It is a Saturday afternoon at Scienceworks in Spotswood. Parents and their children are investigating the interactive tools downstairs. The chatter of learning can be heard throughout the complex. But not all of it comes from families. Upstairs in a quiet back room a group of teachers are gathering. For some it is the first time they have met, for others they are old friends. But they are all there for the same reason. TeachMeet Melbourne.
First beginning in the UK, TeachMeets are informal gatherings of teachers who share their ideas, experiences and understandings and now run all over the world and across other cities in Australia. Made up of a series of short 2 minute or 7 minute presentations by teachers, Teachmeets offer teachers an opportunity to learn from others, share their ideas and network with other teachers.
Teachmeets have been running in Victoria since October 2011 and can be organised by anyone. Over the last two years TeachMeets have been held at schools, museums, universities, hospitals and next month will see a TeachMeet at an AFL club. As diverse as the location they are held are the teachers who flock to TeachMeets, which are generally held every 1-2 months.
At this particular TeachMeet at the Melbourne Scienceworks there are some speakers who stand up for the first time to talk about QR codes, others who have been regulars at TMs share special projects or the journey of creating a book drive. You never know what you are going to get at a TeachMeet, which is the appeal to the 50 teachers who have come together on a Saturday afternoon.
But don’t be mistaken for thinking TeachMeets are only about the presentations. The afternoon tea break allows an opportunity to network with other teachers or ask questions of the presenters. Often there is even an chance to head out for a ‘TeachEat’ afterwards.
One of the great things about TeachMeets is that it is professional learning by teachers, for teachers. Anyone can come along and will be welcomed into the TeachMeet community. You don’t have to present but can enjoy the connections, collegiality and learning that happens at each TeachMeet.
If you would like to join other teachers at a TeachMeet or host your own, head along to the TMMelb website (http://teachmeetmelbourne.wikispaces.com/) or follow #TMMelb on twitter to see when the next one is and register to be involved.