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.
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?