The fluffy-toy camel sailed through the air to the podium in front of the speaker. Time up. With a good-natured smile she walked off the stage to hearty applause. Welcome to TeacherMeet BETT 2009.
If continuing professional development was designed as a nightclub act it would probably look something like TeachMeet. Created by Ewan Macintosh and collaborators at the Scottish Learning Festival, this by-teachers-for-teachers show-and-tell event came of age with a packed-out celebration of learning.
There was a queue at the door of the packed Apex room at Olympia, London, and inside a buzz of anticipation. As with other TeachMeets, the contributions varied from banal to brilliant, laced liberally with bonhomie and humour. There was even musical entertainment - from Georgia Wonder (video below) - for some calm and networking opportunities.
That such an entertaining, insightful event could be organised via a wiki and Facebook, with little supporting publicity, is proof of success. And commercial sponsorship was so strong that the thirsty post-show crowd failed dismally to drink the bar dry. But the final good omen can be seen on a visit to the Teachmeet wiki. Other events lined up in the Midlands, Havering and Orlando, Florida.
What began in Scotland about four years ago has now taken seed. Each speaker is given 7 minutes of “show and tell” while trying not to incur the wrath of the flying camel by being boring, selling a product or 'death by presentation software' (it's not just PowerPoint any more). At BETT 2008 fewer than 100 people turned up; this year, the wiki and a presence on Facebook attracted 24 helpers/organisers, 24 presenters, 14 nano-presenters, 181 lurkers (the audience) and 16 virtual attendees (via Flashmeeting). Thirteen sponsors made sure thirsts were quenched and enough pizza was available at the EatMeet at Pizza Express later on.
The good humour and passionate and insightful presentations made the three hours fly past and many people in the audience were seen scribbling away, noting bits of information for follow-up later. And bloggers were posting as the event proceded. In fact the real success of the event can be gauged by Googling TeachMeet BETT 09 and checking out the blogs and the photo and video site connections. Happy clicking.