Thanks to Alex Fairlamb and Andrew Sweet for this blogpost about the wonderful TMHistoryIcons. What a superb example of subject specialist community in action and the next in our series of blogposts about sources of support for history teachers:
History and history teachers are at the heart of TMHistoryIcons, a not for profit organisation, founded by Tom Rogers four years ago. The philosophy of the event has always been to provide high quality, high impact and free CPD for history teachers, by history teachers, by blending keynotes from historians and noted history practitioners, alongside practical pedagogy form the chalk face of the classroom in the form of a teach meet. At the heart of this is also the drive to encourage the history community to come together, celebrate and share their expertise.
In March 2019, at the TES HQ in Sheffield, the fourth national event attracted 140 teachers from across the country (and beyond!) with livestream audiences as far as Canada and Australia. On a Saturday, in a jam-packed seven hours, the event comprised three historians, a series of authors and bloggers and a teach meet which included a cross section of first time speakers, NQTs and experienced teachers. This ties in with the philosophy of the event, that the event is for all history teachers at whichever career stage; all levels of experience are welcomed and championed.
This year’s keynote speakers were historian Marc Morris (author of the Norman Conquest, and King John), Ben Walsh (Associate Vice President of HA), Sally Thorne (author of Becoming an Outstanding History Teacher) and Russel Tarr (author of The History Teacher Toolkit and creator of Active History). Talks and teach meets explore both history content and skills, ranging from developing vocabulary at KS3 and source skills, to Black Tudors and re-thinking how women’s history is integrated into schemes of learning. The focus of the talks and selection of the teach meet applicants is based upon themes that we see emerging within history education, alongside feedback and suggestions from previous events or Twitter.
The feedback was extremely positive with many noting that the theme of diversity provided plenty of food for thought when considering curriculum maps. Carmel Bones (@bones_carmel) told us “the experience was truly uplifting and the feedback I hear universally glowing. I’m giving you a standing ovation”. The event is live-streamed so that many more practitioners can participate in the day and benefit from the work being shared. The streams also form a video library on our YouTube page, enabling teachers to revisit the talks and include them within their departmental meetings. We are very proud that many people comment about the community feel of the day and tell us how many connections they have now made with others who work in history, building firm friendships.
Behind TMHistoryIcons is a team of six full time history teachers who have volunteered to run the conference. With Tom, and more recently Alex, taking overall lead, the conference is planned to the finest detail by direct messaging. We rarely meet given that two of the team live in Romania and Slovenia, and the rest live in varying corners of the country. Our love for the event and commitment to it mean that there are regular message discussions, with the communication around all of the planning, sponsorship. bookings, catering – even the takeaway bags – assigned to each of us to lead on. The conference is very much our collective effort to bring together what we consider to be a history conference to be proud of.
In the banner image you can see the TMHistoryIcons family from left to right: Scott Allsop, Alice Southern, Tom Rogers, Alex Fairlamb, Andrew Sweet and Carol Stobbs.
The event is free and this is due to our incredible sponsors. Their generosity and participation means that we are able to deliver an ambitious timetable for the day and that they can share their expertise too. Sponsor presentations and sponsors stalls mean that delegates can try out VR technology to experience the Western Front, learn about museum workshops to enhance learning, and discover a range of technological tools to support history classrooms such as videos and pupil progress tracking.
By connecting history practitioners with experts in their fields, our aim is to ensure that delegates leave impassioned with ideas and strategies, but also ideas about wider organisations can help to realise and support those ideas.
Legacy is something very important to TMHistoryIcons, and this is something that has really begun to take shape with the evolution of the event into a wider organisation; a family of subject specific TMIcons events, of which TMHistoryIcons is one. Additionally, the weekly @TMHistoryIcons hour (Thursday, 8-9pm) on Twitter enables the dialogue to continue throughout the year.
On behalf of the team, thank you for taking the time to read about our event and we would love to see you at the next one!