Monday, December 12, 2011

Teachmeets @BETT 2012 - Get Involved!

What follows is a close relation to a blog post I wrote about a year ago. Most of it still applies, but there are some notable changes...
Pre-Teachmeet @BETT 2011
For the past few years, Teachmeet has been a highlight of the BETT Show for many people – with many even choosing to come on the Friday of the show as they know that they’ll get something new, innovative, fun - or all three - to take away. People have previously even timed their journeys from the other side of the world to attend a Teachmeet. Teachmeets aren’t only for big conferences or exhibitions of course – a cursory look at the Teachmeet site shows them appearing in all sorts of contexts, all over the UK and even abroad.

A last Olympian hurrah for Teachmeet @BETT

Due to the nature of BETT - a four day exhibition/trade fair with 700 exhibitors, its more than 30,000 attendees making it more than twice the size of NECC /ISTE in the US, there's a sense of enormous cabin fever or Lost In Space which arises from being there for more than a few hours. Such an environment means that there are more than a few issues faced by a Teachmeet set at BETT. For a start, a Teachmeet is about sharing practice – classroom practice, work being done with learners now – rather than theoretical “in the future there will be robots” presentations or sales pitches. This will be the last BETT show in the halls at Olympia, so next year will be a learning curve for anyone involved in running a Teachmeet at the show.
BETT 2009 Tiltshifted
Interestingly, this year's BETT is due to be opened by the Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath - personally speaking I won't be there on the Wednesday for this auspicious / idiosyncratic / surreal moment, but if you're attending BETT in any capacity then at all other times there will be plenty of opportunity for you to see and hear from people with experience of teaching, rather than those who set policy for those who do the work - and to share what you're doing if you'd like to.
TeachMeet at BETT 2011 panorama from the front
It's possible that there will be fewer teachers attending BETT 2012 – even though entrance to the exhibition is free, it's easy to imagine many school leaders being less willing to release staff to browse an exhibition whose lifeblood of dedicated funding has been stemmed. So could this mean a Teachmeet devolved of practice and practitioners? Well I for one hope not-TeachMeets aren't about sales pitches, and there are enough of those on the floor of Olympia for the four days of BETT. Of course, if you're more than a little cunning you could see some real practice by attending one of the TeachMeet Takeover sessions - read Ian Addison's blog post on that here.
Once again we'll be using the Eventbrite service to manage 'tickets' for the Friday night Teachmeet session and releasing those tickets in three batches:
  • teachers/LA/RBC consultants (those who are employed and work directly in schools on a full-time basis);
  • independent consultants (those who work in schools subject to contracts etc);
  • exhibitors (those who'll be at BETT and are salaried by a commercial company).
The reason for releasing the 'teacher' tickets first is that current classroom practice is the lifeblood of any good Teachmeet - and so ensuring that there are as many teachers and current practitioners as possible maximises the chance of everyone hearing about Good Things Happening Now. Of course consultants can talk about all sorts of great practice too, but getting your fellow teachers to present means that it's (more?) likely something will be replicable in your classroom just as it was in theirs. That doesn't mean that the other tickets are second class, or even third, but ensures that the balance is more likely to be right so that everyone sees what's happening now.

Get involved!

As ever, we'll be looking for sponsors (beyond EMAP's sponsorship of the room and AV/ICT support) to cover wifi access for attendees, an extra half hour of security so we don't all get booted out at the end, and some refreshments... information on how any generous sponsors can help out will be put on the wiki page. In the meantime, why not

  • read the TeachMeet @BETT 2012 page on the TeachMeet wiki;
  • sign up now if you're a teacher or LA/RBC consultant - and soon if you're an independent consultant or exhibitor - via the Eventbrite page;
  • consider presenting - either a seven minute micropresentation or a two minute nanopresentation - or if you are at BETT but can't be there on the Friday night, consider contributing a presentation to the Teachmeet Takeover.
  • There is normally a TeachEat event at Pizza Express in Olympia afterwards, to which you're welcome if you attend the Teachmeet - details on the wiki page.
Whatever your involvement - get stuck in if you can. TeachMeet is about sharing practice and, in the current climate, it must be more relevant than ever. Right?