Iesha Small

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The death of teachmeets?

Teach meets started as an informal gathering of teachers, hoping to share ideas and learn from each other. They we free and informal and for teachers, by teachers. Some presentations were good, some were bad, some useful some less so but they were democratic and practitioner- led. They were the antidote to conferences and courses that cost £100s of pounds ( themselves and in cover) often led by people whose job it seems at times it to make money from our educational system.

Teachers wanted to listen to professionals who still taught and who taught kids like ours. In schools like ours. With timetables like ours. We were tired of hearing the latest eduguru tell us stuff that wasn’t directly applicable in our classrooms. We were tired of going to conferences and hearing the same key- note speakers put minutely different spins on the same message. We were tired of missing our classes to go on courses that didn’t really impact our teaching.

The first time I went to a TM it was a breath of fresh air, teachers who had given up heir personal time to develop professionally, you could feel the energy and good will in the room. I felt invigorated but even then I noticed some signs that the honey moon couldn’t last. A few presentations were barely masked pitches for educational services. Commercial companies had caught wind of teach meets and seen it as a new way to market. Some we probably worried that teachers would stop going to traditional paid for conferences and decided to jump on the teach meet bandwagon.

Now I wonder if we as a profession are allowing teach meets to become the very things that we railed against? As a causal and fairly novice observer (attender of 2 teachmeets and observer pf others via Twitter) some TMs are starting to look depressingly the same, the same star presenters, often superbloggers plugging their forthcoming books, the same keynote speakers ( now starting to migrate from the laid for conference circuit) and in some cases even the same audiences.

Today I note that Osiris, an educational course provider has, out of the goodness of its heart supposedly started a website where people can

This isn’t what the revolution was meant to be? Was it?


    • iesha

      3rd April 2013 at 8:10 pm → Reply

      Hi Ross,

      Wondered why I’d got so many hits! You are something of a hub. A Heathrow of Teacher Blogosphere if you will. Saw the evidence on your blog. Well done for spotting it and letting ppl know.

  • Fearghal Kelly

    19th March 2013 at 6:05 pm → Reply

    Interesting post. I agree with many of your concerns. But, I don’t think it’s the death…TeachMeet is owned by the community and if we don’t like what it has become, we should feel empowered to organise the events we feel should be organised.

    I’ve been trying recently to try and bring TeachMeets back to their dialogue based roots and continue to work to encourage new participants to join in and have more practicing teachers feel able to share their practice.

    You can see more on this here:
    My first of these events:
    A new event for this year:

    There have been other attempts driven by similar motives also such as TM365:

    • iesha

      3rd April 2013 at 8:03 pm → Reply

      I don’t think it’s the death. Just voicing some concerns that I think we should consider. It’s always good to be vigilant and they are still relatively new in the eyes of many teachers so it would be good for them to stay around for a while.

  • David McQueen

    19th March 2013 at 6:21 pm → Reply

    That’s a real shame that it seems to go that way. I think I learn as much as I have gained from teach meets and met some incredibly smart teachers. I love to share what we have learned as external educators both from students and teachers and whilst yes it doesn’t half hurt to be on a stage and people enquire what I do in schools my primary aim is to share our learnings in a free, encouraging and supportive enivronment. I don’t think teach meets are dead but if it does become commercialised I for one would happily back out from the space as a presenter so that teachers and existing teachers alone can do their thing. Happy just to observe.

  • davestacey

    19th March 2013 at 6:43 pm → Reply

    Completely agree with the first bit, not so sure about the second bit. I’ve been to a few in my time and where there have been keynotes (and these are still pretty rare) they have always been people from the chalk face reflecting on what they’ve been up to.

    The strength of Teachmeets is that they’ve never been tied down – people have been free to take the idea and mould it into what works for them. Last year I did 2 in one week – one of the biggest in the country with keynotes, workshops besides the usual 7 and 2 minute presentations, and the other was 12 people in a school library. Both great CPD.

    I do think we need to be mindful, especially at the bigger events to point out that there isn’t a single template for TMs. We also need to be mindful of companies muscling in – in the old days there was a camel that was thrown at anyone the audience felt were selling something. The danger is that openness and flexibility tries to get leveraged by some company that takes it away from the spirit of the original.

