I have been asked similar questions before so I thought I’d share my thinking. Here’s what people say to me often,
“Why do you do all this extra work with TeachMeets for free. You should make it a business, you already have the reputation.”
That has never been my intention or any of us who made it happen.
We wanted to make a difference in the education landscape of WA. We wanted to coordinate free pl for teachers by teachers for all sectors. We wanted teachers to find support within our profession locally and encourage global connections.
I derive pure satisfaction out of inspiring teachers to take risks, keeping them informed, continually questioning them and giving opportunities to reflect and have healthy conversations about where our teaching need to head given that the future for our students is uncertain.
There are some core beliefs I have and I continually share them with you.
TeachMeets are not built to promote one person or another, the reason we started TeachMeets was to empower teachers to take control over their own pl, personalized pln. I am pleased to say, WA has hosted nearly 50 TMWA events of which most are to sold out crowds, have so many Twitter followers and Facebook group members, many organic relationships have formed as a result of TMWA.
TMWA core drivers at this stage are Maree Whiteley, Gabrielle Trinca and I but I am sure as we go through the journey this may change and there may be new drivers. TMWA is not reliant on one or the other. You all own it, you can all run with it. TMWA is compared to the starfish model in comparison to the spider model. It is self sustainable. You are all TMWA.
So I don’t know if I actually answered that question but I hope I’ve shared my passion for it.
We are the only generation that can boast about having seen the huge transformation the world is going through at the moment. At times you feel like you’ve landed on a different planet where you are surrounded by intelligent younglings attached to handheld touch devices, they wear earphones as accessories and have a rather unique way of communicating and connecting. Their seductive worlds behind whispering touch screens are used for hangouts, coordinating virtual meetings, collaborating on passion projects with global friends, voicing their opinions or problem solving across the world. They are always online and always available in digital landscapes.
How is it even possible to effectively lead learning if we are speaking different languages, and existing in completely different worlds, and continue to alienate ourselves further and further from the future? Even though we find it a challenge to immerse ourselves into their worlds, admittedly these are exciting times to be in educational leadership.
In my professional journey, social media has been particularly beneficial for my professional practice. Global, expert or resource connections have inspired, challenged, supported and coached me over the years. My professional learning network is star studded and continues to expand as I connect with inspiring educators and educational thought leaders like Prof John Hattie, Pasi Sahelberg, Dr Ken Robinson, Prof Stephen Heppell, Ewan MacIntosh, Robert Marzano, Alec and George Couros, and home grown heroes like Stephen Harris, Tony Bryant, John Goh, Ray Boyd, Liz Smith, just to name a few. It is my virtual staffroom where I connect, communicate and collaborate with a network well beyond my reach otherwise. If Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest etc are all foreign words to you then I hope to convince you to join a few of them and see how you go.
In 2005 FaceBook brought me long lost family and friends. Few years later I discovered its potential as a platform for professional sharing, connecting people and celebrating successes. I now own a few groups and pages and have encouraged others to build their own following. I started TeachMeet WA Facebook group in 2013 and now it has ~3,300 members. I promote the idea that every school should have a FaceBook Page to make announcements, promotions and to celebrate successes, post the school’s athletic victories, spotlight student work, and promote functions like parent nights and performances. Share photographs from school events and links to local newspaper articles, videos, and resources connected to student learning. Stakeholders can access information on computers or hand held devices.
One of my personal favourites in social media is Twitter. I experienced exponential professional growth after joining Twittersphere. For the first time my professional learning was differentiated. Twitter makes it easy to post brief 140 character public, text-based messages to the Web—messages that any interested follower can see and respond to. The idea of crowdsourcing has never been so quick and easy. TeachMeet WA exisits because of Twitter. Check out @WAPLN and #TMWA and @Bhavneetsingh12. We as educational leaders, must identify how applications like Twitter can facilitate professional growth, collaboration and enhance teaching and learning programs. Digital opportunities to connect with new content and communities can accelerate learning and have so many positive benefits for student learning too.
Department of Education WA is promoting digital communIcation and collaboration and is investing in the development of Connect. It is a great starting point for the technophobes who are scared of diving in the deep end as it is a controlled environment.
Everyone including institutions needs a LinkedInprofile. Its not so much a social networking tool, but a professional networking tool. When was the last time you googled someone? Undoubtedly, you’ve been googled too. Best to leave a well thought out digital presence that acts as your CV or the face for your institution.
