#TMBETT21 – swapping formats, swapping stories

[5 minute listen, ums & ahs, mistakes and all]

The last weekend in January is usually a visit to the east end of London, alternating time at the BETT expo with adventures and down time with friends. The highlight of BETT over recent years has been the TeachMeet evenings – a chance to catch up what other teachers are up to, and spend some time together in a social setting. Although the weather has often been wet, windy and cold, the weekend itself has always been a warm uplifting start to the year. This year, of course, was not to be like that – because nobody could travel to London, BETT was broadcast as @BettFest, and the TeachMeets took the leap to online.
(TeachMeet International is outlined in the previous post).

Friday evening’s TeachMeet was reimagined and curated as ‘a game of two halves’ – the first hour was a ‘tweetmeet’ chat at #TMBETT21. Question prompts appeared on @DawnHallybone’s timeline, and the Twitter banter scrolled along the screen. There was a nostalgic feel to it – being resigned to the fact we could not be together brought out memories of good times past. The questions, answers, other sundry comments and pictures can be found in reverse order at https://twitter.com/search?q=%23tmbett21&src=typed_query&f=live

The second hour took place in a ‘zoom room’. We were greeted on arrival by the dulcet anglo-hibernian tones of Alan O’Donohoe, and after some orientations and helloes with Alan, Dawn, and Ian Usher, we were whooshed off to breakout rooms for the chats. In breakout room no. 1 there were teachers from Ireland, England, Poland and Mexico, and we compared notes on how were were getting on nationally and professionally across the globe. It was a compelling conversation – although the degrees may vary across countries, in education we are under the same storm clouds at the moment. The time flew past; before we knew it we were whooshed back to reception for a re-centering break.
Next breakout room no. 2 had Scotland, Ireland, and England – it was a smaller group, and talk turned to TeachMeet itself. It was good. Blog posts were discussed and promised – you know who you are – ’nuff said ๐Ÿ˜‰

So how did we fare with the change of format?
Some things were the very same – the care and geniality of the MCs and organisers shone out as usual, moving gently thru the breakout rooms, making for as convivial an atmosphere as one could reach at such a remove. Time given over to the central TeachMeet thing of spending time swapping stories with peers.
The down side of course – the lack of physical presence, the embrace – got summed up neatly by Tony Parkin …

a tweet that says "Aww... a reminder of what we are missing by only being virtual... annual hug with mags amond and countless others in this wonderful community teachmeet bett 2021"

On the flipside, being able to hear and speak to each other was much easier in this medium than in the pub! And definitely on the upside, the unexpected bonus of a more global participation; as Conor Power suggests, this is something to be held onto in whatever future we evolve into.
[AND one last upside just for me myself alone, sitting at home meant getting some more rows of knitting done!].

up close of some multicolored knitting, striped rows of garter stitch

what would you call a blanket knitted during COVID-19 pandemic isolation?

So whether #TMBett22 is together, apart or somewhere in between remains to be seen. In the meantime, thank you to Alan, Ian, Dawn, and all who steered us together thru #TMBett21.

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