TeachMeets are an exciting model of professional development making waves in the Melbourne teaching community. A TeachMeet is an informal meeting for teachers to share and discuss their classroom practise. Another term to describe these meets is an unconference. Presenters speak for either seven or two minutes on a topic of choice that is related to classroom practice.
There is a wealth of information about TeachMeets on the official TeachMeet (Aus) site. The meetings of the Melbourne group of educators are organised via the following collaborative wiki: http://teachmeetmelbourne.wikispaces.com/
These very informal gatherings are designed to promote professional sharing, collaboration and the maintenance of professional networks. Topics of discussion focus on classroom pedagogy.
The Melbourne TeachMeets convene every month or so throughout the year. So far during 2013, #TMMelb has been hosted by the State Library Of Victoria, The Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute, Scienceworks and various schools across Melbourne. The first Teachmeet for 2013 was hosted by ICTEV and held in an inner city pub.
Teachers attending these meetings model a collaborative spirit by sharing their ideas via a Twitter stream, using the hashtag #TMMelb. People can participate in the meeting virtually simply by following the #TMMelb hashtag. A Storify summary of each meeting is often published after the event.
Last Saturday, as part of my current employment, I was privileged to be able to host the most recent Melbourne TeachMeet. The diversity and depth of experience in the room was exciting. Educators came from a variety of backgrounds such as Dan Donahoo (@ddonahoo) who has worked with Sean Elliot (@SeanMElliott) to produce an educational app called Rough Science. This nifty little app, available from iTunes supports the teaching of science as per the Australian Curriculum. Paul Kaan (@PaulKaan) shared his enthusiasm for teaching and learning and sustainability by sharing his work with The Social Larder.
Many other teaching ideas were shared. Rebecca Davies (@becdavies00) from Manor Lakes P-12 College discussed how her students organised a very successful book drive. One of my favourites from the day was a demonstration of augmented reality apps using Spacecraft 3D as an example. The group were also given a preview of a newly developed Astronomy show at the Melbourne Planetarium called “Ticket To The Universe” – which gained rave reviews, especially from attending science teachers. Celia Coffa (@ccoffa) authored a Storify report that summarises this meeting whilst Roland Gesthuizen (@rgesthuizen) constructed this second report.
By attending these self directed professional development sessions educators can benefit greatly via the telling of stories and sharing of ideas about teaching practice. Sustainable use of digital technologies in education is also often modelled or demonstrated. The attitude that shines through is also one of passion and collaboration, an outlook that is vital in the teaching profession.
The next Melbourne TeachMeet is scheduled for Saturday 20 July at Xavier College. Visit the teachmeet wiki to register your intention to attend. These meetings maintain a strict non-commercial stance and speakers should focus on contributing to the development of good classroom practice.
If you have attended a TeachMeet you are open to recording your impressions below.
PS: I am really pleased to see a BrainPop video on this topic. I introduced BrainPop to my last school over 8 years ago. Hmmm, perhaps I should write about the pros and cons of BrainPop in the science classroom? Stay tuned!