension to teaching and learning, enriching pupil experiences and outlooks. It is also an incredibly powerful tool for teacher collaboration and sharing.

As I discussed in my earlier blog, the time is right to engage in a discussion of how we approach an increasingly PISA obsessed world while maintaining a sense of context. As such, I’ve set up an exciting project on eTwinning that hopes to gather information on what other teachers around Europe do. This one will focus on classroom layout an design because this offers a window into the cultural context of other classrooms. As Robert Sommer (1977) eloquently explained:

‘The arrangement and use of space are parts of the nonverbal communication system of the classroom. One can learn to “read” the physical arrangement of chairs and desks, the use of decorations and real and symbolic barriers to gauge the present and desired levels of interaction.’

I’ve asked project members to fill in the following document: classroom-layout-questions-for-project-members.

If you wish to take part, please log onto the eTwinning website and sign up. It’s open to all – the more the better!

I’m hoping that the results of this project will change our classes and practices, but most importantly I hope it’ll help us learn more about the educational cultures in other countries.


Sommer, Robert (1977); Classroom Layout; Theory Into Practice; Volume XVI, Number 3; p174

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