Our First Teachmeet

I’d never heard of a ‘Teachmeet’ before I entered the ‘Twittersphere’ last year as @DP40days. (I was surrounded by colleagues who were giving up cake or alcohol for Lent and I wanted to start something, not stop it, for forty days).

Teachmeets are pretty well established in the Primary and Secondary school sectors, but are only just taking off in our post-16 world. They are informal gatherings run for teachers, by teachers, about teaching. @mattpearson calls them “illegal raves” on the spectrum of CPD events and he should know. He turned up last week wearing a Teachmeet T-Shirt.

The challenge I put to @JulieORegan our Learning Technology Manager last term was, “What is the point of TMC being the ‘largest college’ if we don’t use that ‘largeness’ to be a resource at the heart of innovation in teaching and learning?”

So we met up with Paul McKean @MoodleMcKean and his colleagues from JISC Regional Support Centre @JISCRSCNW to learn from their experience in running this sort of event. Then Julie set off on the adventure to organise our own #TMManchester. From our research, we hoped to attract 15-20 people.

We wanted this event to be true to the spirit of Teachmeets so it was advertised through informal networks, Twitter and other social media on the back of a twin offer of “Free CPD, Free Cake”.

On a wet and windy January evening last week, sixty-five teachers from around a dozen colleges and sixth forms turned up at our first ever Teachmeet. Twenty or so had volunteered beforehand to do a two- or a seven-minute presentation and the rest signed up as “enthusiastic lurkers”.

There was a bias in the presentations towards learning technology, natural, I suppose, based on how people had heard about the event. But this wasn’t some sort of Tomorrow’s World revival. Teachers described what they used and how they used it, but focussed on the impact on learners and what they had found worked, or didn’t work.

Most presenters were Teachmeet first-timers and guests from Salford, Trafford and Aquinas all had a go, the latter suckering us into a German vocabulary test using Quizlet. Unglaublich.

Many presenters were from @TheMcrCollege. Beth Tunstall @tunners78 for example described her use of Turnitin and gave feedback on its use from her students. Lawrence Brannon @Mediatvfilm and Mark Denton @m2ppd discussed their use of blogs and Facebook in learning, but also talked about how they protected themselves and their students from safeguarding risks.

Tweets were fairly zipping through the ether and as well as presenting about Nearpod, @PhillSayer has “storified” most of the tweets (except mine Phil!) at http://t.co/pUY1LwjNQH. Repa @rbegum2013 from Levenshulme High tweeted a visual summary of all the presentations, and a very nice side-profile shot of yours truly looking interested – which I was!

So, a great event, an engaged and involved audience, and a truckful of ideas and thoughts on teaching to take home. You can catch up with some of the presentations at bit.ly/1fb242F. If you missed it, I think we can persuade Julie to run another one soon, and I’m sure our sponsors will be lining up again to provide the same fine range of nibbles and cake.

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About dp40days

A senior leader in Further and Higher Education, now based in Moray (pronounced "Murray") on the coast of the Scottish Highlands. (I know, I love paradox). We have more sunshine and less rain each year than my previous home in Manchester, and our football team is doing better too! You can find me on Twitter as @DP40days. Blogs so far have either been about FE, or about a Trans-Siberian Journey to Japan that I took last year. Fáilte romhat!
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