Google Educator Group (GEG) Iligan had its inaugural meetup last July 18, 2014. Since our GEG launching, we had three meet-ups: Doodgle4Google Workshop, an after class meetup and the Teachers’ Fair 2014.

As a GEG community leader, I have compiled the following list of lessons I and my core group learned during the preparation and implementation of the various GEG Iligan events.

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1. Invite at least two teachers from private schools

People are motivated to join events for various reasons. Some go because they want to stay at the cutting edge. Some go to get inspired, as they are surrounded by a large group of people that share the same mindset.

In our experience, some participants attended the GEG inaugural meetup because they knew someone who will be there too. Most of the public school teachers who joined the event knew teachers from other public schools.

Most public school teachers are acquainted because they have attended cluster activities during the school year, an opportunity that is rarely accessible to teachers from private schools. So, we decided to invite at least two teachers from private schools so that they will not feel left-out during the first meeting.

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2. Establish connections with local business owners for potential sponsorships

GEG Philippines provided most of our needs for the inaugural meetup, but we still needed extra funds for t-shirts and other incidental expenses. To address this problem, our group decided to give out sponsorship letters to business establishment owners.

From this experience, we learned that business owners are more likely to sponsor your event if you know them personally. While we also invited guest entrepreneurs, they responded by saying that they would call us; however they never did.

Consequently, it would serve GEG members well if they establish relationships with business owners for future support-raising activities.

Our official partner for the inaugural meetup was Smart Telecom. I was personally introduced to the marketing manager of Smart Iligan last year during a school fund-raising event. She must have attended a lot of events since then, because she didn’t remember me when I re-introduced myself. Smart supported the event just the same, providing us with Internet connection and raffling two pocket wifi gadgets to the teacher participants.

Over the months, we had been intentional in building relationships with local business establishments. For instance, there’s this cozy and small café near the school called The Fruh. We conduct GEG Iligan core group meetings in the place and now the business owner is familiar with what we do. When we gave out a letter for sponsorship to the café owner, she gladly said that she will support our upcoming teachers’ fair.

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3. Look for local organizations that you can partner with in a GEG event.

We thought it would be nice to have a photo booth and hire a professional photographer for record-keeping during the inaugural meetup. However, this plan was beyond our budget, so we decided to contact city-based formal or informal interest groups who might be interested in using their talents for free.

In fact, I was able to invite two photographers from Clique, a student photojournalists’ group, to partner with us. They stayed during the four-hour affair, taking pictures free of charge. Moreover, in the spirit of volunteerism, I requested a blogger / teacher from the Iligan Blogger’s Society to write an article about the event to augment our online presence.

During the Doodle 4 Google Workshop, we tapped volunteers from HalongKulay, a visual arts enthusiasts group in Iligan. The HalongKulay members gave some key points in creating doodles and helped in facilitating more than 80 students during the art workshop. Consequently, we requested for emcees from ABEO, an organization of English major students. ABEO provided two stage play actresses, Bianca and Lyn, who made the event more lively and entertaining.

For the teachers’ fair, we collaborated with the ICT team of the College of Education. GEG Iligan core group members are good friends with the ICT team members and so it’s an enjoyable thing to work along with them for the preparation of the event. Moreover, teachers’ fair will involve our local group partners: HalongKulay for the stage decoration, ABEO for the emcees and trivia game and Clique for picture-taking.

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4. Have an open forum

Filipinos and Asians in general, like to share their experiences with other people and ask questions to the speakers and organizers during events. This was apparent during the event.

We capped the lecture series with a talk entitled “Future Directions of GEG Iligan.” The discussion included participants’ profile information, such as age, school, type, gender, subject area, etc., and the common interests of the group. Data was collated from a Google form they filled up prior to the event proper.

After the talk, we provided time for the participants to ask questions based on the data presented and the talks given earlier. We received lots of questions. As a result, it became a very significant part of the meet-up.

 

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5. Thank your sponsors and speakers

Don’t forget to say thank you to your local sponsors. We know that this is a basic thing to do, but we often neglect going the extra mile to show our gratitude.

Aside from thanking the sponsors in person, we also gave out certificates and tokens. We understood that these tangible presents help make sponsors remember our events, and this in turn builds a continuing partnership.

Same thing applies to your speakers. In our experience, we give t-shirts to our speakers during meetups and ask them to wear it during their talk.

 

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Some reminders for GEG Leaders

Participants come and go. Some teachers who joined the inaugural meet-up did not attend the meet-ups that followed after that. Do not be sad if this happens, it’s just the natural way of how things go when it comes to follow-up events.

Establish good relationship with your partners. It’s good to spend time with your volunteers even when it’s not a GEG event. This will assure them that you are interested with their lives and not just with what they can contribute to GEG.

Never work alone. I have a fear of delegation but thankfully I have gradually outgrown that feeling. Whenever there’s a concern with a GEG meetup, I always inform my core group so that they can help me out in making a decision. Also, it is a fun thing when I work with my core group and it’s true when they say “the more, the merrier!”

Don’t forget to have fun. Teachers have stressful days in schools. Design GEG meetups to be fun and light while teachers learn new insights or skills. Always challenge yourself to inspire and be inspired.

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