If you do have an online existence and you have a digital crumbs everywhere like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogposts, Flickr, Instagram, Slidshare etc, like I do then you will love About.me. It brought my entire online existence, that I wanted to share with everyone, to a single webpage profile in a simple and easy way. All I need now is the About.me link on my e-business cards or my Twitter handle.
Gazing into the crystal ball I can only say that this awesome generation of kids we educate like to work together as a team and they love challenges. Their world will be so different that they will have to be flexible life-long learners. We need to up-skill and demonstrate that we are life long-learners and we collaborate globally. For the first time we can actually do things never before possible, for and with educators across the world. We cannot rely on old roadmaps anymore because our path might be between the stars.
Everyday technology challenges us and takes us to places not possible before.
Today, I felt extremely frustrated and challenged because I knew there had to be a way to perform this task. The task was simple.
I had a Powerpoint presentation that I had created on a PC and two videos that I had edited with Moviemaker also on the PC.
All I wanted to do was take the Powerpoint across to Keynote on my ipad and embed the videos into the Keynote. Sounds simple yeah.
Forst thing I did was upload everything to Google Drive and then open presentation with with Keynote. That worked.
The issue I had was with the videos.
I started off on the wrong journey with them. I connected ipad to itunes, saved the videos to the films and they would only show in the video app. Tried Google solutions for hours to tranfer video from Videos app to Camera Roll. Arrrggghhhh!!!
Video should be saved so it can be used on the ipad
You don’t normally read that at the beginning of a document, but it’s probably the most important thing you’ll need to hear as a Host of TeachMeets! Your participants, your colleagues and, most importantly, your students will reap the benefits of your efforts in hosting a TeachMeet at your school or in your local area.
TeachMeets are gatherings of professional educators who wish to share, support and inspire each other to provide engaging learning experiences for our students. They usually run for two-three hours if held after a school day, or can be as long or short as you like according to your circumstances.
We hope by reading this Host Pack you will get a better understanding of the ideas and issues you might like to consider when planning your TeachMeet. Remember: there is no set plan or specific “rules” about hosting a TeachMeet! Make yours what you want it to be!
Please don’t hesitate to contact a previous Host for your region and/or one of the TM Support crew. It’s a collegial effort to organise and run a TeachMeet – you are not alone! Good luck!
The TeachMeeWA Team (which now includes you!)
Hosting a TeachMeet: Location
Everyone who has access to a room with a projector (or even without!) can run a TeachMeet. Essentially, schools that approve the use of a classroom, meeting room, library area or other appropriate space that can hold up to (and possibly more than) 50 people are welcome to host. You could also host in a pub, local space or wherever you can get people together for a chat. Remember that there should be an interesting, welcoming environment in which to share.
Ewan McIntosh, the brain behind teachmeets in Scotland, suggests having a ‘social object’ which brings people together. This can be a beer, food, whatever gets people talking!
You should work with the TMWA Support Crew to find out which region your school fits best into. The idea is that any attendee is no more than 30 minutes from their workplace or their home when engaged in a TeachMeet in their regions.
Make sure that you provide signage around the venue so that attendees can find their way to you easily. You may like to publish these instructions on the advertising for your TeachMeet. We can help you design and publish this information.
Most attendees will drive to your location unless you suggest they don’t, so it is important to indicate where visitors are allowed to park or ways to get to your location via public transport.
A good idea is to use a Google Map embedded in your advertising to help attendees see where it’s being held.
Hosting a TeachMeet: Content and Focus
Through the Facebook group, members will often suggest topics or post options by which other members can make a selection for their preferred area of discussion. Again, this does not dictate the nature of your TeachMeet by any means, but it might help you when potential presenters offer their services so that there is some kind of central idea to the TeachMeet as a whole. Topics are broad and allow for flexibility of approach and focus by presenters.
Think about the strengths of your own practice. What ideas do you love to discuss? Is there a particular area of teaching and learning in which your school considers itself a leader? Do you have contacts with educators (and even students) who are brimming with ideas and keen to share them?
By giving presenters and attendees a broad focus, it allows everybody to target their energies in a collaborative and constructive manner. Some of the best TeachMeets have had presentations that mix pedagogical thought, educational theory and practical ideas to great effect.
If TeachMeet WA has not proposed a theme for the term, why not suggest one yourself?
And, for those courageous enough, why even have a theme? Invite people to come and share ideas over a coffee or a meal and see where the conversation goes.
