Contributors to The TES online staffroom have begun a virtual speed-dating thread. The aim is for teachers, unable to fit conventional speed-dating between the marking and the report-writing, to try out the experience online.
The TES thread started slowly. Eager females posted their vital statistics, and waited for men to join in. Waited. And waited.
Finally, greeted by the fevered announcement "IT'S A MAAANNNN!!!!!!!!", a handful of slightly overwhelmed males began to respond.
A hesitant start, but within six days there were 48 pages, filled with almost 500 messages. The idea was to recreate the rapid-fire questioning of a three-minute speed-date. Contributors faced questions such as: "Who is your role model? What is your favourite smell?"
Repeated refrains of "freshly cut grass" quickly grew tiresome and questions became more searching.
"Fizzy or plain water?" asked one putative dater. "What's the sexiest musical instrument?" And the passionate cry of one teacher: "Is diagnostic assessment really another kind of summative assessment or formative assessment?" This drew the flirtatious response: "I don't mind if you don't have a sixpack, but I like constant feedback and target-setting."
Inevitably the online format led to confusion. "Hello there AJ," said one contributor (male, straight). "You're a most engaging character."
Unfortunately AJ was also male.
One participant who posted his picture on the board, was told "not sure you are my type". Two hundred posts later, he exchanged email addresses with a woman teaching in the same city.
As participants happily bantered online, the teacher who had initiated the thread enthused: "This is fab. I feel like Cilla."