Since the original posts were put up, and the initial gut reaction that I put on Ewan’s post on the 24th, I have been reading posts and thinking abut them quite a bit. I think that many people have gone over the finer parts of the post, I have therefore tried to pitch this more generally. I know that TeachMeet has much more of a history than I have with it, reading Iain Hallahan’s blog post, it seems I have come across TM very late – and I am very jealous of those who have been with it since the beginning! Here is a short history of how I came across it!
I have been on Twitter for ages, and after a while found a fantastic group of teachers – it was at that point that I started to see reference to TM. I loved the concept of teachers talking to teachers about great stuff that they do in the classroom, and it was at the start of November that I put a comment on the Teach Meet home page offering the Scholastic stand at BETT for TeachMeet Takeover. After Tom Barrett wrote his post on it, I followed up with one of my own to answer some of the questions about commercialism.
I have to say that TeachMeet Takeover was wonderful for me. It added a huge amount to BETT, and I really hope that people thought that the stands behaved themselves (I do!). The interaction that teachers had with each other, and how the chemistry on stand changed when there was a Takeover made it the best BETT so far. I met some really lovely people that I had been speaking to on Twitter, and strengthened some friendships. It also really made me rethink the way that I do exhibitions. We used to broadcast, now I am hoping we can engage.
As a result of all of this, I have been a great evangelist for TeachMeet, any teacher that I talk to I mention it (and if only to answer the saturation point, by far the majority of them haven’t heard of it before). I have then gone on to sponsor three more TMs, TeachMeet Hampshire, TeachMeet Blackpool and TeachMeet East with offers open to more. These sponsorships are not for me to go to the events and flog my wares, they are great for me to meet teachers and talk to them about what excites them in the classroom. Don’t get me wrong, it puts Scholastic in a good light as well, but isn’t that the point of any sponsorship?
The point in the above? TeachMeet can change the way you think, I have seen the change in people who have been to a TeachMeet for the first time and they not just willing to listen but will actively go and seek new ideas. It has changed me, by far for the better and again I thank you.
As the people who posted the original comments will know, a lot of the thoughts that were posted are shared with some of the sponsors. Anything that makes it easier to run a TeachMeet is needed; the people running these events are incredibly busy people, and not all specialists in event organisation or marketing. Therefore any help with any aspects of the above would be useful – templated emails or flyers would be hugely helpful. A user friendly website which allows for easy sign up for attendees is essential as is advice for setting up bank-accounts. To be honest, the people best to answer what is needed for the organisers, are the organisers, and I believe they have done so in their own posts and blog comments.
I would add a note of caution. I am not sure how extreme it is considered the centralisation should be, but the merest hint can sometimes have unexpected consequences. I would say from a lot of experience that allowing people to have ownership and control over what they will consider to be ‘their event’ will make it a better, more vibrant, more energetic event. If they think that there is some figure at a notional ‘head-office’ that will be looking over their shoulder will more than likely add restraint and caution – and as soon as you do that you have lost the essence you were trying to capture in the first place. People will know if things have gone too far in commercialism, or the hosting and will self-moderate. There is already a tremendous support network who will nudge if something looks wrong, and will do so in their own lovely way!
One of my biggest concerns about the proposal – if I read it right, is that all sponsorship will go into one pot, some of which will go toward UK TeachMeets, and more to international events. It may be that the decision is taken to take on a sponsor such as TED did with Cisco, in which case a lot of what I have said will be largely irrelevant, but will that really be a boost to the aims and goals of TeachMeet? I would argue not.