Reflections on TeachMeet Nashville

If you are an educator on Twitter, you are probably aware that #TMN10 was Thursday and Friday. #TMN10 is the Twitter hashtag for TeachMeet Nashville, an (un)conference that I started here in Tennessee. In short, TeachMeet Nashville is on the shortlist of highlights of my teaching career.
The best part of TeachMeet Nashville was the relationship building. I got to meet so many wonderful educators: Melissa Smith (@msmithpds/@millionthsmith), Philip Cummings (@Philip_Cummings), Nancy Blair (blairteach), Steven Anderson (@web20classroom), John C Carver (@johnccarver), Deron Durfling (@DeronDurflinger), Shannon M Miller (@shannonmmiller), Sweetie Berry (getsweetie), Ric Murry (@rrmurry), Clif Mims (@clifmims), Michael Zimmer (@MZimmer557), Adam Taylor (@2footgiraffe), and many more who are and are not on Twitter. These are educators who I look up to and who I learn from often. It was a real honor to be able to meet them.
Another amazing thing for me was the reaction from the teachers who came. The educators who came were so enthusiastic. Their hearts were all in the right place. It seemed like everyone there was really there for the students (and if they weren’t, they were after Steven’s closing keynote). I’ve been getting emails and messages from teachers today. @claireaustellewrote on Twitter: “@jasontbedell thanks for everything at #TMN10 You reinstilled the “drive” to learn and grow which doesn’t happen at most conferences.” In an email, one teacher wrote, “I really learned a lot at the conference. Great Information. I was sooo inspired that I signed up for twitter and updated my class jump website. I still have a ways to go in terms of bringing my class to the 21st century but I got a boost from the sessions to get going in the right direction.” Another teacher wrote, “I couldn’t believe there were so many FREE resources out there. I can’t wait to incorporate them into the classroom. You guys did an awesome job putting this together! I am really looking forward to the next one.” My friend Philip Cummings really drove it home for me with his thoughts (audio): http://boo.fm/b112640. It was outstanding that so many people were motivated to take risks to help their students.
My PLN online also blew me away. When I was talking to Melissa, it was really important to both of us that we stream the conference. While we were short sighted enough to forget to press record on the first day,it was still astounding. Both days, there about 1000 tweets about the conference. You can read the archives at http://teachmeetnashville.wikispaces.com/Archives. Furthermore, during the closing panel discussion on the first day, over 300 people were watching. The people watching on Twitter are so passionate that there were over 600 people watching the second day. We even had people Skype in for virtual presentations: Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby), Christopher Rogers (@MrR0g3rs), Janna Chiang (@jannachiang), Joseph Alvarado (@UltimateTeacher), Angela Cunningham (@kyteacher), and more that I am probably forgetting. I would like to thank Tom for Skyping in on 5 minutes notice and apologize to Janna and Joseph for our technical issues.
What I have learned from all this is that the heart of a teacher is to share. I think I may have just stolen something someone said on Twitter today, but I’m not sure. Regardless, it’s true. Many of those who came, either in real or virtually, seem to be inspired to start their own. TeachMeet Nashville was, to my knowledge, the first TeachMeet in North America. If I am wrong, please correct me. They are going to start springing up over here though. Here is what I know so far.
  1. Christopher Simpson (@TopherSimpson) is planning on starting a TeachMeet South Carolina. If you are anywhere near South Carolina please contact him.
  2. Nancy Blair (@blairteach) and Ric Murry (@rrmurry), who both were brilliant at #TMN10, are going to start TeachMeet Georgia. I believe Monise Seward (@EDUCATIONCEO) will also be involved.
  3. Allen Martin (@AllenRayMartin), Janna Chiang (@jannachiang), and Angela Cunningham (@kyteacher) are planning on starting a TeachMeet Kentucky. See http://www.tmky.org/ for more info.
  4. Christopher Rogers (@MrR0g3rs) wants to organize a TeachMeet New York in Syracuse.
  5. Lida Dabbs (@teachingwithsoul) and Kathryn (@koolkat222) are considering starting a TeachMeet California.
  6. Paula Naugle (@plnaugle) wants to start a TeachMeet New Orleans/Louisiana.
  7. Dominic Giegerich (@Giegerich) and #vanmeter may be planning a TeachMeet Iowa.
  8. We are going to do a TeachMeet Memphis later this year. However, instead of planning it mostly by myself, with help from Melissa Smith and Nancy Blair, we have put together an amazing team of educators to plan it. I’ve followed George Washington’s example and surrounded myself with people smarter than myself who have great ideas and will catch those mistakes I made in #TMN10. We’ve updated the name to TeachMeet Tennessee and are currently designing a website. Our team is Melissa Smith, Nancy Blair, Sweetie Berry, Philip Cummings, Clif Mims, Ric Murry, Monte Tatom, and Bradley Foust. These folks are all great educators and I am honored they have agreed to take a leadership role and help plan TeachMeet Tennessee. We should have dates confirmed in the next two weeks.
Are you next? Please read my post on how to start one: http://jasontbedell.com/how-teachmeetnashville-started-and-how-to-start-your-own. It is a lot of work, but it is very doable. I put together this whole thing in 2 months and 1 week. Give yourself at least 4 months, put a team together, and what you can pull off will be so more amazing than you could believe.

If you have any feedback from the conference or ideas for next year, please leave a comment.

If you would like to read a much more insightful post about #TMN10, please read Philip Cummings latest post: http://pgcummings.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/teachmeet-nashville-2010-delivers-tmn10/.

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