Sunday, August 11, 2013

Why Teaching is the Greatest Job in the World - TeachMEET ACT, August 2013

I've been following the TeachMEET phenomenon for a few years now, and wishing there was one I could attend locally, but without the time or energy, let alone the contacts to organise one myself :-)   So, when I spotted a notice about a TeachMEET in Canberra, I didn't hesitate and registered immediately.

The theme for the TeachMEET was designated as "Why Teaching is the Greatest Job in the World".

Not only did I register to attend but, wanting to be as involved as possible, I submitted a 2-minute presentation on my favourite topic:
Talking and Sharing Online
You know teaching is the greatest job because so many teachers are spending their leisure time learning and sharing online. I want to briefly share some of the enthusiasm and passion I've experienced first hand with teachers around the world who are sharing and learning together online.

The links I shared were the Twitter chat schedules for Australia and global chats on education:
Australian Based Twitter Hashtag Chat Times
Cybraryman's Internet Catalogue - Chats on Twitter
I had promoted the TeachMEET to my faculty at work and also to my local professional association members, and on Twitter, but there were no familiar faces in attendance.  All of the teachers I met were from the schools sector, primary and secondary, but teachers from any and every sector are welcome.

Here's a brief overview of the session, from my perspective of course...

Serendipity Outside the Classroom
Shaun @shaunhaidon spoke about the opportunity for serendipitous moments that occur in teaching that make you realise what a great job it is.
... Especially when you take the students out of the classroom
... or bring guest speakers in
... or getting students involved in competitions
My favourite quote, which sums up Shaun's talk for me:  
"Plan for it, but let the moment happen."

In another serendipitous moment, I learned that Shaun is in the Better Linkages group addressing adult language literacy and numeracy skills that I'm going to be working with at CIT this term.

The greatest thing about teaching is...
Bruce @Bruce1979, the organiser of this TeachMEET,  presented his Top Ten reasons why teaching is the greatest job.  There was a lot more to each of them - you had to be there - but this might give you some idea:
  1. Awareness
    ... of what the students are into
  2. Autonomy
    .... of the teaching job
  3. Intellectual engagement
    ... keep me at the forefront of my intellectual area (and others)
  4. Variety
    ... every day is different
  5. Showcasing students
    ... what they know, do and learn (especially to parents, and to the community)
  6. Community relationships
    ... built more relationships in local community through my job than any other way
  7. Professional growth
    ... no excuse for teachers say they can't access PD
    ... it's the best available in any profession
  8. Other teachers
    ... teachers who are really engaged in their profession are some of the most engaged people in any job
  9. Knowing students
    ... personally
  10. A-Ha!
    ... those a-ha! moment, like the ones Shaun mentioned and so many more!
See Bruce's slides here

Bruce had arranged the program to show videos interspersed between speakers.  There was a brief informal discussion after each video.

Taylor Mali - What Teachers Make

What Teachers Make from DevlinPix on Vimeo.

Leadership from a Dancing Guy

Bruce pointed out that he sees the speakers at this TeachMEET (and earlier meetings) as the leaders, the teachers who got up and danced alone (however well or badly).  And he hoped that it would lead to others jumping up to join in. I kind of like the idea of being one of the first to jump up and be willing to look a little silly, especially since one of the reasons I keep putting my hand up to do presentations like this is in an attempt to overcome my fear of doing presentations like this :-)
After the 'programmed' part of the meeting, a few other teachers offered their own testimonials from the floor.  I enjoyed hearing other teachers share their passion and enthusiasm, which in turn reminded me why I love my job so much!  What an affirming evening this was!

A brief personal reflection

I think my talk went very well, at least I got a lot of very positive feedback afterwards and on Twitter.  I think the teachers at the meeting were very receptive to my message, and ready to hear it, since most, if not all, are already using social media personally and professionally.  I've given similar talks to other groups of teachers who I think have been so far from understanding what social media is all about, that it's a big leap of faith for them to see how it can support professional development.  If those teachers had got anything from my talk, they may have only seen what they could take, not what (and how) they could share.  Whereas the teachers at the TeachMEET were there because they wanted to share!  It was good to preach to the converted for a change :-) 

For more information about TeachMEET ACT: