This is the fourth of six posts reflecting upon the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Conference held at Berkhamsted School. This brief post will focus on the ‘pre-event’.
In my experience, there are two types of TeachMeet: those that have a local feel and those before big events that have a strange ‘out-of-body’ feel. Happily, the TeachMeet held the evening before #TLAB13 was of the former variety. The event had a few elements common to #TMPompey that meant I came away with actual ideas that could be used in the classroom the following day. These elements were:
- Hardly any tech only talks. Both featured simple ideas linked to assessment and feedback and marking. Many speakers didn’t even use the computers (only three at the pre #TLAB13 event). This was really refreshing as the talks were focused on pedagogy rather than larger ideas that were product reliant. The ideas could be (and have been) implemented without any technology or training or by doing anything radically different.
- I’d estimate that around 70-80% of the speakers hadn’t been to, let alone spoken at, a TeachMeet before. This made for a really great atmosphere. Of course, there weren’t any lasers but that was made up with some good quality ale .
In general terms, these two events together have reignited my belief in the small, local, TeachMeet format. Personally, I don’t care about the ‘format’ or the ‘rules’ that many say TeachMeets should have. It’s not, as far as I know, a ‘trademarked’ or ‘copyrighted’ format that one has to subscribe to a set format, and hacking the format is required. As long as teachers get together to informally talk about pedagogy then does it matter?
What I do think is that the localised TeachMeet format is more sustainable as it is more likely to build up local face-to-face networks. Yes, Twitter is great. Or at least the people on Twitter are, but in my mind there’s still no replacement for sharing ideas with those that share your local context.