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And lo, a light shone out of the East … #tmeast! February 6, 2011

Posted by IaninSheffield in CPD, Inspiration.
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Three hours driving there and three hours driving back is a long way to go for professional development … especially when it’s at your own expense and on your own time. Maybe, but not if what you get pays back dividends. The fact that #tmeast was on a Saturday meant I could get there, whilst many TeachMeets are on weekdays, after school, making it had to travel there in the time available.

Mark Allen at #tmeast

Mark Allen (@edintheclouds)

What did I take away from the day then? Well of course a little something from each presentation; you never fail to learn from other people’s practice and ideas. Yes I knew about Google Earth, but Paul Parslow-Williams provided some specific examples of what could be done that I hadn’t thought of. Yes I know you can use your website to engage parents, but Collette Walsh’s description of using photographing Y1 work during the course of the week, then surfacing it through Photopeach and the school website made it much more real. And yes I know an off the shelf learning platform won’t always help, but Mark Allen‘s story of how successful their school’s move towards using free, online tools has been in taking them forward spoke to the reality of this undertaking. Sometimes it’s something completely new and sometimes it’s people helping you see things you already knew, in a new way.

It would have been worth the trip for the presentations alone, but there’s more. I also got to meet several people who until know have just been Twitter names and though you feel you have begun to know them, actually being able to shake their hand and exchange a few words makes all the difference. So in addition to learning from their presentations, @KnikiDavies, @tj007, @mrplume and @ColinTGraham became real people through the few words we exchanged.

And that journey? Wll even that wasn’t dead time. As I suggested in the nano presentation I gave, podcasts are a way of enjoying prefessional development at times when you’re stuck doing other things … like driving. So on the journey I was able to listen to an incredibly articulate US high school student (Marcia) in an online discussion with teachers on making learning activities real and relevant (Teachers Teaching Teachers). I also leaned far more about the potential educational benefits of online gaming, from an interview the Ed Tech Crew had with Dean Groom. Then there was the usual banter and a raft of interesting tools from the Tech Chicks. As I perhaps failed to make clear in my brief presentation, using ‘dead time’ in this way surely offers so much untapped potential and is one way we can start to address the ‘lack of time’ that gnaws away at the majority of teachers.

A set of photos from #tmeast can be found here and the video responses are here.

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