    Thanks for the post – expect you might get a bit more discussion below the line. I’m off to Google Osiris now, and maybe aim a large online camel in their direction.

    • iesha

      3rd April 2013 at 8:06 pm → Reply

      Thanks for comment. 2nd bit aimed at some events calling / marketing themselves as Teachmeets which actually are more correctly conferences which are to some extent high jacking the Teachmeet name. I think flexibility is good . Things need to evolve into what teachers feel they need to improve their practice and improve outcomes for students.

  • Kathryn Evans

    20th March 2013 at 11:33 am → Reply

    I was at Essex Teach Meet the other day and presented. I only go to the Essex ones and I did the BETT one. We got 2 sales pitches – one on the way in by one of the school enterprise groups, one as a presentation by another school enterprise group, both about educational software they have created and are selling successfully. There were “star bloggers” there but they were all teachers. We even had a celebrity teacher there (although last time we had 2!), but again they are both working head teachers (Simon Drew & Vic Goddard from Educating Essex).

    I still felt the breath of fresh air and hope I was contributing to it.

  • D.A Lascelles

    20th March 2013 at 11:50 am → Reply

    This is quite shocking and I am annoyed that I had never even heard of these until today. To be honest, my experience of CPD has mainly been very teacher led. I’ve not yet seen a professional one, mostly they have been either locally run (all the teachers in a department get together after school and one of them does a presentation on what they have been doing) or a group of schools will get together to run a day on one of their premises. Its all been very informal and relaxed.

    Closest I have really ever got to a ‘professional’ training session was one of the agencies I work with putting on short sessions to cover things they feel their workers need to know (for example, the latest Ofsted requirements). These were done as professional training but they were free and also free of any form of advertising. They were also very similar to the informal ones in the way they involved a lot of discussion between the attendees.

    It alarms me that there seem to be more and more professional companies weighing in with this training. Only yesterday a friend of mine (who is a professional counsellor) was complaining on facebook about a training course she had been on. From the sounds of it, it was very didactic. I commented that someone with a teaching qual could almost certainly do a better job of it than that company seems to have done and yet you seem to get paid a lot more per hour for that than you do as a teacher in a state school… fact is, those of us in the profession are not only the best placed to talk about our own experiences in the field but are also in possession of the right skills with which to pass them on. Yet we are underpaid, working with reduced resources and larger class sizes and there are many teachers forced to scrape a living through supply work rather than full time work.

    I’ll stop ranting now and leave you with one question… does anyone out there have any ideas as to a solution to this issue?

  • auntiecod

    20th March 2013 at 11:57 am → Reply

    The marketisation of education means that all knowledge now has a market value. This means that even sharing knowledge between teachers or professionals in any context means that what you share can be taken and used for commercial purposes – even if it means raising your status and recruiting powers against a rival school. The whole concept of collaboration, at any level, has been overridden by the market and all so called ‘sharing’ is at best a sharing of the tricks that will keep us on top of the measures that keep us in the market (ie how to raise results, pass inspections , look good on a web site etc), am activity that makes us all vulnerable. I know the reality isn’t quite this depressing – but not far off….

  • Ignore the #DfE: Teachers are doing it for themselves! by @TeacherToolkit | @ TeacherToolkit

    31st March 2013 at 12:02 pm → Reply

    […] It is only a matter of time before the other 95% of teachers (not on Twitter) across the UK, eventually sign up to Twitter for professional purposes and ultimately attend their first TeachMeet. No doubt the DfE and the National College will soon follow suit by curating their own version of TeachMeets… If that happens, we need to be part of the process or TeachMeets will become commercialised and they will die a death! […]

  • Ignore the DfE: Teachers are doing it for themselves! | Labour Teachers

    29th April 2014 at 8:32 pm → Reply

    […] It is only a matter of time before the other 95% of teachers (not on Twitter) across the UK, eventually sign up to Twitter for professional purposes and ultimately attend their first TeachMeet. No doubt the DfE and the National College will soon follow suit by curating their own version of TeachMeets… If that happens, we need to be part of the process or TeachMeets will become commercialised and they will die a death! […]

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The death of teachmeets?