archived blog posts

27 May 2012

Host a teachmeet and you’ll create an enriching PD opportunity

This past week saw Somerset House host its first teachmeet. Inspired by teachmeets attended by some of our staff at Elkanah House over the last year, we decided that hosting one of our own would be a good opportunity to expose more of our teachers to the sharing and learning experience that a teachmeet offers.

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest challenges facing modern education is getting school staff to buy in and support the use of technology in classrooms. There are many reasons for this: age, fear, time shortages, tradition, ineffective resources and lack of personal exposure to technology. In my experience, it’s a combination of these factors that keep teachers from using and embracing many of the contemporary technological tools that have not only already changed the way we live, but that will most definitely impact on how today's youth succeed and progress through their own lives.

In our school, as in many others, the historical reluctance to use technology to supplement the education we provide is multifaceted. Recent technical improvements to our school’s computer system have seen a growth in the confidence levels in our teachers. Coupled with positive staff development and support from colleagues, it has been inspiring to see more of our teachers improve and  increase their innovative use of technology.

Some of our teachers who have been challenged but determined in their use of technology, used the teachmeet as an opportunity to share their best tools and lessons with approximately 40 other teachers from schools in the area. What a wonderful event to have been part of.

Not only did each ‘Keen Bean’ deliver an excellent presentation, but all the presenters and ‘Enthusiastic Lurkers’ were given a great opportunity to learn something new. Each person left enriched and inspired.

The greatest success of our teachmeet, however, wasn’t the sharing and learning. The real success was the incredible realisation that each presenter had; everyone who stood up and shared their own best ICT lesson or tool for the first time got to experience the “I can do this” moment. And that was priceless. Standing in front of 40 odd people, many of them strangers, and realising that you are in fact already making a wonderful contribution to the children that you teach in your use of technology was both a reward and a confidence boost for all of our ordinary teachers who have made the decision to embrace technology.

Watching it happen, reaffirmed that the biggest contributing factor to the successful implementation of technology in schools is about staff attitudes; individuals who have resolved: “I will do this” over “I can’t do this”.

Along with the personal achievements and individual successes, the teachmeet also provided a very tangible and positive boost for the rest of the staff at our school: not only did we all realise we can do it, we realised in fact that, collaboratively, we already are. Although our progress sometimes seems slow and difficult, the perspective and ‘bigger picture’ vantage point that the teachmeet gave us was exactly the confidence boost that we all needed.

Hosting a teachmeet is a very positive experience - not only does it give all those who attend the opportunity to learn something new, but it gives the teachers and schools who share the chance to realise their potential and grow their confidence.

“You don’t need permission to do great things” - Dion Foster