Hosting a TeachMeet: Providing for your participants
Although it is meant to be an informal event, TeachMeets do work best when you provide a few key features to make the evening run smoothly. Anything to increase the conversation is welcome and here are a few ideas you might like to consider:
Nametags: Very handy. Name, School, Twitter handle or some other identifying feature will be useful so that participants can network effectively.
Gifts for speakers: Not essential, but a nice touch. Gifts can include small showbags, books and vouchers, remember it is a free event so it may not always be possible to give the gifts. Ask TMWA Support Crew to send you the template of certificates for presenters.
Food and drink: Two options here – you can either ask participants to come armed with a plate of food or a pack of biscuits or you can have your school provide all refreshments. Participants don’t expect a luxurious spread, but as we all know, a full stomach makes for happy teacher. Consider having fruit, biscuits or easily reheatable food. Drinks could be anything but water, tea and coffee are essentials. Participants are often encouraged to get up and get refreshments during presentations as well as allocated breaks.
Information: The more information you can provide about date/time/location the better. You might like to use the template provided to distribute a letter or poster to your colleague and professional learning network.
Live Broadcasts: We have successfully broadcast and recorded live events via uStream, Google Hangouts on Air, Skype etc for teachers in more remote areas and are unable to attend the face to face sessions. TeachMeetWA also has a YouTube Channel. Talk to your IT person or ask the TM Support team for logistical details.
WiFi access: Most participants will want to broadcast their experience through Twitter or access websites and other information that is referred to during the TeachMeet. Help them out by organising WiFi guest access in your school or make it clear during advertising that WiFi will not be available.
Music: You may like to have some music playing before the event and also during breaks. It adds to the atmosphere and can help focus attention as breaks are coming to an end.
Hosting a TeachMeet: Advertising
Your role as Host is to get the advertising ball rolling. If you are a whiz at publishing already, pull out all the stops to make a flyer that can be easily emailed and/or printed and put into pigeonholes of busy teachers but still catch their eye! We have been using Eventbrite for registrations and Smore online flyers besides paper ones. TMWA Support Team can give you passwords to the exisiting accounts and you can design your own or the team can help you.
Milk every contact you have to spread the word and spread it far, wide and often. Busy people will say “yes” to support you but get them to write it in their planners and actually sign up before you count them in! Tapping people on the shoulder is often more effective than yet another email in an inbox.
Use the TeachMeet website (www.teachmeet.net) and the TMWA website (www.teachmeetwa.com.au) to publicise. Use previously held teachmeet advertising examples as templates for your own. Once you’ve done this, you can use the link in emails, Twitter, Facebook or whatever other electronic means of communication you have at your disposal!
When communicating about an event for TeachMeet via Twitter, use the #TMWA hashtag if it is one supported by our network or some other form of #teachmeet related hashtag to keep the conversation – and interest – going for teachmeets!
Our Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/TeachMeetWA/ is a quick and easy way to share your event details. Remember to ask people to advertise at their staff briefings/meetings and through posters, pamphlets or emails if you have them available. Make it as easy as possible for people to pass the word on about your event.
Hosting a TeachMeet: Timing
In the two-three hours you have, there are several combinations of timing and order that you may choose to use. A basic outline is below:
4pm – participants begin to arrive
4.30pm – Introduction by the Host (that’s you!)
4.35pm – Presentations (3x 7 min + 2x 2 min)
5pm – Break (discussion and refreshments)
5.30pm – Presentations (3x 7 min + 2x 2 min)
5.55pm – Break (discussion and refreshments)
6.30pm – Official close of TeachMeet & thanks from Host
7pm – final participants leave
Please note that this is just one format of many. You will find that the logistics of each presentation may increase the time required by the presenter, thus the time for final break and/or official close of the TeachMeet may be reduced or changed depending on the type or style of the teachmeet (or the number of presenters!)
Based on experience of several hosts, you need to think about adding at least 1 minute per presentation for the presenters to introduce themselves, upload presentations, technical glitches etc.
It’s tempting to reduce the discussion breaks to fit more speakers in, but those breaks are essential for networking and sharing ideas.
TMWA & AITSL Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
Encourage presenters to inform you beforehand about what standards will be covered in their presentation.
There is no need to provide certificates unless you want to, ask attendees to keep their ticket as proof and use My Standards App to record their PL. Attendees can keep their notes or tweets etc as evidence of attendance.
Hosting a TeachMeet: Checklist
Contact TM Support to discuss the event
Confirmation of date with venue and TM Support Crew