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TeachMeet 365
September 23rd, 2011 by H-Blog

EDIT – 20:13, 25th September

Just back in to the house after a long day out, and catching up on Twitter, emails, etc.  I have reading a number of posts and comments about TMSLF11, and while I am always an advocate of reflective practice, constructive criticism and striving for improvement, I think it is important to remember that people invest a lot in these events that they organise or contribute to; in terms of time, of effort and emotionally as well. When we are reflecting on such events, I think it is important to remember the emotional, personal and human aspect to it all and to exercise a degree of empathy, tact and respect – apart from anything else this is vital to ensure people continue to be willing to put themselves forward to organise or help to organise any event, TeachMeet or otherwise. For any of our critical reflections to cause genuine emotional upset to anyone means that this principle has gone wrong somewhere – as well as being counterproductive (in that it won’t help to improve things), I would hope that it must be unintentional as I would hate to think that anyone would wish to cause any such upset intentionally.

My post below, as mentioned within it, is an expression of feelings that have been growing for a while. They are not a response to TMSLF11 – it may have helped crystallize my thinking and given me a bit of a prod, acting as a catalyst for the post, but they are not intended to be a criticism of it – and if they have been taken that way I would like to apologise for the misunderstanding.

For what it’s worth, I would like to say that I thought the organisation of TMSLF11 was amazingly well done and that the evening itself was among the slickest and best-run TeachMeets I have been to. I would like to publicly thank those who organised and ran it – they made it look effortless, which I know it is not.

 

I now return you to the original post……

 

So, we’ve reached the September weekend again, which means that once more the Scottish Learning Festival is over and with it TMSLF11. The TeachMeet at the Scottish Learning Festival has a special place in the hearts and minds of many – including myself. For me, it was the first TeachMeet I attended – at the Glasgow Science Centre in 2007 – and I have been to every one since. They are different each year, and I’m always excited, amazed or enthused by something (or everything!) I see.

But.

I have mentioned before how great I think it would be for TeachMeet to grow and develop beyond the techie focus it is perceived to have just now, and how brilliant I think it would be to get more teachers involved in TeachMeets. Not just big ones and national ones, but small ones and local ones. I also think it is time to remind people (or let new people know?) that while the big ones are great and that obviously they need venues that are booked in advance, audio visual/tech support, sponsors and whatever else, just because a TeachMeet has none of that doesn’t mean it’s not a TeachMeet, or that there is nothing of value going on! Apart from being easier to organise, such a TeachMeet would hopefully be less scary – less scary to organise, less scary to attend, and less scary to speak at.

Because that was my other thought. The SLF Teachmeet in 2007 had 24 people volunteering to speak with 47 lurkers. Last night’s TeachMeet SLF11 had 13 speakers and about 100 lurkers. That’s a much smaller proportion. Whilst obviously there were round table discussions as well as the presentations, I can imagine that standing up in front of 100 people to give a presentation could be absolutely terrifying, particularly if it’s the first time you’ve done it.

So, I had a Big Idea. The last one of those I had turned out okay, although it had the potential to be a complete disaster. This one has the same capacity for disaster. And here it is……

 

 

So here’s the idea – 12 TeachMeets in one year, one every month. But small scale – no venue bookings (well, maybe a table booking…), no ICT setup, no sponsors to deal with. Just some people getting together willing to share something to do with what’s going on in classrooms right now; something they have seen or done, something they want to discuss or even something that they want to ask. Maybe in a pub, maybe in a cafe. Maybe in some woods, or in a garden. Maybe a meal, maybe a picnic. Or maybe, just maybe, in a school? And it wouldn’t matter if it was 2 people, or 12 people or 22 people or (any number in between) that showed up, because there would be no costs involved, or sponsors to deal with, or venues complaining about numbers.

So what do you think? Like I said – it has a capacity for disaster. But it might work. Is it worth trying?


12 Responses  
  • Tom Barrett writes:
    September 23rd, 201109:02at
  • Eylan Ezekiel writes:
    September 23rd, 201109:10at

    Brilliant idea -I think the DIY aspect of Teachmeet needs to be released again. Sponsors and venues are essential to broader inspriration and I love the flavours that this model has created.

    However, that needs to be fed more by lots of little stepping stones – to more effectively enable teachers to make their own way across the gulf between aspiration and inertia.

    I offer to set up TM365/Ox/1 at the Rusty Bike http://www.arkells.com/pubs_more2.php?id=609
    Looking forward to the wiki, etc…

  • Lynne Williams writes:
    September 23rd, 201111:50at

    We completely agree with your idea. We already have informal drinks/chat with our teacher friends, but offer to extend this and set up TM365/Cardiff/1….

  • Colin Maxwell writes:
    September 23rd, 201113:05at

    Getting back to basics and making it less intimidating for newcomers is a great idea. We held a Teachmeet internally within Carnegie College a few weeks ago. Turnout was small, but there was a variety of interesting presentations and it was good to find out about activities that were going on around us that we’d never heard of.

  • Ann D'Arcy writes:
    September 23rd, 201113:26at

    Last week was my 1st TeachMeet. I was a bit overwhelmed by it but did enjoy it and, I hope, benefit from it. I’m in the prcess of persuading my SMT to allow me to organize and host a KidsMeet in North Glasgow. I’d certainly be happy to plan a local TeachMeet. I think my first would be in the school where I’m comfortable and at home. After that the world would be our oyster. I retire next December, maybe organizing these could be my hobby then!

  • Linda Lapere writes:
    September 24th, 201109:39at

    My HT has pushed for these so our school is hosting the first one next month which I’m presenting. Focus is on ICT, 10 min presentation (ish. Could be longer if I get carried away and enthusiastic!) followed by chats. Going to focus on the sharing of ideas and just what’s out there which is the greatest part of TeachMeets – meeting other teachers & being inspired while making professional friends.
    Small, local ones are definitely the way forward I think. Building on confidence so who knows what might happen at next year’s SLFTM? I might have the courage to stand up there!

  • Ian Stuart writes:
    September 24th, 201109:56at

    I really like that idea of regular monthly chats. Its like an informal TLC.
    Loved the small teachmeets and small online (Its a location thing) meetings

  • Colin Maxwell writes:
    September 24th, 201111:02at

    If we get another mass of snow this winter and there are school closures again I’ll set up another TeachmeetUKSnow, but it will be at 24 hours notice in case of a sudden thaw!

  • Kenny Pieper writes:
    September 24th, 201112:04at

    This is a great idea. Teachmeet needs to get back to basics, I think. Teachmeet SLF11 was great but perhaps might be Intimidating for those less confident about presenting to their peers. Smaller, more classroom based work on a regular basis would be more encouraging.

  • Drew writes:
    September 24th, 201118:42at

    I’m with you on this. Had some thoughts on this topic a wee while ago –

    http://www.stuckwithphysics.co.uk/2011/08/teachmeet-unplugged/

    Might try and run the idea past the SLT and see if we can do something at my school….

  • stuckwithphysics.co.uk | In response to Islay ICT – TeachMeet & SLF writes:
    September 25th, 201117:05at

    [...] Iain Hallahan suggests in his TeachMeet365 blog post there is a growing will to return the stripped down, low key, local roots of TeachMeet. I think [...]

  • BrainPOP UK | Update on our TeachMeet sponsorship | POPtalk writes:
    September 26th, 201116:39at

    [...] we question is there a need for sponsorship at all? Look at Iain Hallahan’s new “TeachMeet 365” project for inspiration. His initiative has made this decision [...]


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