I went to my first Teachmeet last week.
For a company charging for CPD workshops, Teachmeets and social media are the biggest threat to our business model. That's why I am so excited about them!
I liked the format of the Teachmeet: short presentations and sharing of practical ideas. Many teachers went away with ideas to try out in their next lessons. Kagan seemed to be a bit of a theme and most of the presenters were sharing ideas for making learning more engaging.
As a side note, I was struck by the irony of being told about engaging learning via text-heavy Powerpoint slides. I thought it was a joke at first, but then realised that in CPD we often don't practice we preach. It's made me think about adding a range of 'Powerpoint Free' courses, a bit like gluten or dairy free for those who, like me, are intolerant.
Teachmeets exist because there are large numbers of people faced by the same issues every day. Many are willing to share good practice for free. Add to this, Twitter, which enables the events to be promoted effectively without a marketing budget, and you have an incredibly effective way of developing teachers' skills with minimal cost and disruption to teaching.
So, where does that leave training companies?
Well, there will always be some areas where external help is required. The recent transition to Computing from ICT is a good example. There were so few teachers with the recquisite skills, we had to go outside of education to find engineers and programmers who could develop courses.
But to duplicate what's now available for free in Teachmeets and online? Pointless, morally wrong and unsustainable!
The Teachmeet experience has helped to clarify the direction for development for the months ahead:
We will continue to focus on the gaps, the new and the niche not currently catered for by peer-to-peer events.
We will continue to build tools to make social media even more useful for teachers. Our Twitter app is in 'beta' and development on our Youtube app starts during the summer break.
Finally, we will use our resources to spread the benefits of Teachmeets even further. We have in-house filming expertise and equipment and will run a trial to film and distribute teacher presentations. If you'd like us to film your Teachmeet for free, please get in touch.
Our day workshops and INSET days are obviously great, but they are only a small part of a professional development strategy. So much good stuff is available for free. Both suppliers (us) and consumers (schools) need to face this reality - or perish!