Tuesday, 10 August 2010

TM Future? No, vive le TeachMeet Evolution

I've been reading various posts about the proposed future of TeachMeet & its events and I worry that the very act of regulating it, will cause people to shy away from a movement that I have got a tremendous amount of information, ideas & enjoyment out of.
I came across TeachMeets last year, and since then have been to 4, organised 2 & caught up on more than 3 others online. I have used ideas and implemented them into my teaching - and shared them with colleagues who have subsequently implemented them themselves!
I can't pretend to know the origins of TMs, but I know what I perceive them to be now. I perceive TeachMeets to be a refreshing alternative to formal CPD. We live and work in an increasingly informal environment, where we take learning opportunities when they arrive, rather than following prescribed textbook activities - at least most of us, anyway.
Over the last few years, CPD has changed for teachers in schools in the UK. With the inclusion of PPA time, schools simply haven't been able to afford to send teachers on as many courses as they used to - and teachers feel hesitant about losing their PPA time to go. This presents a quandary that TeachMeet offers a solution to. Could schools club together to utilise each other's existing resources? Could teachers share experiences in a way that is mutually beneficial and, most importantly, non-threatening? The very format of TMs is a fantastic model for staff meetings & insets (or even assess & review days).
Obviously, then, I was a bit worried when I read that:

Organising TeachMeets should not be easy.

Why? If it is to be organised by teachers - who already have tremendous amounts of work thrust upon them, why make it hard to organise? Isn't this just another elitist restriction to ensure the purity of the TeachMeet Brand?
I suggest an alternative. A TeachMeet Evolution. Rather than creating a Limited Company who would oversee the events & structure it - therefore potentially restricting the content & organisation of individual teachmeets (say those that are rough & ready or extremely informal), I suggest looking at the component parts of the TeachMeets - specfically the way in which it is organised - for teachers & by teachers; random presentation selections; inclusion of free & accessible techs; social as well as informative; informal; specific; useable talks.
I think that these components should be transferrable. Let's face it, TeachMeet doesn't fit the general masses in regards to CPD. It is embraced by those who want to challenge themselves, or push the boundaries. Surely the Evolution would be by allowing these adventurers to take the model and force it to evolve to fit the needs of the people around them, rather than forcing the people around them to evolve to the needs of the TeachMeet Hegemony.
This would allow a real polychotomy adding strength in depth to an amazingly unique and effective idea plus it would actually reach the teachers who wouldn't necessarily turn up to the existing TeachMeet setup.
Now before I end, I want to add that I fully believe in the premise of TeachMeets, but I worry that if it is regulated, it will lose it's appeal and its charm.

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