I’ve spent a long time trying to put the words together for this post, and as I type now, I’m still not sure how this will look when I finish typing. Perhaps to start with what, before worrying about the Why.
Litdrive was something I have always been incredibly proud of. Along with the amazing people I have met during my time on Twitter as a teacher, Litdrive felt like a profound, sustainable way of contributing to that community beyond throwing my own (never quite as spectacular) resources out there for others. Always fantastic at dumbing down my own achievements, I would try and explain Litdrive to friends as,’ I just put a bunch of resources together for other people to use,’ but I am proud and confident to say it is so much more than that. When starting out as Literacy Coordinator, during huge shifts in KS3 curriculum mapping across schools and when I took up a post as Assistant Subject Leader, the collaborative nature of Litdrive was an absolute lifesaver for me.
My own sentiments were echoed back to me over and over again; teachers would email requesting to be involved, sharing their own isolations or lack of confidence in their capability to produce fantastic tools for use within the classroom. It seemed that imposter syndrome is far reaching in this profession; I would be sent amazing stuff that I knew would shave hours off my and other teachers’ planning time, and the sender would play it down with comments like,’ it’s not much,’ ‘I’m not sure it’s really what you are after,”I’ll send some better stuff when I get a chance.’ I was blown away with the generosity of people, in such a tough, tough climate where time is beyond precious.
Over the last month, Litdrive reached whirlwind stakes. Having discussed with two other English teachers to take on their own shared drives to merge with Litdrive, as we became more and more aware that we were simply duplicating work when it could be one service, word of Litdrive spread. I received in excess of fifty emails a day, from every level of management within school, from a range of countries beyond the UK, but all with the same enthusiasm and willingness to contribute and participate. The buzz was infectious; people were receiving positive, encouraging feedback for their work, people were coming together with ideas of collaboration for future projects but most importantly for me, people were saving time. As one teacher commented,’ HOURS and HOURS of time that I will be able to spend with my two very young daughters.’ This feedback wasn’t isolated to parents, but NQTs looking for guidance, individuals new to particular roles or simply those who had been out of education for a little while.
Beyond that, the people I have met and collaborated with thanks to Litdrive have been priceless to me. This is a tough gig, teaching, and surrounding yourself with people who show compassion, patience and generosity is worth hanging on to.
But I don’t want to make this post a gushy, aren’t teachers great kind of deal. Two weeks ago, for reasons that I am too dignified to elaborate upon (and that ripple beyond just me), Litdrive had to be removed from a public platform. Over 1500 contributors, 300,000 files and so much hard work from so many people, over such a number of years. As I write (one handed, as with all tasks carried out on my maternity leave), I cannot tell you how devastated I was about my choice, but it was very much the right one. Not wanting to focus on the problems and the pitfalls, and with time to let the dust settle, the experience has presented itself as an opportunity in new form.
An opportunity to provide a professional, FREE service to teachers. To bring teachers together without the bitter aftertaste of a price for their request for help, the fear of someone selling on their hard work, the reassurance that they have a collective body of several teachers to support them. Litdrive IS the answer to the workload issue surrounding planning, and I put that down in complete conviction (and a small amount of terror from my inside voice). I have the grandest of plans to making Litdrive work, but it will take time, and the munificence of so many of you in order to make it happen. I don’t want to make a profit, I just want to provide something with a grassroots ethos that we can say, we run our own show here. We provide for one another. We build our own abundance of knowledge. We, as a group, make teaching better for ourselves and one another. Think of us as a giant super-powered teacher cooperative- because after all, the little guys come out good in the end.
I cannot promise a timescale or even a platform at this given time, but it was vital to me and my own integrity that I shared a little of our current state of play. If you think that you could contribute to what will be a spectacular service for English teachers, by all means start a discussion with me via Twitter or at email@example.com. We will need all of you, wit me all of your knowledge, skills, enthusiasm and will to make it happen. Until then, what Arnie said in that film that time.