‘What’s in it for me?’ is a question I asked myself when visiting the BETT Show 2016.
On Friday 22nd January 2016, I attended the BETT Show at Excel London. It’s a 4-day event and is free for teachers. ‘What’s in it for me?’ is a question I ask when faced with a barrage of salesman, IT devices and an incredibly large conference hall. But I wonder if the question should be, ‘what’s in it for my students?’
The BETT Show:
… is your annual opportunity to experiment with the latest technology, hear from inspirational figures and experts in the industry and meet your peers from far and wide (as in literally around the world).
There are over 850 exhibitors, far too many to see in one day, plus countless experts speaking and sharing ideas and vision; so you need to plan ahead and go-see displays stands that meet your needs. Last year, I spent my time networking with colleagues and grabbed a few selfies.
Thankfully, it also takes place at the weekend, so there is a rare opportunity for busy teachers to attend and see the latest technology, meet colleagues and network.
The event is an exhilarating, yet tiring occasion. I have attended with intentions to purchase new software and devices for school, but in all the years I have attended the show, I have yet to actually purchase anything for myself or for our school. I guess the event is a somewhat like window-shopping, flirting with potential solutions for the classroom. Just like any sensible person would do, we research products and prices in advance (online) before going to look, touch and test products. The BETT Show is the ideal place for schools and school leaders to do this.
Despite questioning what I get out of the event in terms of equipment, it is apparent that I am fulfilled with just attending and meeting up with colleagues. As I write, the event is now coming to a close and I wish I had attended today (Saturday 23rd), as I had such a great time last night at #TMBett – 10th TeachMeet anniversary – and catching up with so many people.
Going to any conference is fast-becoming a surreal experience, meeting colleagues you have spoken to (online) for years, many who are digital-friends, those who you have never actually met IRL (In Real Life) but have some connection with – who then sometimes surprise you when bumping into them and you don’t know who they are!
I arrived Friday afternoon and spent my time networking, meeting colleagues and visiting #BETTFutures. This is a small area, curated by @Ty_Goddard and @IanFordham of @EdTechUKHQ, sectioned off for startups who are using all sorts of creative ed-tech software solutions to enhance the practice of schools, teachers and the learning of students. It’s my must-see-go-to area!
The highlight of the afternoon was TeachMeet BETT 16.
Now into its 10th year, this is the 3rd year I have attended and it is well-worth the effort of getting there on a Friday night in South-London after a long week at school. It’s that simple!
Kicking off around 6pm and closing well after 8.30pm, this is a giant-CPD-gig for teachers. It’s the perfect remedy for those who have either lost their mojo, or for those who are engaged with social media and are taking control of their CPD. I put off attending a TeachMeet for 2 years and after I attended my first in 2011, I kicked myself for having missed 2 years of high-quality CPD.
One of the founding educators who kick-started the TeachMeet movement in Glasgow 2006 (@EwanMcIntosh) was there to offer a welcome to TeachMeet-virgins (always great to see new educators joining the movement) and provide context and purpose to the occasion. Host and organiser @DigitalMaverick did a sterling job to host the event.
Next year, I may put myself forward to present, even though I still will ask, ‘what’s in it for me?’ when the highlights for me, are four teachers I know well. The first is;
I quit the job, lost my faith and then found it again … in Dunkirk. (Source)
@NatalieHScott left her steady job, teaching in an English school to go and educate children in ‘The Jungle’ and Grand Synthe Refugee Camps’ in Calais. Her story is truly humbling and we can all help her school by donating mud-friendly resources to this wonderful project. Her story is an inspiration. You can also read about my ex-colleague Rory Fox and his refugee teaching-camp story in Dunkirk.
@MissBResources is a maths lead practitioner and numeracy champion, sharing good practice and proclaiming the importance of numeracy. An area in education that is in much need of support as literacy has. You can download her maths resources at: www.missbsresources.com.
She is one to watch!
.. and finally, where do I start with this man @MrLockyer? He makes me laugh so much and continues to inspire me with his classroom and leadership ideas. Locker and I have worked on many projects together, and I look forward to announcing our next one in the near future.
His presentation on the evening itself was memorable, I won’t say any more than that (it was Friday 9pm), but he certainly had the entire audience in stitches of laughter. He even forgot his login password!
The man is clearly a creative-genius and I think the world of him! You should take a look at his books.
I even grabbed this sneaky video-selfie in and out of all the displays at half-time!
What’s In It For Me?
So to conclude, if I could end with ‘what’s in it for me?’, attending a the BETT Show or any TeachMeet is not about yourself – despite the presentations, the selfies and the social media streams from individuals (including myself) – gathering with colleagues at events like this is all about relationships, friendships and connections. Even better, teacher-led CPD events are about making education a better place for our students.
We can’t find a better answer than that can we?
That’s why we should attend as much external-experiences outside of school as possible, connecting with new solutions and new (and old) colleagues from all over the country.
Finally, it just so happens that we are organising our own TeachMeet event on Wednesday 23rd March 2016 at @QKynaston. Last year was a huge success! I’m certain that of you have not-yet considered attending a TeachMeet, and if you are brave enough to make the journey after a long day at work, be prepared to get involved, laugh; become highly motivated and challenged and develop an addiction to a new form of CPD that you’ll never see matched in your day-to-day working life, ever!