Friday was a shocker. One of those days when I got nothing, of everything I had planned to do that day, done! I was tired. I was grumpy… and I had committed to going to my first ever TeachMeet. Moreover, in one of those moments when my brain and mouth operate independently of each other, I had said I would present. (I know! What was I thinking?) After dropping my iPad in the carpark, smacking the lippy on in the rear view mirror and doing my best creative driving to get to the University of Canberra by 5pm, I arrived at the aptly, although in this moment ironically named Inspire Centre not really knowing what to expect.
Name badge slapped on, convenor discovered and seat found, I quietly prayed for divine intervention with the dropped iPad on which my presentation, made with Explain Everything, flicked in and out of reality. And my mind raced… “You are about to be discovered… exposed! You’re here to present and you’ve got nothin’ babe!” I thought of a tap routine to create a distraction, perhaps a fainting spell or an urgent phone call which required my immediate presence on the other side of Canberra. (These are the panicked inner thoughts of the introvert who has trained herself to be social). To my enormous relief, I learned I was presenting last.
What unfolded next surprised and delighted me. A young chaplain from one of the local colleges spoke first, in rap, about the importance of voice and relationship in teaching. We then heard from a teacher using Schoology to develop meaningful learning connections with his students. We heard about the ways Minecraft, Google Docs, Twitter and learning spaces are being used in innovative ways in ACT schools to engage students and to create powerful learning experiences. I found myself in a room of like-minded teachers who clearly love their jobs, love teaching and love kids. They were so affirming of each other and so appreciative of the sharing that when I finally got up to present I was no longer worried. I just shared my experiences of getting out of the way of my students’ learning (without the pictures on my little slide show but if you click on the link, you’ll see them). They even (sometimes) laughed at my jokes. We chatted afterwards and I got to meet some of my Twitter colleagues face to face, which was a particular joy.
This is what I learned.
- There are great teachers in schools
- Great teachers love learning and love teaching
- Great teachers are doing great things in schools
- Great teachers affirm and encourage each other
- Great teachers make the effort to meet each other
Can I encourage you that if you are yet to take part in a TeachMeet in your city, state or territory, you should. Even more, can I encourage you to find your voice and to present? The thing you think might be really naff might actually be what someone needs to hear. It is a fabulous era in which to be teaching and the more we seek each other out, the more we learn from each other and the more we share, the more exciting the learning in our schools will be.