TeachMeets have a bright future, as does the teaching profession more widely, if TeachMeet Macquarie University (or #tmMQ on Twitter) is anything to go by.

Tonight, thanks to the powerhouse of organisation that is the MQU Education Society, led very ably by Stephy Adan (@stephyadan), nearly 100 educators and soon-to-be-educators experienced a TeachMeet that was thought-provoking, useful and highly valuable for all involved. The theme was “Golden Advice”, therefore a few of us turned up in various smatterings of gold clothing and accessories. Some accused us of looking like Commbank staff. Not pointing any fingers @7mrsjames!

You can click HERE for the Storify of the many tweets that came through thanks to participants and those unable to attend. (Special thanks to @grubbypandas for the Storify!)

From Rod Lane’s explanation of how best to approach DEC (Government Schools) interviews through Cameron Paterson (@cpaterso) arguing for more focus on learning rather than performance, the night was littered with absolute gold dust for pre-service and current practitioners alike.

Some presentations focused on key strategies or tools such as: Henrietta Miller (@henriettaMi) presenting on the use of Class Dojo for behaviour management; Darren Johnstone presenting 7 tools such as Google Apps and Microsoft OneNote in under 3 minutes (with examples!); Leanne Cameron (@leannecameron) arguing for the use of Twitter to establish a PLN; James Smith (@JamesSmithTeach) showing us some low-cost ways to engage primary students in learning.

Michael Salazar’s talk on sticking with the tough kids, supporting them and being perhaps the only person they have who believes in them, was quite moving. It showed that amazing things can happen, even years after a student has a particular teacher directly in their life.

Other presenters chose a more theoretical or philosophical discussion, challenging those in the room to think about their role and the impact that they will have as a teacher. Phillip Cooke, Cam Paterson, Henna Ali, Jackie Slaviero, Yasodai Selvakumaran, Mitch Squires, Denyse Whelan, Jeanette James and Stacey Quince all offered sage advice on a range of topics. All presentations, I feel, orbited the central concepts that:

  • teaching is an incredibly challenging and rewarding vocation
  • teachers need support and ambition, with a good dose of pragmatism
  • teachers should build their own Professional Learning Network and seek to share as much as possible with others

Teachers were from Public, Catholic and Independent schools – but this didn’t even rate a mention, as we’re all teachers. Presenters ranged from pre-service through to highly experienced – again, no mention. Some challenged the very foundations of what we are trained and expected to do by our schools and systems: a powerful thing to do in a room full of teachers yet to be consumed by compliance.

I hope with every atom of my being that those who attend teachmeets form the next generation of teachers, school leaders and decision-makers at the top. The passion, generosity and creativity of my fellow teachmeeters never fails to amaze me. It has given me the boost I needed to get to the end of term.

In other news…

Recently, a major development for teachmeets has occurred.

AITSL has awarded some of the more active teachmeet organisers with a grant to pursue a research project into our community and how we are (or aren’t) helping teaching and learning in schools. This is an exciting time for teachers and hopefully the project will enable us to expand and support further teach meet adventures in Australia.

For more info on the project parameters, visit http://www.aitsl.edu.au/verve/_resources/Innovative_approaches_-_Project_brief.pdf

This year, TeachMeets have or will have occurred in Brisbane, Melbourne, Bendigo, Byron Bay, NSW’s Central Coast, South Australia, Townsville, and possible Western Australia. We hope that TeachMeet Sydney will form a link in a national (and possibly international) chain of interconnected communities, able to support and enhance each others’ activities through organic, informal professional learning experiences.

If you live somewhere that does not yet have a TeachMeet community, start one! Go to http://www.teachmeet.net and discover what’s going on, and please do get in contact with us if you want help.