It’s Saturday 2nd March.
One year ago,today, TeachMeet Belfast took place. We were wide-eyed and raring to go in our ambition to take CPD in Northern Ireland Education to a new place – self-led and self-sourced.
Of course, the TeachMeet model wasn’t new and our colleagues around the world, especially England, had been organised for years. However, Northern Ireland is conservative (with that small ‘c’) and we didn’t know what was going to happen! Our one big worry was ‘What if nobody shows up except for us?’
Thankfully, some others did show up – had a ball, asked for us to do it again (which we duly did) and brought or sent their friends! TeachMeet NorthWest came out of this as well and plans for TeachMeet Belfast3 are underway.
However, like all birthdays this is a time for reflection. To look back over the past year to see where we have been and what we have achieve, if anything. I think the team has been fantastic. There has been a network of enthusiastic, willing, visionary, tireless teachers established who want to change things and, more importantly, help facilitate that change in schools. Northern Ireland isn’t conservative for no reason – the fear of change is palpable in our schools and classrooms – but we need to change; to be open to the realisation that what had been acceptable twenty years ago is no longer so.
I like using the example of my friend Tom Jackson who puts it terms of a visit to the doctor. How would you feel if you were treated by a doctor who hadn’t looked into new practice for twenty years? You wouldn’t feel confident that you were getting the latest and best treatment – and surely the same can be said for teachers who are afraid to bring the changing, technological world into their classrooms. Are we confident that the children are getting the latest and best education?
So, this network has to grow beyond our core group. We are going to be a virus in the coming days, weeks, months and (dare I say it) years. We will be a highly infectious virus and we are going to spread. We are going to spread into all schools and, hopefully, change things. However, the best virus is always adaptable – it changes to suit its environment – to be as invasive as it can. We need to do this and, with the vision of some fantastic people we can, we should, we will – and yes, Conor, we’re looking at you for your drive and ambition starting with your fantastic idea!
So, as we mature and grow it is refreshing to know that we are becoming experienced instead of stale; more ambitious instead of standing still; being thirsty for more instead of being satisfied with what we have.
It hasn’t been easy and we know that we are still a minority (albeit a quirky minority) amongst our colleagues. But, don’t we owe it to the children in our care to give them the best we can by embracing the ideas of others who are willing to share their best practice?
So, come along for the ride! You never know, you might enjoy yourself!