A TeachMeet is an informal gathering of educators curious about other people’s ideas on learning. Educators are a nosey bunch! We love the chance to look around other people’s classrooms and to use ideas that have had success elsewhere.
When we attend a TeachMeet or any professorial development event the currency is ideas, we are dealing in ideas. We go with our own and most of the time we are up for trading them with those from other teachers. Broadly speaking whichever course we are attending we hope there is something that we can take back and apply to our own classes.
I think the emphasis on real, practical ideas and stories from the classroom is great but I think we must always remember that the format they are delivered in must be nurtured too.
One of the main reasons people don’t attend such an event cold, (ie. never attended before, not heard of it before) is the assumption it will be like 95% of all professional development teachers have had since university. Basically an expert, paid, invited, revered (?) speaker telling them how it is / was / should be.
The style of TeachMeet breaks that mould. The people attending are all experts, there is a relaxed approach to learning. We all understand that some of us prefer to flit between things, some of us prefer to become engrossed. Some of us stand, some of us sit, some of us Tweet. And that is all OK.
One of the reasons we don’t present is that so many of us believe our own ideas are not going to be good enough. That MY IDEA + CONFERENCE + PRESENTING = DOOM. But our own ideas are ones we have already committed to – so often they are successful little sparks that have been brilliantly useful in our own spaces. Growing into glowing flames in our classrooms. How do we get beyond the thought that sharing the flame might extinguish it?
Perhaps we need to organise smaller TeachMeets.
If I attended a meeting with 20 educators and I took away 19 practical classroom ideas – I would be really happy! Are those 20 people going to be more willing to share their ideas in that smaller group – probably. Are those 20 teachers going to return to their schools ever so slightly more willing to speak up in a staff meeting and make their voice heard and to share an idea they got from elsewhere – hopefully.
So the very nature of the event needs to be nurtured so that it is not what you might think from a conference. That old assumptions have to be disbanded from the outset. After all a teachmeet doesn’t need a sponsor, technology – it just needs us to bring our ideas and be willing to make that trade.
Pic – TeachMeet at BETT 2010 by Mr Ush