Teachers are overworked and underpaid so why would they willingly give up their evenings and flock together to discuss teaching some more? Teachers are under constant pressure to hit targets, mark books, attend meetings, parent’s evenings, twilights… Yet, the teachmeet culture continues to flourish. Why?
Choice. On the whole, teachers in attendance have chosen to give up their time. The speakers have chosen to share. The organisers have chosen the date and the attendees have chosen to turn up. Other than the time limit (used to allow as many speakers as possible a chance to speak) “the rules are there ain’t no rules” and, for most teachers, this is a breath of fresh air.
Teachmeets are the positive staffroom that we all wish existed at school. While the mood hoovers are at home, scowling into their TVs and wishing for the weekend, teachers who choose to attend are smiling together. That’s not to say you are a mood hoover if you don’t attend. There are so many teachmeets, you can take your pick or you can happily not attend any at all. Those who do attend, want to be there and that is what makes the atmosphere so special. Faces may still look tired after a long day of school but they’re smiling, laughing, socialising and sharing.
Christmas is a time for sharing and, judging by the number of Christmas themed Teachmeets that have sprung up this year, teachers have got that message loud and clear. On Saturday the 6th of December, Pedagoo is holding its annual Christmas party in Newcastle. Pedagoo is made up of positive educators, willing to share ideas beyond their own classroom. The bigger events are traditionally held on Saturday afternoons to allow as many teachers, from as far away as possible, to join in. It’s an event worth giving up your Saturday for; you have to experience it to know why.
When a teachmeet remains grassroots, teachers teaching teachers, professional dialogue, not born out of a fear of Ofsted’s arrival but born from a love of teaching, a magical atmosphere is created. The first big Pedagoo event took place in Glasgow 2012 and I was absolutely hooked by the positivity that was felt by all that day. Every event I have created since has been developed with that feeling still warm in my heart.
Whether your teachmeet is three teachers getting together to share ideas over lunch or three hundred people coming together to enjoy perfectly polished presentations, as long as attendees are there out of choice, as long as contributors are there to share educational ideas, as long as the whole thing remains about teachers teaching teachers and taking their professional development into their own hands, it’s a teachmeet. Teachers may be overworked and underpaid but that won’t stop our enthusiasm for our own learning and professional development.
Preparation is now underway for next Saturday’s event so we have closed the sign up page. If you have not got your name down but want to attend, contact me directly and I will happily add you to our numbers.