Teach Meet #3
I have just attended my third Teach Meet. Although I am retired and do not have a class of eager youngsters to educate, I love these gatherings of like minded people. They provide the opportunity for sharing tried and tested ideas and suggestions. They are presented by teachers for teachers. I usually come away really buzzing and wishing that I had the opportunity to have a go myself with some of the links presented.
However, this Teach Meet was different. It was the largest I had been to and from the list of presentations was certainly going to be worth the two hour plus journey to get there. It had been very generously sponsored by a number of companies who had contributed prizes for a raffle at the end of the evening and added to the goodie bag for each attendee. The venue of a University gave it the gravitas and ‘learning-feel’ that is needed. After all, teachers were giving up their time to continue their professional development so the occasion had to have status.
So the stage was set for a great evening but somehow it fell short. The presentations were as brilliant as they usually are, with colleagues enthusing us with what they have found out from the many software ideas out there. There was a good variety of topics and age ranges covered and the random selector did its job of picking the next ‘victim’. However something was missing.
It wasn’t the refreshments because there was plenty of chocolate, tea, coffee and cold drinks. It wasn’t the number attending (30+) – as I said it was the biggest I have attended but not so big that people felt lost. Reflecting on the event on my home I came to the conclusion that what was missing was a leader.
The other Teach Meets had a practising teacher who knew many of the presenters and who could ad lib between presentations. They also encouraged the audience to ask questions and interact with what was happening. They arranged for a comfort break so that people could talk to each other. As we all know, when you’re at training it is often the coffee break that is most beneficial giving you the opportunity to network with specific people and ask further questions.
One of the joys of Teach Meets is the spontaneity of them and the different character each of them has. What they all share is that energy and enthusiasm of practitioners together working for the children in their classes. With the budgetary situations local authorities and schools face, the range and frequency of training for teacher is going to be very limited. We are going to rely more and more on events like Teach Meets to make sure that the latest information is getting to teachers. If we are going to spread the Teach Meet word we have to make sure that they do provide what it says on the tin.
Please don’t get me wrong. This is not a moan or gripe about the evening. I came away having listened to some more amazing folk with another bank of ideas but there was something missing. Perhaps it was the fact that the random selector seemed to be running things picking some presentors to do their 2nd, 3rd in very quick succession. Perhaps it was the fact that the evening seemed to fizzle out with presenters still to present but being left until after the draw which saw some people leaving. A leader would have organized things and kept them moving. We need to make sure that even though each Teach Meet may be different, it has a good structure with someone ‘in charge’ to keep things flowing. Hopefully, that way teachers will come back for more!