What I learnt from my first Teach Meet…



I joined Twitter a couple of months ago and, until then, had never heard of such a gathering. My feed was soon filled up with happy tweets from teachers enjoying Teach Meets and naturally I felt left out. Serendipitously, last Thursday I was on an NPQML day and through the old fashioned method of face to face networking I was invited to #TMkentmedway by one of the hosts, Charlene Noble. And that’s how, earlier this evening, I ended up joining approximately 150 other teachers in the main hall of The Howard School in Kent. Like me, these teachers were choosing to spend two hours of their evening at a CPD event run by teachers for teachers.

The two hours flew by with 15 presentations (each a maximum of 5 minutes) broken up with a short break. There was a real element of fun with the Teach Meet bingo and prizes and an incredibly friendly, supportive environment. The cookies were fantastic and I’ve a little haul of bags, stationery and mug. Best of all, though, I took something away from each and every presentation and would like to thank those that were willing to stand up and share today. Thank you also to the organisers who obviously put in an awful lot of work behind the scenes.

What did I learn?

The first thing I learnt, or was reminded of, was what a passionate bunch of professionals teachers are. This was a room packed full of colleagues giving up their evening so that they could share ideas for how to develop their practice. I think we should feel immensely proud of our profession’s willingness to collaborate.

I learnt that a beach ball can represent a learning journey (and not just a trip to the beach). This presentation focused on a range of ideas taken from ‘Talk-Less Teaching: Practice, Participation and Progress’ by Isabella Wallace. The ‘wonderball’ (a name which immediately has me humming Oasis) was my favourite. At the start of a lesson you might share the lesson topic/objective and ask students to write down a question about it on a strip of post-it note which they then stick to the ball and pass back to you. Towards the end of the lesson, or series of lessons, the wonderball can be passed randomly around the room and students remove a question and attempt to answer it. Thank you, Hannah Covey.

I learnt that there are some ‘quick wins’ when embedding SMSC. This presentation focused on how different subjects already cover SMSC strands (e.g. expressing opinions on social issues in English lessons) we just need to identify where this is happening. I especially liked the idea of thinking about how we’re equipping our students for the future. Thank you, Esther Cook.

I learnt that there’s still a place for A3 paper in revision. This presentation focused on a revision technique whereby students begin by filling an A4 page with everything they know about a topic. Next, in a different coloured pen, they can make additions using other resources e.g. their peers. Students then stick the A4 sheet onto the middle of an A3 sheet (I love A3) and around it, in a different coloured pen, write past exam questions on that topic. Finally, students might then include some of their answers to these questions. Voila, a revision process and something pretty to put on the wall. Thank you, Hannah Miller.

I learnt that you can roll your own revision. This presentation focused on using dice to add a bit of variety and fun. Students can roll a range of dice that represent whatever you need linked to a resource of your making e.g. roll one die for a noun and another for a verb etc. and then translate from the Latin into English (Steph teaches Latin and is, as I discovered from sitting on her table, the proud owner of 21 tarantulas!) Thank you, Steph Harrison.

I learnt that John Tomsett’s influence is everywhere. This presentation focused on setting ‘memory homework’ that would best support long term learning by being cumulative i.e. revisiting previous topics (a quick nod to Ebinghaus). John Tomsett also got a mention with a share of his thinking aloud strategy. Thank you, Stuart Gibson.

I learnt that teachers make great teapots. This presentation focused on gap analysis plenaries whereby students share their ‘I’m still stuck’ points on post-it notes to be peer unstuck or to inform the teacher what needs to be covered again. Another great plenary, entitled ‘Body shape plenary’ involves students adopting different shapes in response to multiple choice questions e.g. a church, glasses or standing on one leg. Thank you, Mike Baker.

I learnt that, for the first time in 60 years, a new cloud type has been discovered. This presentation focused on a range of activities used throughout a Geography lesson on clouds and rain. I particularly liked the idea of using concentric circles for students to make notes during Think-Pair-Share. For anybody still wondering, the new cloud is Undulatus Asperatus. Thank you, Mohamed Dada.

I learnt that emotional intelligence is important too. This presentation focused on helping students to understand the spectrum of their emotional responses to situations rather than seeing them as binary (e.g. happy – sad). Thank you, Charlotte Webb.

I learnt that there’s an IDEAL way to do things. This presentation focused on how to use IDEAL (Identify, Describe, Explain, Apply, Link) and a plenary grid. I thought the plenary grid, with a range of different ways for students to reflect on their learning, could be a great tool if used in moderation. Thank you, Luke Harris.

I learnt that students can monitor their own behaviour. This presentation focused on encouraging students to monitor their own behaviour, both positive and negative. Thank you, Trudie Bhola.

I learnt that students can be monsters. This presentation focused on using Class Dojo as a tool to encourage positive behaviour. You can input a range of positive and negative behaviours and track these for different students – each student is represented by their own little monster. Thank you, Heather Dent-Cowan.

I learnt that hating marking can inspire you. This presentation focused on how to use Excel to generate personalised WWW EBI and TRY feedback sheets for students. The motivation behind this model was to reduce the amount of time spent writing out similar comments and targets and the presentation began with the words, ‘I hate marking’. Thank you, Clive Boughtflower.

I learnt that students spend upwards of 30 hours a week on the internet. This presentation focused on the misconceptions students bring with them as a consequence of using Twitter and Youtube as their primary source of news. Kevin spoke about having to spend time unpicking these misconceptions before new learning could take place and suggested pre-empting this by doing a bit of research and then evaluating the likely sources of common misconceptions at the start of a lesson/topic/unit of work. Thank you, Kevin Thomas.

I learnt that it’s possible to use interpretative dance to teach the process of longshore drift. This presentation focused on how to use dance to help students remember tricky processes. We were given a fantastic demonstration of the ‘swash’ and ‘backwash’ of the longshore drift with a tantalising mention of the ‘waterfall dance’ which was, apparently, another story… I was thankfully not hit on the head by a flying hexagon that was thrown out to the audience (like a drummer throwing out his drumsticks at the end of a performance) at the end. Thank you, Andy Knill.


What now?

I will be trialling a few of these ideas in my classroom and exploring the possibility of using a ‘Mini Meet’ model for CPD at my school. I’m also really looking forward to my next Teach Meet on Monday 6th July at Highbury Grove School in Islington. I’ve got the Teach Meet bug.


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