This post is going to be reflective. More reflective than a mirror. More reflective than Botany Bay on a day without wind (which I saw recently – amazing). In short, the only way I could make this more reflective is by typing backwards.
The last six months have been quite busy for my colleagues and I. Not just at my wonderful school with the usual business of teaching, learning, cocurricular, extracurricular and professional development. Not even just in my personal life. An area that floats somewhere between the two – and the focus of this post – is my professional and personal growth through my PLN and TeachMeets.
For those who have not heard of TeachMeets (TMs), many of my edubuddies have posted about it. Henrietta Miller has written about it here (just one of many about TMs and just one of many amazing and inspiring articles). Jeanette James has too, here. Simon Crook has too, here. Bianca Hewes has been involved and reflects here. Summer Howarth has another fantastic reflection here. Malyn Mawby – my singing partner at #TMXmas in 2011 – has a wonderful entry here.
The best thing to do regarding TeachMeets is to ask about it from someone who has been to one. Two is better. A regular participant is probably ideal.
I feel very lucky to be part of the growth of TeachMeets, a truly grassroots approach to professional learning which is truly peer-to-peer and gives everyone a voice who’s keen to share. Yes there’s a bit of organisation in the background to make things happen. Yes we have some big events occasionally to get the message out to more people. Yes we’re still feeling our way through what we want TeachMeets to be. But isn’t it exciting not having any rules? Being able to try and risk and experiment? How often do you get to do that sitting in a lecture organised by a professional learning service often for the purpose of achieving hours/standards/requirements?
I find TeachMeets exciting. I find them stimulating and challenging. They are never the same and yet always energising and give me new ideas and open new connections to my fantastic colleagues all around Australia and the world. In fact, TeachMeets are now growing to be regular events in many towns and cities around the nation. We look forward to every Aussie teacher being able to tap in to their local TeachMeet community to feel connected, supported and inspired.
Anyone can host a TeachMeet. And if you want to, TeachMeet Sydney (http://tmsydney.wikispaces.com) and TeachMeet[AUS} (www.teachmeet.net) are ready to help you get one going in your area.
Does it have to be held at a school? No. Several Aussie TeachMeets have been held at pubs, libraries,
Does it have to be held after school? No. Why not on a Saturday like Cam’s TeachMeet Unplugged? Click here.
Does it have to involve Powerpoint? No.
Does there need to be a formal list of presenters? No.
Are sponsors allowed to present? No.
Choose a model that suits your context and the nature of professional learning and sharing you wish to promote. In the end, the host gets to choose. So long as it doesn’t erode the fundamental tenants of TeachMeets (free, quick presentations/talks, open, refreshing, interactive) give it a go.
If you don’t want to host just yet – get along to one and begin the conversation. You might not agree with everything or adopt every idea for your classroom but you will be forced to think, just for a moment at least, can I do this teaching thing differently?
We are a growing community of practice. The many participants, hosts, presenters and supporters of TeachMeets have fostered a shared sense of purpose and value. I haven’t mentioned nearly enough people in this post. I hope you know that over the last 18 months I have grown as a person and as an educator because of you.
Thanks to a bit of effort and a lot of luck, I’m travelling to the UK to meet and greet a bunch of keen educators (who are also Tweeters, TeachMeeters and/or innovators in their various areas). I look forward to sharing ideas and ways that we can make TeachMeets a sustainable and meaningful experience for all Aussie teachers.
We all have something to learn. We all have something to share.