I’m convinced that time does indeed speed up for those having fun (especially travelling) as I found myself bound for the second city of Scotland (according to those living in Edinburgh) and the capital according to local Glaswegians. The home of Billy Connolly, the victim of Thatcherism, the site of many an historic battle (over land, or a spilt beer), I was happy to be back in Glasgow after a 6 year absence. Holding very happy travel memories of when I went with two close friends for a few nights, I found my way on to a hop-on/hop-off bus tour to relive some memories and create new ones.
The bus took us through cobbled streets and past modern office blocks, we went past monuments to poets, architects and generals, three universities (some obviously hosting graduation ceremonies judging by the many gowned and suited people walking excitedly around the campuses) and other monuments to both the distant and recent past. Glasgow has magnificent parklands and other public spaces to visit as well as cutting edge facilities such as the Science Centre, BBC and a bridge that crosses the river in a slightly diagonal fashion, which the citizens if Glasgow named the “squinty bridge” (meaning crooked).
Alighting back near Queen Street, one of the two main train stations of the city, I made my way to the building which houses Education Scotland. After assuring the security men that I’m meeting someone and probably looking very suspicious loitering in the lobby until RJ came to meet me. The point of me visiting him at work was to meet a bunch of other educators in a TeachMeet-style get together. RJ made the event very open to all but called it “MattMeet” which put some pressure on to perform!
We had university lecturers, school inspectors, practicing teachers, consultants and pre-service teachers presenting and sharing ideas in an informal and supportive environment, exactly what a TeachMeet should be. I didn’t prepare a PowerPoint or a Prezi through which to offer my ideas but rather I showed the group the TeachMeet Australia website, the TeachMeet Sydney wiki and explained how if it were not for social media, I don’t believe TeachMeets could occur in their valuable form. Planning, preparing and sharing is made so much easier through social media (whilst still using traditional modes to include as many educators as possible).
I offered my view that you won’t get all teachers on to social media – mainly because that is not their preferred style of learning and communication – but that we must offer the chance and the support to all teachers so that they can make the choice of how to engage with their professional development. Those who choose not to engage in such an active management of their own learning will find it much more difficult to engage in 21st century education.
My new colleagues shared many great insights with me and for that I am grateful. I shall take many of them back to school and the TeachMeet community.
Ideas raised included:
– connecting with students outside of school time to promote independent learning and avoiding the lag which can occur through illness or absence.
– connecting students to experts through social media
– establishing a global network and/or audience for students
– sharing common experiences amongst educators for feedback (3D perspective)
– establishing communities of practice online
– curation of content via social media tools to avoid an overload of information
– the gap between student and teacher understanding of social and educational value of social media
I was very fortunate to participate in this forum and on the train back from Glasgow to Edinburgh I would have not stopped chatting with my colleagues from the north, but I fell asleep instead.