Saturday, 6 August 2011

Why not hold a TeachMeet in your area?

Submitted by Fiona Beal

I can hear you asking, “A TeachMeet? What is that?” I asked the same question before attending the Partners in Learning Institute in July 2011. Baldev Singh, one of our presenters, who is a founder of in the UK introduced the idea to us. He said this informal type of professional development is starting to supercede other forms of professional development in the UK.  If there is one way to enhance the spread of technology integration in the classroom, this is it!  We soon discovered that TeachMeets are also popular in the USA (where they are often called EdCamps) and all over Europe. Oooh, I’d love to introduce this idea in South Africa!

Baldev Singh from

So what is a TeachMeet?

In a nutshell, teachers choose a successful lesson they have done in technology integration, and depending on the time limits set by the TeachMeet organizers (can be 2 minutes, 3 minutes or 7 minutes), they use a data projector and computer and share their lesson. TeachMeets can be held anywhere and at any time.

Before leaving for the PIL Institute week we were asked to watch this YouTube video on TeachMeets by Brainpop.

Some of the ‘rules’

*The teachers listening take notes, photos, videos, they tweet or just listen.
*Presentations need to be short and sharp
*Can use technology to present i.e.  PowerPoint, video, photos etc.
*It is fine to hold up a poster or even sing a song.
*You need to plan before the time

Some of our teachmeets at the PIL Institute week
We loved the TeachMeet session where we presented to the USA Innovative Teacher finalists. If I can find any of the presentations on video I'll post them here. One that I did find on YouTube was from Dan Roberts from the UK. He cleverly got us singing a Songsmith song together using wireless microphones scattered around the room.

What happens if there are too many people wanting to share something?
The organiser uses some kind of random selector so that you never know who is next. If you are not selected this time, there will be another time…the next TeachMeet.  I found this random name generator on the internet:
The organiser could alternatively draw names from a box, or use an Excel spread sheet random selector.
TeachMeets from our PIL group on other occasions
Here are some more examples of TeachMeets given by two of our PIL Institute group members on other occasions back in the UK.

Jan Web, a teacher from the UK,  organises TeachMeets. Here is a video from YouTube where she is presenting a TeachMeet on using Microsoft's free tool called Mouse Mischief.

In fact Dan Roberts from the UK  presented a TeachMeet at the Bett Show this year.

Other examples of TeachMeets found on YouTube

Here are a few more TeachMeet videos from YouTube illustrating the essence of a TeachMeet. You’ll notice that these are slightly longer – 7 minutes.
Kerry Turner on a Schools' History Project teachmeet

Julian Wood on 'What is a PLN?' (‘We' is better than ‘me’)

What happens if the teacher talking goes on too long?
The organiser has some way of telling them time is up. They stop immediately, hard as it is. A stopwatch is essential for an organiser.
How long does a TeachMeet session last?
In the UK apparently they are very common in pubs from 5 – 7pm.  The length of time depends on who is organizing but often it is a two hour session.
What are the benefits?
It seems like there are so many benefits in our social media age.
*Teachers meet teachers from other schools.
*Teachers share their great ideas and learn from others.
*After the TeachMeet you mingle and ask questions from people who shared something you liked.
*They are great fun.
*Teachers love building on ideas, and in the wave of technology integration that is happening they will be encouraged to integrate technology with the curriculum which benefits our digitally-minded learners.

As Baldev Singh told us, every teacher is a source of knowledge and its our simple ideas which can transform another teacher’s classroom. It’s the power of collective wisdom.
Can you show us a preparation template?
Here is the one created by Baldev Singh:

Please comment here about TeachMeets if you have attended one.  If you live in South Africa and introduce one, please let me know how it went.  If you happen live in Cape Town and introduce one, please invite me!  If you want me to help you organise one in Cape Town please contact me! (


  1. If you hear of one, I would love to attend too. What a great way to meet others, be inspired and share ideas. Great post!

  2. What an excellent idea! I'd love to attend one too!

  3. We'll need to chat! I think EdTechConf would be a great catalyst for this with local organisers all over the country... I'll be in touch!

  4. Mmm... hold that thought Arthur! LOVE the idea!

  5. Thanks for this Fiona - hope you had an awesome time in the US! As mentioned at EdTechConf, a coupla us Durbanites want to start an ICT Cafe Society to meet once a term to discuss ideas and to look for and to offer help. 'Teach Meets' may be incorporated with coffee, to offer a more valuable session (with some structure). I'll be contacting a few KZNers in the next days to set up a date for term 3.

  6. Hi Lisa, Arthur and Karen, I am so glad you like the idea. You are all three people who could really run with it very successfully.

  7. Hi Charli, it is great to hear from you. Yes, I really did have an awesome time in the US. I love your idea of an ICT Cafe Society combined with TeachMeets. Please let us know how it goes. You mention EdTechConf - does that mean you have had one in Durban? If so, that is GREAT!!!