Embracing the Spirit of Teachmeet

It is probably true that, on occasion, we get carried away with ourselves a bit on Twitter. We have discovered a world here which does not exist for us anywhere else, a sort of Second Life for teaching. Because many of us are crying out for a more focused approach to Professional Development and to be part of a community of educators who want to engage with new ideas, we spend more time on Twitter than is probably good for our health and our relationships. However, while blogging and tweeting might allow us to feel that we are affecting change, the reality may be somewhat different.

Since the inception of Teachmeet a few years back there has been a slow change in delivery of professional development. Very slow. In the world of Twitter, though, you’d think it was rampant. A constant stream of Teachmeets and Teachmeet-style ‘events’ keep us informed of great things going on around the country. But, and it might just be me, when I return to school in the morning, I see little change. I don’t see the structures which might encourage changes in approach; I don’t see the hunger and craving for changes in approach. And that worries me.

Teachmeet was about teachers getting together and sharing in a very informal space. It was about teachers sharing ideas, having a voice which was equal to anyone else in the room. It was about teachers tearing down the barriers to proper discussion where they could talk about their practice in an open and helpful manner. It created an enthusiasm for learning which many had thought lost to them. I worry that that spirit is being eroded. Nowadays I see Teachmeets with huge sponsorship, with big name speakers, with prizes. I see Teachmeets for which you need tickets. Some of them even cost you. It’s Teachmeet but not as we know it.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’ve been to these events and learned loads. I’ve listened to inspirational speakers and come away with amazing ideas. However, I don’t see an event which would encourage most of the teachers I know to get up and speak; and that’s what the spirit of Teachmeet is all about. There are no egos, no sales pitches. They are about classroom practice, lead by classroom practitioners. That’s the spirit of Teachmeet and that’s the spirit we need to generate on our own schools every day. I think it is the only way we will see a mass change in approaches to Professional Development and enhanced teaching.

If we can break out of the mindset that teacher development needs to be delivered; if we can break out of the mindset that some of our teachers will never want to do it anyway; if we can break out of the mindset that things are so entrenched that they can never change; then, I thunk we can see amazing things. But it will take persistence and positivity, breaking down barriers, doors even, and it will take a lot of heartache and pain to get there. The spirit of Teachmeet, and for that matter Pedagoo, is the spirit for which I aspire in my school. It’ll be stolen away from us if we’re not careful. Let’s steal it back.

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