TeachMeet Glasgow (unplugged) takes place at West Brewery, Glasgow Green on Thursday 12th May from 6-8pm, and the venue hire is very kindly being sponsored by SCEL (Scottish College of Educational Leadership).
I’d never been to a TeachMeet before until a couple of years a go. I’d watched from afar, even signed up a couple of times, but never actually gone along. What would I share? Would anyone think it was any good? But I don’t know anyone. And so on… Which inevitably resulted in non-attendance. Every time. So what changed? Why have I taken it upon myself to organise one for the first time, and what’s with the ‘unplugged’ bit?
1) Twitter happened
After many years of lurking, I started interacting with Twitter properly, joining live hashtag chats such as #primaryrocks, #classdojoEU and following the Friday positive sharefest that is #pedagoofriday. I discovered wonderful people sharing resources and ideas and discussion. And a few nutters along the way too. Ultimately, I found myself helping to promote and steer the #ScotEdChat, dedicated to a Scottish focused educational debate. It is still very much a work in progress, but it has managed to bring together a wide variety of people together in discussion from all sectors of Scottish education.
2) Time out happened
About the same time I began a secondment with Education Scotland as a Development Officer in Social Studies. After many enjoyable years at the chalkface as a primary teacher I had a new job with a second mobile phone, a stack of business cards and nae bairns! It was strange at first and my body clock never quite adjusted to the lack of bells at break and lunch, or being able to drink a whole mug of tea in one go. During my time with Education Scotland I was lucky to meet bucket loads of inspirational educators and had the privilege to visit lots of schools across the country. My perspective on my role as a teacher and of my profession was completely transformed. I realised how much I had needed that change and the challenge. Looking back, what I loved (and miss) the most was the time to think and reflect. I was energised with creative ideas and plans, with the luxury of time and a diversity of people to share and discuss them with.
3) The 4 Digi-Musketeers happened
I was also really lucky to finally cross paths with people I had admired professionally from a distance. Ian Stuart, John Sexton, John Johnston and Con Morris all have an insatiable appetite for this enlightened science we call teaching. They were provocative, encouraging, thoughtful and fun to be around. But it wasn’t just me. They were like that with everyone. I learnt much about the true nature of teacher leadership and selfless acts of pedagogical kindness from working with them. There was also other stuff about purple capes, endless gif making, bribery with Tunnock’s teacakes and Scotch pies in a bap for lunch…
4) Informal spaces in-between the cracks
A TeachMeet can help provide the potential for informal, undefined spaces to learn. They are only as good as the uptake and participation. So far there has been a fantastic response to TeachMeet Glasgow (unplugged) but there is always room for more. Most of us have never met each other, yet there is a clearly a common desire to find a different space to share ideas, discuss and happily promote our profession outside of the normative school hours. With a beer in hand. Or even just a mug of tea.
5) Teacher leadership
Teacher leadership is the essence of TeachMeet. As someone who was gutted to just miss out on the Chartered Teacher qualification I was inspired by Fearghal Kelly’s recent twilight input about SCEL’s new Teacher Leadership Framework.
Teacher leaders are passionate about learning and teaching. They are ambitious for the success of children and young people and in their pursuit and delivery of diverse and creative pedagogy.
Through informed and innovative practice, close scrutiny of pupils’ learning needs and high expectations teacher leaders play a fundamental role in improving outcomes for children and young people. Teacher leaders are effective communicators who collaborate with colleagues, demonstrate integrity and have a positive impact on their school community. They are able to develop and sustain high‐quality relationships with children and young people, parents and carers, colleagues and external partners. They self‐evaluate regularly and instinctively, and they demonstrate accomplished and developing skills in critical reflection, inquiry, the use of research, pedagogy, and leadership.
I doubt I manage to accomplish all of that all of the time, but the intent and ambition is infectious. Why wait till applying for management positions? Start your leadership journey now! Direct from the classroom. Share ideas, resources, time, enthusiasm. Make new links, discover, explore and wonder. But don’t just drink beer from the back of the hall. Come forward. Be brave. Be bold and speak up. We are all teaching professionals. We all have experiences, wisdom and daft stories to share. We are all in it together. I know I wish I’d been braver and bolder years a go.
6) So, why ‘unplugged?’
I’m a massive Nirvana fan and that’s their best album. Seriously.
Also, I saw this picture of a recent TeachMeet in London, with microphone headsets etc. and I didn’t want the tech to overpower the talk.
We may be talking about ‘the tech’ but can we challenge ourselves not to hide in front of our PPT slides, tablets and media? The face to face interaction bit is crucial.
Also, we need more people to take up the mantle of organising informal teacher events, whether they be TeachMeets, Pedagoos or something else. These can be in pubs, coffee shops, schools or someone’s living room. I’m not sure the example of large chat show style events with TV production values are really within everyone’s grasp.
But that’s just my opinion. There really are no rules. Please come along, you’d be very welcome. Follow this link to sign up: https://tmscot.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/teachmeet-glasgow/