I am just about fully recovered from the first ever TeachMeet Pembs, an event I organised which took place on Tuesday just gone. I can’t remember much of it , I don’t know how I managed it but, encouraged by a whole gang of Twitter bods, I went with it and the results are available for you to view via Ian Addison’s blog. A few people have already blogged about the event from a spectators point of view so I want to reflect on the actual organisation of it.
It all started as a bit of a joke. I am located on the tip of West Wales, as close to Ireland as I am to England. Loads of great TeachMeets were going on in England and Scotland but they were all miles away and it was frustrating that I could only join in, usually, via FlashMeeting or by watching the live feed and commenting on Twitter. Then I got the chance to go to TeachMeet BETT 2010 and take part in TeachMeet Takeover and immediately I was hooked. Ideas. both big and small, were shared freely and the atmosphere was very supportive and relaxed. I left BETT wanting to repeat the experience as often as possible but still there were no TeachMeets happening in Wales so it was back to the Flashmeetings for me. Then, on afternoon, I ended up in front of two computers trying to watch and follow two very different TeachMeet events: TeachMeet Hants and the BMobLe Conference and later that night, via Twitter, I bemoaned the lack of TeachMeets happening in Wales. I thought that would be it.
I was, of course, quite wrong. When people worked out where I lived it was suggested that an informal ‘holiday style’ Teach Meet could be organised on my doorstep during the summer holidays, thus giving rise to the event’s hashtag name – TMBev. There was talk of camping, guitars, pubs and it carried on in that jokey way for a little while until…someone said they would be prepared to actually come. Okay, I thought, I’d better get organising!! Luckily there was a lot of help out there, particularly from the aforementioned (and totally wonderful) Ian Addison who has a great ‘How to organise a TeachMeet’ guide available (I’m sure he’ll share if you ask nicely )
I could not have sorted things for this event without help from a number of key people so here goes with the list! Firstly the people who started the joke in the first place (you know who you are but I’m naming and shaming anyway): Bill Lord, James Langley, Kevin McLaughlin and Dughall McCormick and those who slowly convinced me it would be a good idea: Dawn Hallybone, Anthony Evans, Chris Ratcliffe and Ian Addison. All of these people made me think that the event would be a bit like Field of Dreams…’if you build it, they will come’ which wasn’t totally the case but it gave me the push I needed to get things moving in the right direction. Then there was the support of my Head Teacher, who allowed me to travel up to Blackpool for their TeachMeet and see how it was done, and from my local ICT advisory teacher, Duncan Whitehurst who helped with the behind the scenes technical stuff and also came along to present! I also need to mention our fabulous sponsors, some of whom just picked up the tweets and offered support: take a bow 2Simple Software, Scholastic, Maxi Map (from Llanelli – our first local sponsor), Rising Stars, BrainPOP UK and Primary Pad, and Welsh based ones that I emailed directly: Daydream Education and Gomer Books. Without the support of any of these people there just wouldn’t have been a TeachMeet in Pembrokshire so thanks for helping it happen.
Of course we wouldn’t have had a Teachmeet at all if there hadn’t been presenters and an audience ,and you can see most of them on the little video above. I was amazed at how far some people were prepared to travel to take part, or even just observe, and I truly appreciate their attendance and participation. Some people even went above and beyond the call of duty just to be there and join in! Mary Farmer endured a few days of sleeping in my shed to attend before heading off on her holiday break. Simon Haughton, Ian Addison, Colin Hill and Charlie Deane somehow crammed attending, presenting and assisting with the event into an already tight schedule of meetings, holidays and other stuff – words fail me. With true dedication to the cause both Mandy Barrow and Jo Liversidge plumped for the full on holiday experience, combining TeachMeet with the glory of Pembrokeshire. And I don’t want to forget the Welsh teachers who came, none of whom had ever been to a TeachMeet and two of whom, Sheila Furniss and Dave Stacey were brave enough to give presentations!
So that’s about it! TeachMeet Pembs was certainly an experience to remember and, hopefully, I’ll get round to organising another TeachMeet in the future and another batch of interested people will come along. I’ve already included links to some blog posts that talk about the presentations and ideas that we shared so I hope you enjoy checking them out. You can also check out an archive of Top Tweets (thanks again Ian) connected with the event I’ve just got a few things left to say and then I promise I will stop. Firstly, Ian Addison is like a one man TeachMeet machine and his assistance and commitment were invaluable on the day. Next time I see him I’m going to give him a big sticker and remember to say well done! Secondly, I have a truly fantastic technician called John who came in for the whole day and sorted out all the little things that needed to be done. Someone even asked if I could hire him out – he’s that good!! You definitely need people around who are technically savvy if you’re thinking of organising a TeachMeet of your own and I know am fortunate to have him working alongside me. But finally I just have to tell you that the support from my family has been second to none and there is no way the event would have taken place without them coming along for the ride. My husband got up from a 12 hour night shift after only a few hours sleep to help pack goody bags and rearrange furniture and my youngest two children have been very patient; sorting out lots of household chores while I’ve been ‘otherwise engaged’ and assisting to set up the day. And, just when I thought my family couldn’t possibly do anything extra to help my slightly unusual father (a dj at Swansea Sound) got the local news team to ring up and chat to me about it on air for the morning show!! They just gave it their total backing and I just couldn’t have done it without them