How TeachMeet is revolutionising CPD for teachers

For many teachers, CPD training can be an exercise in box-ticking. Schools can no longer afford to invite expensive consultants in to provide teacher training sessions, so opt to train their staff in-house instead; but CPD in schools is often passive, unengaging and lacking in relevancy. The solution? A revolutionary type of professional development for teachers that’s practical, effective and motivational. It goes by the name of TeachMeet. 

The rise of the unconference
TeachMeet sessions are unorthodox in their structure. Although they are planned events, they are organised by teachers, for teachers, shunning the hierarchy of traditional conferences. During TeachMeet events, individuals from all backgrounds and experience levels get to exchange ideas with their peers in what has been dubbed an ‘unconference’ setting. Participant-driven and spontaneous, these informal TeachMeet gatherings cater to delegates’ needs and interests, covering whichever topics arise on the day. Speakers have the opportunity to talk for a fixed length of time, conveying their ideas in 2-minute nano-presentations or longer micro-presentations. The sessions are co-operative and collaborative with focused discussion built in, offering teachers an unrivalled opportunity to share good practice and ideas.

The first TeachMeet gathering happened back in 2006, coinciding with the rise of networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and online TED talks. Built on a similar philosophy to the social media it grew up with, it’s a DIY movement that thrives on networking and collaboration. Free TeachMeet events are organised and publicised via the TeachMeet website, a wiki that can be edited by anyone with an account.

The rise of the unconference

TeachMeet sessions are unorthodox in their structure. Although they are planned events, they are organised by teachers, for teachers, shunning the hierarchy of traditional conferences. During TeachMeet events, individuals from all backgrounds and experience levels get to exchange ideas with their peers in what has been dubbed an ‘unconference’ setting. Participant-driven and spontaneous, these informal TeachMeet gatherings cater to delegates’ needs and interests, covering whichever topics arise on the day. Speakers have the opportunity to talk for a fixed length of time, conveying their ideas in 2-minute nano-presentations or longer micro-presentations. The sessions are co-operative and collaborative with focused discussion built in, offering teachers an unrivalled opportunity to share good practice and ideas.

The first TeachMeet gathering happened back in 2006, coinciding with the rise of networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and online TED talks. Built on a similar philosophy to the social media it grew up with, it’s a DIY movement that thrives on networking and collaboration. Free TeachMeet events are organised and publicised via the TeachMeet website, a wiki that can be edited by anyone with an account.

Active, not passive

CPD for teachers is often a passive experience which doesn’t offer much opportunity for two-way dialogue. As we know from teaching children and young people, however, a traditional, lecture-style session is rarely the most effective form of learning for pupils. TeachMeet offers a more active forum where colleagues can meet, brainstorm and exchange ideas more democratically. In a profession where contact with peers is limited (because most teachers spend most of the day alone with their students), these sessions provide a much-needed opportunity to connect. The concept of TeachMeet also empowers teachers to take action; if there’s an issue that requires attention, they can arrange a TeachMeet and initiate change.

A source of inspiration

Teaching is a profession that thrives on inspiration. When a fired-up educator imparts their knowledge, their passion is contagious; jaded teachers just can’t convey the same enthusiasm for learning as those with a fire in their bellies. While traditional CPD sessions may not always provide the requisite motivation, TeachMeet sessions have galvanised many teachers into a renewed passion for their profession. Picking up simple and practical teaching techniques, forging new professional connections and regaining a sense of power and agency, teachers of all stripes continue to find TeachMeet a welcome source of inspiration and motivation.

Effective networking

What many teachers really want from their CPD sessions is the chance to meet others, bounce ideas off likeminded professionals, and create new connections. TeachMeet is the perfect environment to do all of these things. Because of the amount of time dedicated to meaningful group discussions, teachers get the chance to build up a professional network of contacts in education for support, motivation and inspiration. At some events, networking opportunities aren’t just limited to meeting with other teachers: there’s also the potential to forge valuable links with professionals from museums, sports and the arts.

Changing the face of CPD for teachers

Does TeachMeet represent the future of CPD training for teachers? It certainly isn’t going anywhere; today, more TeachMeet events than ever before are organised every month, worldwide. And while formal CPD for teachers still has a place, the TeachMeet philosophy is influencing the way even traditional teacher training is carried out, with many CPD courses now incorporating a more collaborative style. From CPD courses for primary teachers, to specialist subject meet-ups, TeachMeet’s influence is everywhere. For schools, it’s a win-win situation: teachers are more motivated, new innovations are set up, and costs are kept low through the use of sponsors.

Looking to the future, it’s likely that the TeachMeet approach will become even more mainstream, offering educators everywhere the opportunity to collaborate – whether that’s face-to-face or online. Internet communities like Pedagoo are one example of the TeachMeet effect, offering collaborative opportunities in the same kind of spirit that TeachMeet provides in person. Teacher-led research group ResearchED also aims to bring professionals together to foster new connections and collaborate. Pooling talent and ideas is empowering and can achieve amazing results; in a post-TeachMeet age, the future of CPD looks a lot more inspiring than the box-ticking of the past.

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