What do Spacemen, Sherbet Lemons and Poundland have in common? That was some of the themes of our first Teachmeet at Dawlish Community College on Thursday 14th November 2013.

After attending TM Clevedon ‘I love Learning’ in June with my Director of Teaching and Learning we agreed it was time that we should have a go at putting on our own Teachmeet, and like an excited puppy I  agreed to organise it.

As Nann, our Director of L&T  is a ‘Star Trek’ lover, the theme of ‘Launchpad for Learning’ was born. We decided that we wanted an amazing keynote speaker who could take the gathered teachers into infinity and beyond. After a few tweets to the amazing Nina Jackson @musicmind agreed and a date was set.

Now we had a date and a speaker I needed to organise the publicity and wiki. This was all new to me.  Thankfully the amazing Pete Jones @Pekabelo came to my rescue and he created the most out of this world poster to advertise the event.


After an exhausting day Gromit Hunting in Bristol the incredibly supportive and creative Rachel Jones, @rlj1981 who had organised the awe inspiring #TMSoton, offered to give me some words of wisdom into the organisation which was gratefully received and without whom, I am sure the event wouldn’t  have got off the ground.

Wiki was set up and Eventbrite ticketing sorted. This now, upon reflection was a rookie mistake, as really needed only one sign up point. As it was confusing for new attendees to know which one needed completing.

On her advice I contacted  various supporters of previous Teachmeets, and thankfully Toshiba, Iris, Dragonfly Training, Crownhouse Publishing , Brainpop, Hodder Publishing  whose generosity was overwhelming. Alos, the incredible Zoe Elder, Hywel Roberts and Action Jackson who donated signed books, and ‘Crystals’ donated prizes to the raffle.

Now all I needed was presenters and attendees. I spent the summer publishing the event and in true Field of Dreams moments .Image

Slowly the presenters and attendees filled up and I was happy to see that we had over 65 signed up. But as I had been warned don’t expect all of them to turn up and on the night we had non attendance of about 35% but that didn’t dampen my spirits.

The organisation of a Teachmeet took a lot more time than I had realised, however with the support of a few coerced volunteers we created a back drop, goody bags filled with space dust, flying saucers, sparkly pencils and glow in the dark starts. The food tech department with the aid of the GCSE students provided amazing space themed canapés and snacks and with some incredible efforts ‘They Made it so’ we transferred our dull Millennium Hall in to a space themed arena and we were set for our Launchpad for Learning.

The night started with the Captain on the Bridge Pete Reeves who was our compare for the evening and he blasted off with this quote …

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” JFK September 12, 1962

Nina Jackson was up next, steering us through the atmosphere and out into space, now to say no one in the room was allowed left sitting was  an understatement with her amazing introduction of ‘Come on everyone’ had us dancing in the aisle. She pleaded with us not to worry about process and planning, but look for the spark that is within each child and link into that to generate the love of learning. We were encouraged to make our lessons like sherbet lemons, structured and hard on the outside but with an amazing buzz in the middle and when the buzz happens it launches learning into outer space.

She ended with the following clip..       to inspire us all.

We then entered into geostationary orbit for our amazing teachers who had given up their time on a cold November evening.

Clare Fenwick @csf0961 – WWWW of 21 Century Learning

Student leaders – Dawlish Community College Year 11

Rich Pepperell  @Mr_pepperell – Preparing a flipped lesson

Jon Tait @TeamTait – Creative learning spaces – Screencast

Karen Duxbury-Watkinson  @KDWScience- Fun with Foldables

Jo Payne @_jopayne – Improving feedback

Matt James @mattjameswit – using social media for T&L

Billy Waters @Dragonfly_Edu – Why Wiki?

Amy Bean Dawlish CC – Sky Literacy Sports Project

Simon Wood @SWOScience – Bits and pieces

Sarah Wright @misswrightatdcc – Poundland Pedagogy

Our student leaders did an amazing job, explaining their journey into Student leadership, while others talked about the importance of embracing innovation and technology and ensuring that our teaching reaches for the stars. Matt James showed how he uses actual Facebook to engage with his learners and engages with them in the medium that students are comfortable.  Simon Wood shared lots of bits and pieces from starters to plenaries, especially using the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram as exit tickets, Billy spoke passionately about using wiki’s for collaborative learning sites. While Jo inspired us with symbol marking to ease the load and make pupils more responsible in acting on the feedback we give them. Rich who couldn’t make it gave us a run down on how to use Knowmania to flip the learning of your classroom via you guessed it Knowmania video, while Jon Tait using Touchcast extolled the virtues of Smart Paint creating ‘Creative learning space’ to change the dynamic of classrooms. Amy shared the Sky Literacy Sports project which engaged our less able boys who struggled with literacy. While Sarah extolled the virtue of Poundland pedagogy with a hat tip to Bob Ayres and Teachmeet Taunton. Finally returning to earth with me( after managing all the tech for the evening and for those of you who know me, I’m very much a novice with all this); I gave a quick run down on my favourite addiction ‘Foldables’.

So back to earth, the astronauts and space cadets knowing  ‘we were teaching not because it is easy, but because it is hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, and one that will keep us reaching for the stars.’