I’ve been hearing about TeachMeet for a while now on Twitter. With all the buzz around the idea of unconference, I thought it was about time I went to one. I’m happy to report that this time ’round, curiosity did not kill the cat. On the contrary, curiosity brought lots (and I mean LOTS) of opportunities to learn…and it began even before I got there thanks to @townesy77, a colleague at work, who inspired me to collaborate on a joint presentation. So not only was I going, I was presenting as well. Madness (in my opinion).
Collaborating with @townesy77 is a story in itself but suffice it to say that we had FUN creating a pecha-kucha (my first – oh yes, this was indeed an afternoon of firsts for me!). I learned how to create a pecha-kucha (20 slides each running at 20 seconds each), find Creative Commons images via Compfight and present one. It’s amazing really how 20 seconds can seem so long and so short depending on what I’m talking about. 😉
Of course, the beauty of TeachMeet itself is connecting and chatting with other educators. At this one, I met Twitter friends like @EduSum (even better in person so truly awesome), @FionaR_B (friendly and generous), @cpaterso (fantastic host and emcee), @karlao_dtn (not at all dramatic) and @whartonag (enthusiasm personified). And friends I’ve met before like @plu (got me into Twitter and blogosphere, owe this guy big-time; can only pay forward) and @rolfek (a welcoming familiar face when I first got there). I also met new Twitter friends like @7MrsJames (passionate educator), @sarah_bowman (pre-service teacher and already out there teachmeet-ing and presenting as well) and @poska (exudes much happiness). I wish I met more including @henriettaMi, @betchaboy and @mylescarrick to name a few. Maybe I should have gone to TeachEat after all (maybe next time!).
It would be very difficult (impossible really) to walk away with nothing going to a TeachMeet. It is, in fact, rather amazing that presentations as short as 2 minutes can be challenging – think zone of proximal development here. Here are just some of my takeaways:
- Re-think meetings. They don’t have to be all about administrivia and curricula and programs. Why not a book club session?
- Try programming with kids. Use Scratch.
- Welcome conflict in teams. Sure it needs resolution but conflict are opportunities for learning and growth.
- Middle schoolers have special needs as they transition from primary school.
- FLIP lessons: F for flexible. L for learner-led. I for in-time intervention. P for personalized
So there you have it, at least 3 reasons to go and I haven’t even mentioned FUN (doesn’t start with a C). Don’t worry if you’ve missed this great one, apparently there’s plenty more and perhaps at a location near you. Just check out the TMSydney wiki. And if you’re reading this outside of Sydney, beyond Australia even, know that TeachMeets are popping up everywhere. It is definitely in the UK where it started thanks to Ewan McIntosh (@ewanmcintosh). There must be some in the US as well and other parts of the world (I don’t know the contacts – I’m new at this, remember? so if you can help spread the word…need I say more?)
To all who shared my first #tmsydney experience, thank you. You are now part of my story. And it’s only just begun really. Isn’t that exciting!