Submitted by Fiona Beal
I thought I would write about all the bits and pieces I have learned in the last few months about TeachMeets just in case they help you in your organisation of one. I have picked these up by being part of the Microsoft, Elkanah and International TeachMeets. One idea always leads to another is my philosophy! The information that follows can also be downloaded:



Information on your wiki/website/blog


All the information for the TeachMeet should be available on your wiki - map, sign up form, how to send presentations, how to access presentations, even a Powerpoint template, cut-off date for submission of presentations etc . You could point people on your wiki to the http://teachmeet-southafrica.wikispaces.com/ if you wish, just so that people could find out more. I found with the Joburg one and the Elkanah one people were nervous to present as they don’t know enough about TeachMeets. Even to this day at Elkanah you’ll get max 10 – 12 presenters and 40+ ‘enthusiastic lurkers’.

Signing up


You need a way for people to sign up rather than emailing if you don’t have a secretary. So maybe when you invite people point them to your wiki. Have a sign up Google form right there on the wiki. The idea of Keen Beans and Enthusiastic Lurkers works really well. The Keen Beans sign up to present and the Enthusiastic Lurkers are coming to network and learn. Then, from the sign up form create a place on the wiki showing who has signed up under Keen Beans and Enthuiastic Lurkers. Maybe just put their names and their schools because that creates excitement. This is how the Virtual TeachMeet International folk added presenters after people had filled in the Google form. http://teachmeetinternational.wikispaces.com/Presenters

A Google form is fantastic for signing up on a wiki. It collects the information so easily onto a spreadsheet. I have experimented with quite a few different programmes and there is currently nothing to beat Google forms. This is how it looks on a wiki basically (you can pretty it up) http://www.studentsmeet.org/?page_id=62. I am sure you are old hat at this but I have created a Slideshare about creating a Google form shown on this blog post. http://schoolnetsa.blogspot.com/2012/02/experimenting-with-slideshare-playlist.html.

Contributing a presentation


What worked really well with the TeachMeet at Microsoft is that everyone uploaded their presentation to a specially created folder in the Partners in Learning network. The new network doesn’t have that functionality at the moment and the old one won’t allow one to create a community as it is being phased out. So I would suggest a Dropbox folder. If you don’t have one please can I invite you here! http://db.tt/0YkHn1g. If prospective speakers download and install Dropbox, plus join your shared folder which would then appear in their Dropbox folder in My Documents, they could just put their presentations in there and you would automatically receive them. I have written a blogpost on using Dropbox here:

Sharing presentations


I would suggest that you ask presenters if you could upload their presentation to a Durban Teachmeet Slideshare folder so that everyone can benefit from them. I don’t know what you think about this? The whole essence of a TeachMeet is sharing, so it would be great.

Twitter hashtag


This is a MUST! It absolutely makes an event! Basically you create it for the event. Then you get others with Twitter addresses to also post tweets there and introduce themselves before the time. You use it before the date to show excitement and build up to the event. Also post messages etc. relating to the night. On the night you’ll need two screens - one for Twitter and one for the TeachMeet both with data projectors. Someone will hopefully be running the tweet session saying who is presenting etc. - a type of a running commentary in 140 characters. I can help you with any advice/ideas on this.
On the day (or the ‘evening’!)

1. You’ll need to have downloaded the presenters’ presentations and placed them on to the presenter’s laptop on the desktop for easy access.

2. Make sure the presenter’s laptop is up to date with updates. At Elkanah we sometimes have the problem that something won’t open or show because the presenter’s laptop isn’t updated with Java, Flash or whatever the case is.

3. Make sure you have added all the presenters’ names to the ‘fruit machine’. This is a great gadget to use and adds to the fun. http://classtools.net/education-games-php/fruit_machine

fruit_machine.JPG

4. Have the two screens up for Twitter and the presentations. Data projectors, mikes, sound should be all ready.

5. Perhaps you want to video the presentations?

6. Leave time for people to get to know each other and go and ask others about something they have presented over tea.

7. Have a date in mind for the next TeachMeet.

8. Someone doing the timing.

Prizes


What about having a few odd small prizes? For example, The Business of Teachingalways gives Linda some magazines which she uses as spot prizes. She also has little packets of jelly beans that she gives to the keen beans who have presented at the end.

Food


At Elkanah House we have a two hour TeachMeet, then a break with tea, coffee and biscuits followed by a two hour iPadmeet. Water is always available.

Skype


My Skype name is fibeal in case you want to skype about anything.

More about Twitter


By the way, if you would like to get into the whole Twitter, hashtag story, on Monday nights from 8:30 – 9:30pm Arthur Preston from Elkanah house holds a tweet chat for SA teachers on topics of interest. http://www.edchatsa.co.za/ . It is very inspiring. I reviewed this in a blogpost (http://schoolnetsa.blogspot.com/2012/04/sa-teachers-why-not-join-conversation.html). I have also written blogposts on installing/using Tweetchat (http://schoolnetsa.blogspot.com/2012/04/how-to-use-tweetchat-for-twitter.html) and Tweetdeck (http://schoolnetsa.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-not-install-and-use-tweetdeck-for.html)

Share email addresses


Don’t forget to share email addresses with the keen beans and enthusiastic lurkers that have signed up so that they can contact each other and start networking.