TeachMeet, TeachEat, and much more besides...
Last week I flew out from Toulouse to London on Thursday afternoon with Estelle Ash and Simon Gregg for a busy weekend of events, meetings and great conversations with fellow educators. We started our evening off in a suitably cultured fashion by watching a fantastic two-man play at the Old Vic ("Tree") and having a nice meal at the neighbouring Mexican restaurant, where Simon demonstrated some impressive menu-narrowing strategies that were the envy of fellow diners far and wide:
On Friday morning, whilst Estelle and Simon checked out the latest shiny stuff being exhibited at BETT, I had a nice walk into central London for a chat with the world-renowned Professor of Russian History, Orlando Figes. Over coffee in Holborn we discussed ways forward with the Google Hangouts video conferences which he has been pioneering with schools in the UK and beyond.
Professor Figes is doing some great work trying to bridge the gap between academic historians and secondary schools and has agreed to conduct another couple of 'exam-busting' video conferencing sessions in May. You can organise your own video conference with Professor Figes by contacting him through his website RevolutionaryRussia.com. You can also see samples of the video conferences he has conducted with my own students by following these links:
The October Revolution: Google Hangout with Professor Figes
Lenin's Russia: Google Hangout with Professor Figes
I was then kindly taken out for lunch with Ed Dorrell, deputy editor at the Times Educational Supplement, where we discussed a range of interesting issues surrounding the future of teacher-produced resources on the internet and how best the TES could support these developments.
Ed also gave me a brief tour of the TES offices where we were hoping to continue our conversations with editor Ann Mroz, who was unfortunately away at another meeting - but several ideas were bounced around which will hopefully develop further this year: watch this space!
After a visit to the Dickens' House Museum, I then headed back to EXCEL Docklands for the TeachMeet event at the BETT conference. This year, the TeachMeet was opened by the legendary Sir Ken Robinson, who was selected by 'complete chance' as the first speaker using my very own "Roulette Wheel" Random Name Picker from my ClassTools website:
As is the case every year that I attend, I put my name down to deliver a presentation, but was not selected by my own roulette wheel (some form of 'rigging' is clearly necessary before next year to avoid a similar scandal). Not to matter: the presentations by those who were selected were superb and the event was expertly hosted by Graham Brown-Martin, Dawn Hallybone and Oliver Quinlan. It was also a great opportunity to chat to several inspirational educators that I have hitherto only known in the Twittersphere: in particular Miles Berryand Ross Morrison McGill:
Special congratulations from a purely personal perspective go to my friend and colleague Simon Gregg, who delivered - with commendable aplomb and insouciance - his very first TeachMeet presentation about his creative approaches to class blogging in primary:
"TeachMeet" was immediately followed by "TeachEat" at a nearby pub, organised by the lovely Dawn Hallybone, and here it was fantastic to talk with a whole host of people whose enthusiasm and commitment to classroom teaching continues to be a refreshing inspiration. It was interesting to chat to Dughall McCormick and Oliver Quinlan about the work and research they are doing to support classroom teachers, and great to have a drink with Joe Dale, whose lifestyle is sounding increasingly nomadic as he devotes more time to delivering talks and training all over the world. I had a brief chat with the dynamo that is Drew Buddie (a man who doesn't seem to stand still long enough to put a drink in his hand) and was intrigued by the CampEd project outlined by Bill Lord. It was also great to see Dave Stacey, Ian Stewart, John Heffernan and Mags Amond. To top things off, I finally had the pleasure of having a beer with he brilliant Tim Rylands (here we are being photobombed by Mags and friend):
On Saturday I met up with two of my oldest and closest friends, Badsa Malik and Paul Sherry, and a newer one in the form of Richard Byrne - who joined the three of us for a few beers in central London before we ended up gatecrashing a birthday party being hosted by a friend of a friend of Paul's somewhere near Queen's Park...if that makes sense.
And just to round things off, I saw a reconstruction of a World War One Dazzleship on the Thames the following morning. Overall, not a bad few days back home in Blighty!