TeachMeet Midlands UK, May 20, 2011


I'm looking forward to what I am confident will be one of my most stimulating professional development experiences of the year on the evening of Friday May 20: TeachMeet Midlands at the National College here in the UK. TeachMeets are informal gatherings of (originally) teachers, designed to allow the sharing of ideas and use of technology in the classroom. For the second time in three years I have helped to organise this event alongside Tom Barrett and additionally this year with my talented colleague Kevin Mulryne.

Here's what we have to look forward to at the event:

Stories of practice

Above all, TeachMeet is about educators telling each other stories about their own practice, from a variety of contexts and across a range of sectors. Stories of success stories of failure and stories of work in progress. Practice that you can emulate and adapt in your classroom tomorrow. Presenters at TeachMeet Midlands have signed up to give 7 minute micro presentations or 2 minute nano presentations about their practice. It's a pacy, heady mix of narrative and learning.

Committed and passionate practitioners

Participation and attendance at a TeachMeet is entirely voluntary. Nobody is being paid to present. There are no keynoters. It's a Friday night and it's voluntary and consequently it will be full of committed and passionate practitioners open to learning from their peers, eager to share their own stories and extend their own practice.

The audience on the stage

TeachMeet is an unconference. There is no prescribed programme or recruited keynote speakers. The agenda is entirely blank until practitioners begin to sign up (on the TeachMeet wiki in our case) to offer to share their stories and make their presentations. When you attend a TeachMeet you are likely to be sitting at a table with one of the presenters rather than watching them from afar. The programme is in the hands of the attendees. The audience is on the stage.

Remote and international participation

This is where you come in – If you cannot make it to TeachMeet Midlands you can easily follow the event live online as we will be streaming it live via a web conference (using WebEx). If you would like to attend the web conference, you can register for the session. You can also join in the conversation via Twitter using the #tmm11 hashtag.

In addition to a high quality 'outward' stream of the event, we will also have some remote and international participants presenting to the venue and to attendees on the web conference. Thanks to generous support from Dell, we've hired a cracking PA system so that we'll achieve great quality audio out from the venue to the web conference and back from web conference presenters to the venue.

A world-class venue

Thanks to support from the National College, we're able to run the event at the College's fantastic Learning and Conference Centre. We'll have a tremendous auditorium, excellent breakout rooms, a bar, fantastic social spaces and even a deck over a lake as the location for the event.

National College Learning and Conference Centre

Learning in the spaces in-between and after

TeachMeet is as much about the conversations and the connections as it is about the more formal presentations. It's about the people you meet and the conversations you have over coffee before the kick-off. It's about having time to talk with your peers in the break and over food afterwards. It's about the connections and conversations that continue after the event in other online networks, via blogs and Twitter and at other events.

Great food

To nurture those conversations and connections after the formal proceedings are over, we have a TeachEat get-together immediately after the TeachMeet at the venue. Thanks to generous support from Channel 4 Learning / Espresso Education, Education City and Vital, we have a buffet prepared by the College’s catering team for participants who have signed up for TeachEat.

Curation of a record of the event

The stories and lessons shared at a TeachMeet are often too good to be enjoyed only by those who attend the event. So we're putting in a big effort this year to curate a really decent record of the event that will be of real value to educators internationally, in addition to the numerous blog posts and images and stories that the event will generate. So, firstly, using a copy of Camtasia kindly supplied by TechSmith, we plan to edit a recording of the web conference into standalone videos of each presentation which we will host within an archive at ReelSurfer, with their generous support. Secondly, my very talented colleague Pete Clarke, who also runs Only Forward Photography in Nottingham, will photograph the event and share the images via Flickr.

So, how does that sound? Can you make it to Nottingham on the 20th? If not, why not join the web conference?

Can you also help us spread the word to those who have never experienced a TeachMeet? Can you:

  • Tell 2 people about TeachMeet Midlands who would not normally discover this type of event?
  • Encourage 2 people to go to TeachMeet Midlands (or one of the TM5 events this year.)
  • Bring 2 people with you who would not normally attend.

Pic credit: TeachMeet Midlands 2009 by Mr Ush.

This post was originally featured on Stuart's blog here.

About the Author: Stuart Sutherland