When teachers meet

We should never become so isolated in our classrooms that we are unaware of those around us

For some people, social media can be a dirty word. In just the last five years I'm sure that most people know of someone who's had a messy relationship breakup because of Facebook, Twitter or some other form of social media.

However, there's a rapidly developing movement by teachers to change the way we use social media. This is connect, encourage and share with other teachers across districts, regions, states and countries. Social media is fast becoming the platform for professional development and greater globalisation of our profession. With greater access to technology and faster internet speeds, teachers are embracing new forms of technologies not only to engage their students but to form new learning networks and learning spaces outside the confines of their classroom or staff rooms.

Fifteen years ago a group of teachers met in an Irish pub to share what was going on in their classrooms. They met to encourage, discover and share what had or hadn't been working in their classrooms and they used this time as a way of connecting to each other and sharing their knowledge and experiences. Since then this 'Teach Meet' concept has taken off and become a global phenomenon. Teach Meet first arrived in Sydney in May last year. Over 300 teachers from primary, high schools, public and private schools and TAFE colleges met for a night of sharing and encouragement. And it was completely free. All the presenters gave their time willingly and the venue was also provided free of charge. All traditional barriers were broken down and a wonderfully rich evening of sharing and conversation followed. Some talks were only for two minutes, others were longer. But all of these talks covered a range of topics, ideas and food for thought.

I was so inspired by this that on Friday 26 July I hosted the inaugural Central Coast Teach Meet. Apart from a couple of printed flyers, the event's only advertising was through social media and a few emails. The venue was free (Kincumber Neighbourhood Centre) and the presenters gladly gave of their time. Overwhelmingly those who came want another one and I now have a team of teachers who can help organise and maintain the momentum that was created. The sharing continues.

We should never become so isolated in our classrooms that we are unaware of those around us. Sharing with our colleagues, friends and family allows us to keep our teaching fresh, reflective and inspired, rather than becoming stale and rigid.

I'd like to encourage anyone who would like to host a Teach Meet in your hometown or district to have a chat with me and start one of your own. We are a global community but sharing with local teachers who have unique ideas that are relevant to specific communities is very important to our students and ourselves.