Unconferencing again: TeachMeets

More on UnConferencing: UnConferencing meets Teacher Professional Development

In the posts on MirandaNet about the axing of BECTA one of the contributors, Leon Cych posted this comment:

I’d much rather see teachers who have developed “open” expertise, sharing it with each other at a social event in a transparent way, rather than traditional models of training. If someone has found an innovative and useful way of working with software or hardware then they often develop a highly developed generic expertise and forge new pedagogies round that and often ways in which it has not been thought of by the software companies themselves. TeachMeets are rapidly becoming seed beds for grass root talents sharing and disseminating 21st Century skills.
I have seen this time and time again at TeachMeets (teachmeet.pbworks.com) and that model is finally beginning to catch on.

From the TeachMeet site:

What are the tried and tested structures from Teachmeets?

  • 7 minute short presentation (sometimes 2 or 3 lined up)
  • 2 minute nano presentation (3-5 one after the other)
  • Break out sessions (@SLF 4 speakers took up 4 different locations, participants chose to listen to who they like)
  • Random speakers – Classtools fruit machine.

And this, from teachmeet.pbworks.com/Organise

TeachMeet is an unconference, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need organising. Early on, get a small group together to get everything sorted out for your event

. . . . and some structure/rules:

Some rules might be: no PowerPoints, micro-presentations must last no more than seven minutes, nano presentations no more than two, no selling of products, everything must be happening in a classroom now.

We all know the best parts of conferences are, of course, the coffee breaks and social events, where you get a chance to pore over someone’s laptop for 15 minutes and learn one new really cool thing you can actually use, have late-night discussions over serious stuff, helped along by a few drops of amber. Why not just make this the conference itself? Provide coffee and tea all day long, lots of muffins and biscuits

In other words, PD by the people for the people, what’s happening now, presented by the people doing it. A great structure for an UnConference.

A final comment from Leon:

“Training” is a bit of a cul-de-sac, or rather a one way street, in my opinion. It is a single function or pathway to doing things. Much better develop an independent mindset that can think and route around what resources are available rather than going down a proprietorial route.

A way ahead maybe?  Effectiveness, lower cost – and fun.

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