#tmBETT23 :: unconference best-in-show

It has been almost a month since #tmBETT23 in the London Excel on March 30th. The double-barrelled TeachMeet was hosted again at BETT; Hyve and the other sponsors are to be lauded in providing space for this, an unconference within a conference, which has been happening since Ewan McIntosh took it there in the late noughties. It represents that best sort of values-based sponsorship … provide space, tech, and refreshments for the guests, and leave them free to sort the content out themselves.


The TeachMeet venue within Excel, the “BETT Academy Live” mini-arena, was quite small this year, and there was a lot of external noise from the trade show going on all around us, but folk rocked up and packed in like sardines and got on with it; after all, this is the TeachMeet way.

The first half, hosted by Arjana Blazic & Bart Verswijvel (with the most polite wee bell ever 🛎) was a collection of super presentations showing us what is happening in classrooms all over Europe, all of which are stored at the TeachMeetGlobal repository curated by Bart & Arjana, which houses all presentations from the past few years.

After a break for refreshments, chat, hugs and catch-ups, the second half hosted by Dawn Hallybone & Danny Nicholson got underway. I was gotcha’d at the start with a surprise presentation to mark the end of my PhD about TeachMeet – thank you for this, friends and peers! It was extra special for me because my supervisory team of Richard Millwood and Keith Johnston were both there with me, as was John Heffernan who introduced me to TeachMeet way back at the Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow ❣️

ALT: Tweet from Margaret Low saying we are celebrating Mags Amond Phd, thanks Richard Millwood, turtlestitch; image shows two smiling women taking a selfie

Despite a lot of bother with a laptop which couldn’t link to presentations stored online (not a good look, BETT 😵), a series of the presenters who had signed up to share their contribution were called in random order by MC Dawn to do their thing – until suddenly time began running out, and even more suddenly she was grinning as she whispered in my ear “you’ve got two minutes, not seven” … and so I just did the last of the slides I’d intended to share. It is down at the end here – with added audio track of what I think I said in the 2 minutes 🔊. My final point that the PhD findings showed the potentia of TeachMeet to be personal, purposeful, practical, political was definitely borne out by the attendees, speakers, and organisers at #tmBETT23.

ALT: Tweet from Tony Parkin saying Now Mags Amond on her PhD about TeachMeets … as she says “TeachMeet is humble, no keynotes, no banknotes”! Image show Mags speaking at podium in fornt of slide presentation

All the presentations, including those who didn’t get called upon, are here at this link to the presentations, curated by @dannynic

We repaired to the Connaught Fox for the TeachEat aprés, which was a wall of surroundsound as people milled about catching up on each other, and making new connections.

There’s a good feel for the dynamics of the entire evening at the #tmBETT23 timeline on Twitter.

Two things from the TeachMeet have been on my mind ever since – one specific to this event, and the other more general:

  • One of the presenters stopped mid-sentence and asked the people in the front rows to stay quiet and listen. Wooosh! I’ve never seen this happen before. People having the quiet chats throughout the event is one of the hallmarks of TeachMeet. Someone referred to it in a tweet as ‘breaking the fourth wall’; I think of it differently – TeachMeet doesn’t (and shouldn’t) ever have a fourth wall. As it happens, things flowed on and got back on track, as they do with good MCs at the helm.
  • The other thing that was palpable during the second half of the event, where the focus was on classrooms in the UK, was the current unease between teachers and their inspectorial authorities – several presenters alluded to it obliquely, the final presentation called it out full-on, and it fed the conversations in the Fox afterwards.
ALT: Tweet from Jodie Lopez saying @RogersHistory is up now at #tmBETT23; image shows a man centre stage using mic

The best thing about #tmBETT any given year is that some of the loveliest people I know may be there – my only regret is not getting to chat with half of those present, that I could see across the room but couldn’t reach in the time and space available 😭. My bad … Next year.

link to my presentation with audio added

a slide with a picture of a desire path worn into a grassy slope beside some concrete steps,
The main text says TeachMeets is humble, open, social, a desire line, informal & intersectional, evoloving, and potent.
there is a block of text at the side that says What? So What? What's next?

nanopresentation script:

“So we’re running out of time and MC Dawn tells me I have TWO minutes instead of SEVEN so if tech wiz Danny calls up just this last slide for me, off I’ll go …

So, in conclusion, TeachMeet is … 

  1. humble as in makes no claims, stakes no claims, no hierarchy, no agenda, no keynotes, no banknotes …
  2. open as in Open Space, open source, open invitation, open sign up, open-all-hours!!! …
  3. social as in Look Around You here, people are here for each other’s company as much as for each other’s presentations …
  4. a desire line as in not waiting for permission to go directly into action … call it enacted agency if you prefer words to image as metaphor …
  5. informal and intersectional as in for some it is a PLN, for some it is a CoP, for some it is informal CPD – for most TeachMeet is situated in the intersections between the three …
  6. evolving as in it is still just a teenager – a point of tension to watch out for – some fear it may be in danger of devolving …
  7. potent as in it’s potentia are 4 ps: personal / purposeful / practical / political (political as in lower case p for citizen level non-hierarchical democracy meaning of political)

Anyhow, what’s next? Maybe that’s something to talk about in the pub later?”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.