Start organising the event as early as you can. TeachMeets can be arranged in a very short period of time but it is good to have time in hand especially if it is your first one. You will see that a number of the following need to happen in parallel.
- Decide what the aim and focus of the TeachMeet is. Is it general across all age ranges and sectors of education and/or is it subject specific, or ..?
- Decide if you are going to organise the event on your own or with one or two others. One or two others could be both supportive and spread the workload
- Organise the venue – consider anticipated numbers and facilitates needed; a hall and a separate venue for e.g. refreshments? Are you going to have any break-out sessions requiring additional rooms and resources or not? A school, university or another institution may be willing to provide the venue for free. If you do have to pay for a venue find a sponsor to cover the cost. Cross reference with 8. below re. logistics
- Ideally, invite along one or more key speakers to help draw in participants. Decide before inviting them if you are able to cover their travel costs and/or offer overnight accommodation if they are travelling a significant distance
- Register the event via the TeachMeet Wiki http://t.co/7ONkpQviJI where you will also find helpful advice. View what others have posted for their event to get a feel for the information people need and might find helpful
- Consider if you wish to set up a specific blog site and/or Twitter feed to promote the event and cover related information, or will you promote the event via current personal Twitter accounts and/or blogs?
- Promote your TeachMeet regularly and often! Use all avenues available:
- Emails to local networks of schools, subject specialists etc
- Contact the LEA and see how they can assist, e.g. posting it on the news section of their Grid for Learning and emailing out to schools via their ‘post bag’. If the TeachMeet is subject specific promote via relevant subject groups and associations
- Tweet regularly. Consider optimum times to tweet and link hashtags that will help you reach your target audience. Respect ‘chat forums’ and similar and do not post into the middle of an organised session unless there is a clear and direct link e.g. the focus of the session is CPD
- Contact local newspapers and radio stations and share about your event and the aim or National TeachMeet Day. ‘We are seeking to achieve strong coverage across the UK to promote TMs and their value to all in education, and to share good ideas and best practice.’
8. Organise sponsorship, a few companies that are happy to support with e.g. raffle prizes and/or funding refreshments
9. Consider the logistics for the event, i.e.:
- technical support – computer and screen/s, guest WiFi, sound and microphones if needed. Are you going to post presentations afterwards and/or film and post via YouTube or have a live feed?
- seating – rows or people grouped around tables
10. Organise the refreshments; they are a fundamental part of TeachMeets. People have travelled, given up their own time and maybe missing their evening meal to be there. Everyone appreciates refreshments and the chance to network
11. Networking opportunities are vital. The talks will inspire people and people will be keen to unpack their thinking in relation to what has been shared. A break to chat with others, to network and enjoy refreshments is vital. Some TeachMeets end with an organised meal/‘EatMeet’ at a local pub or restaurant so that discussions can continue
12. Have one person to open the event and the same person or another person to link between speakers and to keep people to time
13. Consider if you wish to have a random/‘fruit machine’ style running order of speakers, or a set order arranged beforehand
14. After the TeachMeet
- blog and share presentations and or links to films etc
- write and thank sponsors. Share how the event went and how their support contributed to its success. You or others may value their support for a future event/s and it is important they receive thanks and feedback
- consider when you wish to hold your next TeachMeet!
Finally, since the start of TeachMeets they have morphed into a number of forms, whilst still using the same term. Teachmeets can be very informal in style through to events that border on a more recognisable conference format. The key thing is to frame and shape your TeachMeet in the style that is right for you, your aims and your chosen audience. If you would like to reflect on this further you may find the following article by Mark Anderson @ICTEvangelist of interest http://ictevangelist.com/what-is-a-teachmeet-any-more/ …
Gill Bradnam @PrepSchHead