No, not a rallying call for any of my readers (and why do I have readers?) to go and seek out Lloyd Cole’s most recent album – though it is rather marvellous!
I’m always reminded of Sir Ken Robinson’s famous (now infamous) TED talk where he mentioned that (paraphrase) in governments’ drives to raise standards, he was yet to come across a teacher interested in lowering standards…
In light of the recent decision of the RTU to cancel the traditional, and as far as I am aware – over subscribed, series of Summer Schools in Northern Ireland for teachers, there has been the groundswell amongst the proponents of TeachMeet in Northern Ireland, to grasp the opportunity to provide an alternative for teachers.
This is truly raising the Standard for teachers, and by teachers. In harking back to the Roman raising of the Standard, we are now seeing a rising amongst the teaching fraternity to take ownership of their CPD and map out their career paths by offering the same opportunities to their colleagues.
Nobody HAS to go to a TeachMeet, however, over the past number of years from the tentative original 50-60 people squeezed into a lecture theatre in Stranmillis College to 120 in St. Mary’s College a couple of months ago, there is a continuing drive to develop the movement of self-directed CPD in teachers. It’s by no means perfect, and not everyone will be interested, but if we can grow to where we are now on word-of-mouth and social media from 5 people meeting in Starbucks (Where’s the blue plaque?) I think there’s an opportunity to give teachers the impetus to come with us in raising our own Standards.
By seeking out the classroom practice of colleagues through attending a TeachMeet, these teachers are also interested in raising the Standards in the classroom. Sometimes, they’re not always objectively measureable but the impact can be seen on a human level through engagement and creativity. But, the teachers are there; on their own time; under their own direction and wanting to learn. They are bearing their own Standard – going back, sharing the practice, taking the risks by trying something new and spreading the TeachMeet message. We don’t always get it right but, on most occasions, I think we do…
I’m not a Standard bearer – at times I think I’m just shining a light into a dark corner that needs explored but I come back to Sir Ken Robinson and how he suggests that we should surround ourselves by ‘Our Tribe’ and I am so proud to be even associated with the dynamic, wonderful, driven, focused, passionate, intelligent, thoughtful, caring and downright brilliant people that have taken up the TeachMeet Standard in Northern Ireland and truly believe in the good that it can do!
Follow the Standard or carry the Standard?
As the Roman armies were able to follow their own Standard on the battlefield, we have taken up our own Standard to shine bright this summer. We are nearly there; the meeting is happening and, it looks like there might be something special in August from the team. #NIEdcamp seems to be the perfect vehicle to explore all the areas that come up in TeachMeets for teachers, for whom that 7 minutes makes them wanting to hear more! I hope it will happen. I know that there is the goodwill amongst us to work on this over the next few weeks to make it happen and let teachers know about it.
So, @CurriculumNI let’s all carry the Standard; raise it high; show that the CPD of teachers is vital in this fast-changing educational world and make Northern Ireland the educational Standard that others follow!