Friday, 10 February 2012

TeachMeet – Show and Tell for Teachers

I heard of TeachMeets about 5 years ago and attended one a year later. I went to another a few days ago. My experience at each has been very different and while I think any event where teachers share what interests them is good news, I have some reservations. I’ll come back to that later.
TeachMeets started in Scotland in 2005 when Ewan McIntosh, David Noble and John Johnston, who knew each other on-line, met in-person for the first time to share how they had been using new technologies in education. The informal TeachMeets started with a dozen or so people in the Jolly Judge pub in Edinburgh (the Scots have a style I can relate to).
See: TeachMeet – The Story so far…. by Iain Hallahan (
The idea caught on and events are now organised across the country by a wide variety of people and organizations with a wide variety of foci. Many events are promoted through an open pbworks site.
(the Navigator Panel to the right of the page gives links to details for each event).
The mid-week event was hosted by an Llandrillo FE College and was well attended by college staff, nearby secondary school teachers and some Local Authority IT staff. The organisers, NGfL Cymru and RSC Wales provided a live webcast for those who preferred the comfort of their own laptop (and recorded clips of each presentation). There were 15 micro presentations (7 mins each) and 3 nano presentations (2 mins each) and a rather nice buffet half way through (see here for details). All presenters spoke with knowledge and enthusiasm for their topic. I learnt something from almost every presentation and I will highlight those bits over the next few months. Today though, I will mention 3 topics that seemed to connect with me more than the others:
  • Questioning (David Morris) – Most teachers are aware of closed and open type questions but the message here was to get students to ask the questions rather than the teachers as a way to encourage curiosity.
  • Wordwall (Josh Smith) – I’ve investigated a number of voting systems over the years and most are variations on a basic theme. The handsets shown and the presentation software represent a completely new approach to collecting feedback. Shows huge potential!
  • Digital Leaders (Allan Heard) – It’s really interesting to see how pupils will respond when you give them some status and a purpose.
The whole evening was extremely well planned and executed although I would have welcomed some more time for questions and networking, a very professional event.
And there lies my reservation; professional.

The first TeachMeet I attended was very informal, more like the original format but it turned out rather chaotic because there were too many people. Reading

Iain Hallahan’s blog further ( there are fundamentalist stirrings at the moment that explain my reluctance to endorse the approach whole heartedly.  There seems to be a desire to get back to more informal smaller gatherings that mix the social and the professional in more equal balance. I look forward to future TeachMeets that are more ‘a chat with friends’ than a ‘professional conference’.

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