There has been 9 Teachmeets at the SLF and the first time I signed up to present. This year it was held in SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority). There I met another familiar face from a previous visit to Scotland Gordon Brown (not the one you are thinking off!) who works for SQA and was acting as host to the Teachmeet. After a few beers and lovely finger food, (imagine have beers in NCCA in Merrion Sq!) the Teachmeet started. It was organised by David Noble & John Johnson of Edutalkr & DS106 bullets podcasts fame. Ian Stuart was MC carrying on the tradition of Ewan MacIntosh. Some pretty interesting presentations including Intofilm and a great one from Charlie Love where he created a shoot them up game using Google Earth and the Unity Game engine. The carnage at Pittoidre (home of Aberdeen AFC) was a sight to behold! The great thing about Scottish Teachmeets is the hospitality. Between free beer at SQA and a sponsored Teacheat, it is great to the wallet of an unemployed teacher. The best thing about sit down teach eats is you don’t know who you get sitting beside. My first Teacheat had me sitting beside Tom Barratt and David Noble. This year it was John Johnson, @digitalkatie and Charlie Love who has plans to buy a citywide Minecraft server as well as an open platform called Glew to those schools wishing another option to GLOW.
My final day at SLF, was very Glow focused as well as looking at Digital Literacies where Doug Belshaw got a name check. The Curriculum for Excellence that Scotland has rolled out in the past few years is interesting from an Irish perspective as it has been claimed that the Irish Junior Cert reforms are trying to emulate. The teachers I talked to were initially reserved on the new curriculum but as time has worn on they have been more advocates for the new curriculum I spent a bit more time wandering around the stands as you can find some really unusual items on the stands. There was a mobile zoo with its own snakes and sleeping hedgehogs, as the focus of the festival is all encompassing, stands from Scout centres looking for expedition or team building business to stands on LGBT issues.
Another thing that struck me was the number of Irish accents I heard as I walked around especially from Donegal there seems to be quite a few emigrant teachers from Ireland working for the various councils in Scotland especially in Glasgow and Edinburgh. After talking to a primary principal who originally from Inchicore, the thought occurred to me that we should organise a conference for those emigrant teachers during the summer to see if we can tap into the diaspora. Imagine been able to get the best ideas from the teacher across the world.
John Heffernan paid his own way to SLF and went in a private capacity.