My first teachmeet

Jan 20, 2009

Miles Berry

It was a great joy to attend my first ever teachmeet at BETT last Friday. Ian Usher, Drew Buddie, Leon Cych and many others had done an outstanding amount of work to make the evening the success it undoubtedly was, not least through securing some significant sponsorship to keep the drink flowing freely.

The evening was a gathering of the ed-tech clan, or at least its paramilitary wing: really good to see so many old friends all gathered together in such a relaxed atmosphere, and a great treat to meet other folk, known through their blogs, tweets and podcasts, face to face for the first time. As with many a conference, the joy of the unconference was the conversations around the tables, and indeed in back channels like twitter, but that’s not to detract from the presentations themselves.

Not sure what I was expecting in advance of these, but I certainly didn’t feel prepared for the range, the variety of the platform presentations, in style, content or depth. We had academics like John Cuthall and Richard Millwood giving really quite profound insights into the broader pedagogic context within which ed tech could be used well, we had some folk from commercial projects chatting about particular applications of technology (eg, well worth a visit), consultants like Terry Freedman and John Davitt, the latter showing off the splendid learning event generator, and, generally the best bits these, a fair few teachers, chatting about their own classroom practice. The rules prohibited the use of Powerpoint/Keynote/Impress, which further added to the variety: it was great to hear people just talking about what they did, although there were a few talks for which a few illustrations would have helped.

I’d added my name into the wiki as someone willing to present, and thus spent most of the evening worrying that my name would be picked by Ian’s e-slot machine, that my humble contribution wasn’t really enough about practice, and that John Davitt would be throwing a stuffed camel at me because I wasn’t interesting enough.  To make matters worse, my name came up pretty much at the end of the evening. I’d used the scrapbook extension to firefox to prepare a few views of the school website, and so rushed through a quick tour of how we use Drupal to provide a hub for the school’s extended community, tags, departmental blogs, rss, ical and all – some nice feedback on Twitter and in person, so at least some folk found something of interest.

Leon’s uploading videos, there’s a great collection of photos on flickr, and kudos to José Picardo for a brilliant animoto slide show thing:

The teachmeet/unconference/barcamp model is a really appealing one for CPD more generally, of course. We’ve tried things heading in this direction ourselves – back at my previous school we did a perambulatory INSET as we moved from one class to another for colleagues to demonstrate the way they’d used interactive whiteboards, and at my present school we’ve had subject coordinators do mini ‘updating’ presentations, had folks chat about the way they use circle time and had a few colleagues do 7 minute demonstration lessons – all very successfully. Opening this up further still, with a semi random selection of staff-led 10 minute mini INSETs has really captured my imagination. Watch this space!