In my role as Literacy Coordinator, I am part of many professional development sessions with the teachers in our division. For the last few sessions we have been using TodaysMeet (www.todaysmeet.com) to live stream comments and questions while the session is running. The participants are able to connect to each other in real time and share their thoughts and reflections while the session is running. At the end of the session there is a record of the running commentary of the day’s work that can be used for further reflection.
I have made a few observations of using Today’s Meet with teachers. First of all, it takes a little bit to get teachers going. They seem to be tentative putting their thoughts out there for everyone to see. Secondly, not everyone likes to be “connected” during the session. Some teachers have commented that they find it distracting. Teachers need differentiation too! In order to meet everyone’s learning needs, I don’t expect everyone to use the back channel throughout the day but I make sure to build in opportunities in the session where everyone has to add something to TodaysMeet. The teachers who like this kind of learning will continue to use the back channel throughout the session and it is amazing to see the conversation grow. It is exciting to see the evolution from simple connections to deep reflective questions that take the professional learning to a whole new level.
I personally like back channelling because I need time to reflect and talk to process new information. With a tool like TodaysMeet I can meet my learning needs without bugging the person beside me with my random thoughts.
Some of the teachers have even taken back channelling to their classrooms and have set up meeting rooms with their students. It’s just another way to encourage reflection and collaboration with students. I was fortunate enough to be invited into a meeting room with a Grade 7/8 class one afternoon. I was able to be part of the classroom learning while I was working in my office and it expanded the audience for the students. Knowing there was someone else outside their classroom joining in with them made the learning more relevant and even helped with some of the management. The teacher commented that having me join in made the learning very real for them (and it pretty much eliminated their off-topic comments).
TodaysMeet is easy to set up, no login information is required and best of all it’s FREE. You can set up a room for a couple of hours, days, weeks, or a month. At the end of the conversation, you can print out a transcript to keep as a record of the learning that happened.