How To Run A Killer TeachMeet (Even When It’s Your First One)

Ambitious Resilience, Belonging, Change & Reinvention, Human First Leadership

I get asked to do a lot of stuff for free. And, some requests don’t even involve cake.

My WHY is to be a catalyst for change – a door opener for people to lead, so I always want to start with a yes.

Unfortunately, Aldi doesn’t look too kindly on people trying to pay for sausages with a world changing WHY.

In fact, neither does Waitrose – though the checkout guy at least smiled when he explained, ‘Yeah, that wouldn’t work for us. People usually just use a card.’

So, until my groundbreaking patent for a working Flux Capacitor attracts even one single investor, I’m forced to charge for my services!

I get around this by allocating a certain amount of my time each term to gift to non-profit events run by anyone who is passionate about celebrating the difference teachers make.

So when a stranger contacts me through Twitter and asks me to host her first TeachMeet, agrees to cover my travel and tells me they’ll be cake, I’m there!

The Power Of Ordinary Heroes

Helen Langeveld is a woman with a mission. To begin with she didn’t even have a school. Just a dream.

Then came a guy in a dress, a crumbling church hall, a load of flat packed play equipment that needed assembling and a TA who having trained to be a police officer decided he wanted to be a teacher and the dream became a reality.

Her team are small and include one of the most inspiring early years teachers I have had the pleasure of working with, the lovely Ella Maclot. After opening the school her next challenge was to host a TeachMeet! After all she was now an old hand having been to two already!

It was the usual affair with food, new friends and a few tired teachers turning up after a week of swatting stray wasps while administering SATs. But last night something magical happened.


It started with the first TeachMeet Screening of my TEDx Talk explaining how teachers – just like you – saved my life and are nothing less than ordinary heroes. Ever ready, Helen handed out boxes of tissues to those that connected with their own WHY for being a teacher and struggled to hold back the tears.

But that was only the beginning.

It continued when Ella, standing in front of several boxes of Rice Krispies, put forward an impassioned plea for Y6 teachers to incorporate play as a vehicle for learning.

It grew when Father David shared a few words before moving in a mysterious way and negotiating his own box to take away.

It certainly started to build when Leah Stewart shared a captivating poem using the words of 7 year old David.

When Megan shared how she had encouraged learners, teachers and parents to adopt more of a growth mindset using a fried egg the magic really began to fizz.


And when Matt talked about how learners transformed during outdoor learning in Forest School you could tell we were part of something bigger than ourselves.

Lesley Stevens made research accessible so that we could back up our crazy and not so crazy ideas in the classroom with solid evidence of success.

And the wonder that is Ella, talked about her passion for creating Happy Schools where staff – including leaders – walked the walk.

Then Lucky had us all on the edge of our seats with a £1 car boot sale key, reminding us our greatest tool for learning is curiosity.

Followed by Action Jackson. And if you have seen him you’ll know that its impossible to be around him without feeling wonderful about yourself!

But, for me, this is what summed up the evening.

The wonderful professional between a passionate head teacher and her inspirational TA laughing together. After all the hard work, the hoops we jump through as educators, the tears of frustration, to all comes down to this.

We’re Human First And Teachers Second.

Teaching is about relationships. Relationship with our learners, our colleagues and ourselves.

When we choose to build these relationships on a shared WHY of connection, contribution and commitment rather compliance, complaining, criticising we create something attractive and engaging that draws people in.

Helen – you did that for your community last night. You are a true leader and a gift to our profession. Thank you for including me in your dream.


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