Alongside Twitter, TeachMeets have become the most important development in CPD for teachers so far in the 21st century. I have been to a number of these events and found them always great fun providing a brilliant platform to meet educators and to share ideas which can be applied almost immediately in lessons. Bloomsbury Publishing held their first TeachMeet and I was more than happy to attend and support the event with a 5 minute presentation called Active Revision Strategies – Quick Wins for Maximum Progress. Much of this was taken from my book 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers – Revision with the aim of sharing some effective ideas which could be applied in lessons immediately and with limited preparation. Although, I most definitely over prepared for this (having a few more ideas in the back pocket) I thoroughly enjoyed giving the presentation in such a positive atmosphere.
I found myself in brilliant company with a whole range educators, ranging from teachers to speakers and poets. All of this was held together by Stephen Lockyer, the host of the event and the first presenter. Stephen did a fine job in introducing the event as well as conducting a number of competitions to get everyone talking and engaging in the spirit of the TeachMeet. The highlight here was the plasticine competition where you had a make a model of an object that represented a curriculum subject. My effort of making an axe and chopping block represented not only my own specialist subject but also the limits of my practical skills. A plasticine brain was a worthy winner of this particular competition.
Stephen’s presentation was an excellent development from his book 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers – Outstanding Teaching with an additional 10 ideas which could be added to his book. All of them were quick wins and can be applied in lessons with minimal preparation promoting engagement and progress. A particular favourite idea was to encourage students to design mini logos at the bottom of each page in their exercise books which represented the topic and work undertaken.
Perhaps the most inspirational presentation was James Hilton’s on managing stress in teaching. It is a thorny and delicate subject especially in times when teaching is so challenging and many are leaving, or considering to leave, the profession. Drawing on theory, analogies and personal experiences, James created a thought-provoking insight into managing stress. I was struck by his openness about the subject, especially as I had suffered by a stress-related illness early on in my career when I contracted Bell’s Palsy in the middle of a school day. I learned much from this experience, but I could never have been so open as James was in his talk. Fantastic.
Other presentations included Kayleigh Betterton’s talk on using antiquarian books in schools – loved the passion which oozed from every vignette – and Jen Hart’s presentation on making knowledge stick – rooted in complex theory made accessible and with practical applications which could be used by all teachers. We also had the treat of two performances by poets – A. F. Harrold and Joshua Seigal – who gave warm and engaging performances of their work and reminded us why we were in a profession which makes such a difference to so many. There was also the bonus of a virtual presentation by Sarah Findlater on marking and feedback strategies via a recorded PowerPoint file, such a generous resource full of ideas made during such a busy time of the year for school leaders.
All of this in the classy setting of Bloomsbury’s conservatory! It was a brilliant evening and huge thanks must go to Laura Givans and Isobel Doster for putting this all together – a mammoth task! A particularly nice touch was the goody bag given to all attendees at the end of the evening. I am already looking forward to attending the next Bloomsbury TeachMeet!