What do a giant pickled squid, virtual-reality masks, a group of teachers, cultural and digital providers and the original Wellington boot all have in common? They are, of course, the perfect ingredients for a lively and inspiring TeachMeet.

For the uninitiated, a TeachMeet is simply a group of teachers and educators coming together to share ideas – usually over a glass of wine (or two). TeachMeets started as small meetings in a pub or over dinner and are now running all over the UK, often as an event after a conference – an ‘unconference’.

a photo of a group of people looking at bits of paper and grinning to each other

All rights owned by Tom Parsons Photography

At Waterloo 200 we recently attended – and sponsored – our first TeachMeet, at The Museum of London. Organised by Culture24, this TeachMeet brought teachers together with curators and learning providers from museums, galleries, arts and digital organisations. Through a lively mix of ‘lightning’ talks, playful interactions and challenges, the event showcased exciting ways to use digital resources and cultural collections to bring classroom learning to life.

Hosted by Educational Consultant Eylan Ezekial, the evening kicked off with a welcome from Waterloo 200’s Chair of Trustees Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter. Evelyn introduced us to Waterloo 200’s innovative Age of Revolution project – a rich blend of online resources for teachers, and digital challenges for schools exploring revolutions past and present through cultural collections from across the UK.

It was then over to Eylan, whose fruit-machine-style randomiser kept everyone on their toes and made sure no-one was quite sure what was coming next. First up – Ready Steady Teach! A twist on Ready Steady Cook, challenging teachers to combine randomly selected online artefacts with a digital tool, and come up with a curriculum-linked project. In under five minutes.

a photo of a portriat of wellington and Nelson and a pair of leather boots

The only meeting of Wellington and Napoleon (copyright National Portrait Gallery) and a pair of Wellington boots (English Heritage. Photography Relic Imaging Ltd.).

Highlights from Waterloo 200’s fascinating set of online objects played a starring role as teacher Dawn Hallybone used the original Wellington boots and a portrait of Nelson and Wellington’s only meeting to cook up a great cross-curricular D&T/History/Science project exploring the design of uniforms through the ages.

Oliver Quinlan, from Raspberry Pi combined his love of music and technology and devised an activity using GarageBand to create a soundtrack inspired by the story of a giant pickled squid – well, who wouldn’t?!

a composite of three photos showing people using VR glasses and chap talking in front of a screen

Playing with virtual reality and enjoying some Raspberry Pi with Oliver Quinlan. All rights owned by Tom Parsons Photography

Oliver (link above) inspired us to bring ideas to life through digital making in Raspberry Pi’s Raspberry Jam community sessions.

Headteacher Bill Lord urged cultural organisations to make connections with children in rural Lincolnshire schools who can ‘tell you anything about potatoes, lettuce & things that drop bombs’ and are hungry for rich cultural engagement.

Museum Education Officer Kay Topping introduced us to #Museum5aDay, an online campaign promoting wellbeing in the museum sector through five simple actions. Something we could all benefit from in our daily working lives!

Pobble showed us their online Literacy platform, where teachers can find and share teaching resources and give children a purpose and global audience for their writing.

a composite mage of two people talking to a seated audience

Lincolnshire Head Teacher Bill Lord and Dawn Hallybone of Oakdale Junior School, London. All rights owned by Tom Parsons Photography

The Shakespeare Schools Foundation brought some heritage grammar to the proceedings, and we all happily offended each other using adjectives and nouns from their Shakespearean insult generator. “Thou art a purpled, onion-eyed canker-blossom!”

Teacher Pran Patel, talked about inward and outward facing leadership in schools, and the power of social media to ‘find your tribe and start a revolution’.

The evening ended with Teacher Carol Allen’s use of artworks from online cultural collections. She used this Seurat painting to develop skills in children who have difficulty with visual perception, such as picking out individual objects from a ‘busy’ scene – like the butter in a fully stocked fridge, or a t-shirt in a full wardrobe or, in this case this, a parasol, a dog, a sail boat….

a piontilist painting of a busy turn of the century Parisian park fulled with people next to a lake

Georges Seurat: A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884, 1884/8 © The Art institute of Chicago

The TeachMeet ended all too soon, with no time for what promised to be interesting talks from Arts Award associate Julie Neville and Teaching fellow Victoria Grace. They were kind enough to share their presentations: Digital Arts and Technology and Working together towards a manifesto for a popular heritage in a digital age.

So how would you use an online image of an original wellington boot to bring classroom learning to life? Or what about a set of Waterloo teeth or a protest banner from the Peterloo Massacre?

a composite photo showing a Librty banner and a set of dentures

A protest banner carried to the Reform meeting convened by the Manchester Radical Union at St Peter’s Field in Manchester on 16 August 1819. Copyright Touchstones Rochdale. A set of dentures fitted with real human teeth, extracted from the mouths of the dead. Victoria Gallery & Museum, University of Liverpool. Photography Relic Imaging Ltd.

Over the next three years, Waterloo 200’s Age of Revolutions project will bring together the best ideas, cultural resources and new technologies to connect school children with revolutions of the past and explore revolutions in their own lives. As the project gathers momentum towards 2020, we’ll be spreading the word and involving as many creative minds as we can through a series of TeachMeets across the UK

Fancy being involved in the next TeachMeet? Maybe you’ve got a great idea for connecting children with culture and heritage in the classroom. Or are using digital technologies to bring ideas to life or to start your own classroom revolution. Or perhaps you’d just like to spend an evening chatting to like-minded people over a glass of wine. Let us know. We hope to see you there!

With thanks to Elan Ezekial, Culture24, the Museum of London and all the speakers who gave their time and shared their great ideas.

Photographs by Tom Parsons www.tomparsons.co.uk

Find out even more from Culture 24’s Twitter storify: #TMCulture24 and Eylan’s blog.

Written by Anna Husband annahusband.com.