Last Friday night I did something very different. I attended a TeachMeet. If you don’t know what one is, I recommend you watch this video. TeachMeets have been happening for a while now, but it’s really only be in the last twelve months that I’ve seen them happening consistently as part of my own PLN. But up until now I haven’t been motivated to attend one, which is kinda odd I guess since I spend so much time on twitter talking with my PLN about education. I guess I haven’t attended because I haven’t felt the need to go – the ideas I would share in a 7 or 2 minute presentation have been shared via this blog and via my tweets. To repeat those to the same audience strikes me as being redundant. And yes, attending would not be all about me and what I could do, but I also feel that if you attend a teachmeet, you should present at one – even if it’s for 2 minutes.
I attended Friday’s TeachMeet for two reasons: 1. I was asked by one of the organisers (Matt Esterman) to present on PBL. 2. The organisers are genuine, committed, hard-working people who were attempting to break a world record and I wanted to help them out. I could lie and say that I was motivated by the names of people presenting or by the excitement of being part of an event that big. But then I would be telling a lie and that’s not cool at all.
I had offered to present a 7 minute pechkucha on Project Based Learning and a 2 minute micro-presentation on Learning Spaces. At 12 noon on Friday I was emailed by Matt Esterman asking me if I minded presenting for 2 minutes as part of the opening ‘hello everyone’ session. I was shit scared at the prospect, but I also knew that if Matt was asking 5 hours before the event he was probably pretty desperate for someone to fill a gap. So I said yes. What did he want me to present on? Anything at all. Right. Let’s just say the following five hours were full of anxiety and doubt. I had to talk about ‘anything’ for 2 minutes in front of up to 300 people on a rainy and cold Friday night. Hmmmm.
After getting lost on our way and then frantic dialing Matt, we finally found our way to building 4 at Australia Technology Park. I must say walking through those doors and seeing Mitch Squires, Pip Cleaves, Megan Townes and Malyn Mawby was pretty neat. I didn’t stop bumping into my twitter PLN – in the flesh (no, not naked, although that would have been hilarious) for the rest of the evening. I must take this sentence to apologise for my blank stares at times, it really is hard to match faces with avatars and twitter usernames, I feel like I was rude to a number of people and seriously didn’t intend to be – the night was nothing short of overwhelming. When I finally found Matt and Simon Crook (another of the key organisers of that massive event) I was surprised to learn that my 2 minute Learning Spaces presentation had been bumped from the program – I was meant to present on Learning Spaces in front of 300 people? That wasn’t going to happen.
A glass of wine and a series of reassuring words from my English-teacher pal Mark O’Sullivan at the front of the ‘Theatre’ and I was feeling a little, tiny bit less stressed. As Ewan McIntosh spoke to us all about the origins of TeachMeet (which was actually really cool and I hope to revive pubmeets very soon), I hastily typed up an outline for my 2 minute talk and asked the guys near me to read through it and check it’d be OK. I even started smiling at someone sitting beside me whose face I recognised, only much, much later to realise it was Chris Betcher – no wonder he looked surprised and a little put off by me, lol. Anyway, here’s my notes:
Wow – three paragraphs into this post and it’s all about me, me, me. Oh, wait – that’s the point, right? This is my reflection. I walked up on stage and grabbed mic from Ewan (when he had finished speaking, of course). I hate microphones. I think I told everyone that. They are awful things. Despite my nerves and my insanely shaking hand, I managed to speak for 2 minutes. If you wanna see it, you’ll have to click on the link below and watch the Ustream that was recorded. I went 20 seconds over my allocated time – oops!
I just want to say that this really was a spontaneous talk (despite my one minute planning) and I hope I didn’t sound like too much of a git. The lovely lady who got up and presented on Google Docs after me was really amazing and she had put so much effort into preparing. The purpose of my talk was to just say, hey we should all be thinking resourcefully, embrace a ‘do it yourself’ attitude and make sure we keep our learners at the heart of everything we do. Yup, don’t stop thinking about the kids. I just wonder what the evening would have been like if we had some younger thinkers there – from the ages of 5 and up. Yeah, a logistical nightmare, but I still think it would be super cool.
My next presentation was also in the Theatre – it really is such a large space, designed for a much grander and more formal presentation than the one I was giving. Actually, filling that space was a tough gig – not filling it with people (I think there would have been 50 or so people in the audience and many, many empty seats) but filling it with your presence, your ideas, your passion, your voice. That was tough! As always I had left my preparing to the very last minute and was still tweaking my slides at 2pm that afternoon. I was happy with the images I had chosen, but really had to make up what I was saying on the spot. I wish I could find a video of what I said, I might learn something from the impromptu me – really, it feels like another person takes over your body and just blabs when you only have 20 seconds per slide to talk. Since I don’t have the video, I’ll just have to post my slides for you. Hope they make sense!
I will also share with you the slides for my Learning Spaces presentation that never was. I guess I’ll have to put my hand up for another TeachMeet so my presentation gets an audience. Lee said this one was better than my PBL one. Glad he told me that after I finished my PBL pecha kucha, lolz. Here are the slides:
I was really stoked by the support of my PLN during my talk. It sure is an amazing feeling to sit down after a presentation and look at your twitter account to see a whole load of tweets mentioning your name and saying really nice stuff. I kept some of those tweets and I’m going to post them below. How about following the people who tweeted? I can attest that they are awesome – and not just cos they told me I was awesome, lolz.
Oh, and this post is all about me – I know that – and I’m sorry. The next post about teachmeet will definitely be about the presentations that I saw. The people who were responsible for planning, organising and running the WORL RECORD BREAKING TeachMeet are well spoken for in this moving blog post by Simon Crook.