Lesson #1... You can not put on a conference yourself. A team formed in the spring to organize a Memphis TeachMeet but when the date and place was set co hosts were scarce. Decisions were made with a collegue but putting things into action was done solo. It is hard to committee yourself because everyone is busy, crazy busy. But pulling off an event involves team work. I can't be more appreciative to Cathy Kyle and Cindy Brock for stepping up and helping me.
Lesson #2... You can't make a crowd appear. Publicity is a must. Selling the idea of attending a conference that benefits your job is one that is hard to push, especially when you don't get credit for professional development by attending. The date, time, length of event matters. But then you have to get your working friends to buy into it and want to come. Apparently my town is one that likes ideas but the flame tends to poof out at the last minute. This was a strange learning experience to me because I am all excited about my online professional learning environment. I twitter, blog read, podcast feed, etc with others who are apparently on board and enthusiastic about giving of their time to growing professionally too. So it was very hard for me to realize that many, many people weren't as thrilled and as excited as me about a free unconference learning event such as my little TeachMeet TN.
Lesson #3 or really my opinion...I don't think door prizes are needed in TeachMeets. Folks should be going just to learn, network, and be inspired. Conference organizers should not have to dangle a carrot infront of people to coerce them into coming. People should come for the sake of improving their skills for the kids benefits. If you have to have door prizes then you need sponsers. Sponsers are vendors. Teachers (conference attendees) aren't the ones purchasing stuff for their schools and aren't the money buying decision makers for the schools. So vendors at TeachMeet that are selling a product that you have to pay for is silly and awkward.
With my little lessons and my first day off of school for a fall break I had a little idea pop up in my head. If it is the online learning network that gets just as excited as me about learning and growing my skills for the kids then why don't we have a Cyber TeachMeet? Elluminate sessions could work, but might make some folks nervous about being in control of that. So I propose a skyped ustream Cyber TeachMeet. At my little TeachMeet I skyped in @cybraryman1, @ColinTGraham, and @dughall. There sessions were just as fantastic as the presenters in person. It was so simple too! So why not create a CyberTeachMeet by getting other educators to share via skype, I'll project their stuff through Ustream and share it with others. The chat room that goes with Ustream will give the cyber attendees a place to talk, raise questions, etc and I can be their voice to the skyping presenter. What do you think? Interested?