Last night I went to a TeachMeet. It had the smallest number of speakers, yet the most direct audience involvement of any TeachMeet I have been to. Close to two hundred people turned up to this event, themed around behaviour management, and the buzz was incredible. However, there were no big sponsors, no prizes to tempt people to turn up, and the whole thing was organised by the ‘Plymouth Education Society‘, an organisation of undergraduates with a passion for education.
From the moment I arrived in the packed lecture theatre it was clear that this was going to be an interesting event. There was standing room only, and a huge range of attendees ranging from experienced teachers to students in their first few weeks of study. Speaking to the organisers there was a tension… all these people had turned up, and not many had signed up to actually present anything.
They need not have worried, or perhaps it was the worry that forced them to innovate, either way Tasha Kent was picked to present first and blew me away. She didn’t have a slick presentation, all she did was stand up and said (paraphrasing):
“A lecturer said this to me about behaviour management, but I think there might be some problems with it ; What do you think?“
What followed was a fifteen minute question time style discussion with voices and opinions from all across the audience, experienced teachers, and students from all levels of experience, all with views and ideas to share, all with thoughts to provoke.
As I said when I was picked to present next, I felt like a bit of an imposter giving a just another lecture to them. Instead I shared some stories of my experiences of TeachMeets, and the philosophy that I think is so valuable; what is ordinary about what you do you can be inspirational to someone else- so share! I then dropped in a few thoughts about a Alfie Kohn’s book ‘Punished with rewards‘, and touchpaper suitably lit, piped down whilst the organisers chaired another session of sharing, debating and thought provoking.
I expected this student organised TeachMeet would be a success, but I didn’t expect it to break the mould, and do it so well. The room was buzzing, people were tweeting and live blogging, and the energy was fantastic. There is a community here of passionate, dedicated teachers who are taking control of their own learning and development. I can’t wait to see what they do next…