Reflections on TeachMeet for Special Educational Needs #TMSEN12

Helping to organise a TeachMeet whilst trying to do a PGCE course is a bit bonkers, but then there is never a good time to anything in life, is there? Josie Fraser did the real work, and I was there to keep the publicity going, to nag her when she needed it ;-) and co-host.

I’ve been to two other TeachMeets and followed others online, and have always found them so inspirational. Following the tweets after the event, it has been a real pleasure to see people making connections with each other and continuing to to discuss the ideas they heard about and thinking about applying them in their own classrooms. Tony Hirst had a quick look at the community around the #tmsen12 tag we used for the event, which looks as though there was a potentially enormous community able to join in and share the practices we heard about.

Gephi visualisation of the community around #tmsen12
Flickr: psychemedia CC BY 2.0

I’ve heard from several teachers and students who have been inspired to join twitter, and the great community of educators it holds (if that was you, you might want to have a look at my quick guide about how to get the best out of twitter).

We did two things differently at this TeachMeet, the first was to hold a Critical Debate with invited speakers, which seemed to work really well and added a deeper, strategic tone to the wonderful practical resources and ideas that were shared. The second was that we committed to producing a micro-site with a selection of resources, videos, voxpops and tweets from the day. This will be produced in the next few weeks and should serve as a last reference to the collective knowledge and wisdom we pooled together during the day. One of the main reasons that TeachMeets work is due to their informal nature, but that means that often the great ideas they produce are not shared beyond the participants (real or virtual), liveblogs like those produced by Oliver Quinlan are another great way to keep a record that can be reshared at a later date. To give you a flavour of the day, I’ve used storify to collate some of the links and photos shared on twitter.


SEN Tech: The Critical Agenda debate with Sal Cooke, John Galloway and Bev Evans new at SEN TeachMeet #tmsen12

Our SEN themed TeachMeet follows the traditional format – practitioners sign up to come along, or ideally – to talk and demo practice that works, in 7 minute micro presentations or 2 minute nano presentations. These are short to encourage a wide range and diversity of contribution, to make sure as many people attending as possible get the opportunity to share, and to make joining in more accessible and less scary for people who have never spoken at an event before.
Additionally, we will be hosting a strategic level debate. We are excited to announce the confirmed speakers for our SEN Tech: The Critical Agenda debate session:
Sal Cooke is Director of JISC Techdis, one of the leading UK advisory services on technologies for inclusion. Sal has overall responsibility for the strategic focus and direction of JISC Techdis as guided by funders and stakeholders, ensuring it continues to be the pragmatic voice of inclusion and accessibility and promotes the innovative use of technologies, to support users within education, business and community sectors across the UK
John Galloway is an ICT/SEN Advisor in Tower Hamlets, a consultant to a number of special schools going through BSF across London and Essex, and a freelance writer with several books and many articles to his name. He has been using computers with learners with a broad range of special needs since the mid-1980s and still gets excited by what technology can enable them to do.
Bev Evans (@bevevans22/@TES_SEN) is the new Subject Leader of SEN Resources at TES – and spends time sourcing and creating resources and guidance to help support teachers, who have pupils with SEN, within the classroom. Bev previously worked as an ICT Leader, who worked across age groups to develop the use of ICT in the classroom, and as part of a specialist team: using sign language, communication aids and inclusive technology within the classroom to help promote an inclusive environment.
She runs the resource website in her spare time and also has a blog for sharing ideas in ICT
Our panelists will be setting the agenda for technologies for inclusion, and presenting and defending the issues and areas they have identified as current national priorities.
There is still time to sign up – please do consider speaking or attending. We will be finalising numbers for lunch this Friday – so please register sooner rather than later if you’d like to take part in what looks like being an excellent event