Where to begin? It’s been a very busy few days indeed! I’ll start by saying that I am not going to compare the differences between Learning without Frontiers and Bett as they are two different shows and I was only at Bett. Bett is a sales exhibition. Some of us have helped to hijack that and turn it towards learning with Teachmeet etc, but still, primarily it is about sales isn’t it? Also Bett is free, which always helps convince schools to let staff attend.
Our Bett journey began with Collaborate for Change, an event where people could share ideas and move around to different tables. Much less scary than presenting and a very good idea. For me though we failed. We arrived late and din’t get a programme so we sort of wandered and sat at tables with people we knew instead. Our fault though and not the fault of the event. Next time, maybe some more programmes would be useful though? As with all events like this, and you’ll notice more as you read on, the main thing for me was the networking and meeting people. It was great to arrive and be greeted by @chrisrat and to then go and see people like @eylanezekiel, @ebd35, @bevevans22, @andreacarr1, @edintheclouds, @zoeross19 and @hgjohn. I also enjoyed meeting @squiggle7 and @jacksloan. You’ll notice I’ll stick to Twitter names as it’s easier then if you want to go and follow them. It also proves just how many people on Twitter are real, lovely and great to meet and chat to. I know I will miss some people out, but hey, I’m only human.
After this event it was great to share a curry and discuss things further with @clairelowe2, @jonaudain, @hgjohn and @jacksloan. These may sound a bit like social events, but it is great to meet the people that help to challenge my thinking daily on Twitter.
The Friday morning started with #bettbreakfast, a very silly idea started last year where a few of us would grab some food before heading into Bett. There are 2 benefits of this, 1) we get some food and 2) we get to meet some people we might not have known before as well as old friends. It was great to see (a slimline) @joga5, (a sober) @chrismayoh and (a very tanned) @dawnhallybone as well as meeting people like @anne_neal and @dwsm. 18 people eventually turned up and after a hearty breakfast we headed to the show.
Friday was a great day, I started with a few hellos to people and then headed to 2Simple for my presentation on the use of Purple Mash with younger children. I spoke far too quickly, but people enjoyed it so that’s enough for me. I then ended up sticking around and demo-ing Mash to a variety of people that came along. The rest of the day involved a bit of wandering and then some time on the Brainpop stand as a VIB (Very Important Brainpopper) sharing how we use BrainPop and a Teachmeet takeover on the use of blogs within the school.
This year’s takeover was different to last year’s. It seemed easier to advertise, people just came and sat, we didn’t need to drag them over to get them to listen to us which was a huge benefit for us indeed! The takeover was well attended and it was nice to have people come and ask questions about blogging afterwards. It’s only when you talk about it that you realise how much we have achieved in such a short space of time.That reminds me, I did meet @theheadsoffice outside @deputymitchell’s presentation and I managed to chat to David for a few minutes, but it’s a shame not to spend more time with him. Maybe next time eh?
After all of the fun of Friday came Teachmeet. Now this was fun too, but boy it was nerve wracking. It started about 5pm when we were tidying the room as the last seminar had left bottles and coffee cups everywhere! By 6pm, we were all sorted, prizes collected, people queueing, drinks vouchers ready and cupcakes being prepared (thanks @lisibo).
It was a fab event but I know I was petrified for the first half, I definitely relaxed in the second. It didn’t help that we had two presentations ‘camelled’ by @johndavitt because we thought they were selling rather than sharing ideas. I loved listening to many of the presentations, especially the always entertaining @dughall (that’s Dughall, not Dug Hall) and he definitely stole the show. I am going to be honest, I was a little disappointed with Teachmeet but only because I always think I can be better. We should’ve watched the DS video before showing it and I wish that people like @mynictle and @kvnmcl had presented as their presentations sounded amazing and were more musical rather than tech-based. Don’t get me wrong, Teachmeet was great, but I was gutted I didn’t get to see Kevin and Nicola present. It all went well apart from that though! One highlight for me on Friday was the journey to the tube station, Kevin, you are mental and I have no idea how you made it back to your hotel!!
I met so many people at TM and again on Saturday and it would be impossible to list them all, but it was great to finally meet people like @natty08 who I have spent ages chatting to online and @mr_thorne whose resources I use every week in KS1. Saturday was again a mix of meeting people and a presentation about Class Pet on Scholastic’s stand. I also met Anthony Browne and got some books signed (almost forgot about that).
I know this has been very descriptive and not very reflective, but it’s hard. I wasn’t at Bett to see anything or buy anything in particular and after wandering around nothing really grabbed me as being amazing. For me at the moment, with no particular need or focus in school, Bett is all about networking, Teachmeets and repaying people who have helped us. I presented for Scholastic, 2Simple and BrainPop because I wanted to thank them for their help both in my school and with events such as Teachmeet as well. The networking is crucial for me. Sharing ideas is where it is at now and if that has to happen at a sales exhibition then fine. Long may it continue. I think next year Takeover will get even bigger, I think we will be able to extend it to other stands as they realise it draws the crowds. I also think that Teachmeet will be bigger, if possible, and lots of people want to help support it. This has its drawbacks too and I mentioned on Friday night (and to 2 companies on Saturday). I would rather these companies didn’t support TMBett2012, but supported the smaller local TMs instead. These need promotion and help much more than Bett does.
One last thing before I thank some people, there were a huge amount of non-UK visitors at Bett in my opinion. Is this because UK teachers can’t get out of class? Or because they’ve been before and aren’t interested in seeing the same old stuff again?
Huge thanks to @digitalmaverick, @iusher and @tomhenzley for their help in organising Teachmeet. Big thanks to all of the sponsors for their support and to @naace for stepping up to sort out the financial problems we had!
I want to say a massive thank you to Chris Ratcliffe (@chrisrat). He has been absolutely amazing to everyone and he makes a huge difference. His stand is full of things people need (chocolate and phone chargers), he hosts Teachmeet Takeovers, he takes photos of Teachmeets and other events and will listen and support us with everything. Chris is a complete legend and everyone should be aware of how hard he has worked for us all.
Eylan (@eylanezekiel) and the other guys on Brainpop are also fantastic. Their stand was in a fab location this year and seemed very buys which just goes to show that what they have to offer is really fantastic. My favourite thing about them (apart from Moby, the badges and the calendars…) is that they LISTEN! If a school wants to discuss pricing and trial length or how to use it with a particular group of children, they listen and make suggestions. If every company worked like they did, Bett would be a different place.
Another company that really knows what’s happening is 2Simple. Their stand looked amazing and was buzzing constantly. It was great to see @2simplekatie, @2simpleant and @simplekatherine as well as meeting @2simplegemma and the others. I had a great time on their stand it the enthusiasm is very contagious!
Also thank you to Andrea Carr for her continued support and help with everything. Always good to catch up and discuss ideas! It’s a shame I didn’t get much chance to be on their stand. Thanks to @chrismayoh @icklekaty and @foresterjo for a great saturday night too!
It really has been a great few days and I would honestly say I have met some great people and I would definitely call many of them friends. It’s just a shame that we only meet up once or twice a year! Thanks to all of you for everything. Chatting, sharing ideas and collaborating not just at Bett, but throughout the year.
Finally I want to thank Charlie for being supportive and not whinging (too much) about the work I’ve been doing lately preparing for Teachmeets and the presentations. She truly is amazing. That reminds me, I really should go and cook her some dinner.