Apple Distinguished Educator 2017
The next round of applications to be an Apple Distinguished Educator is about to start, I have been advising colleagues who are aiming to through the same processes as I did in 2015. Being an ADE has been hugely rewarding for me and I have been asked by Apple to present and run workshops on many occasions since my selection. It is certainly something I would recommend to colleagues to pursue, however, the selection process is substantial and competitive.
My application from the class of 2015
I started to look back through my own successful application from 2 years ago and wanted to post some of that process to help other applicants.
1.How have you as an educator transformed your learning environment?
The biggest transformation I have been involved in as an educator, has been transforming the culture and ethos of the school in the way we use and view technology. We believe and see technology as an integral part of our whole curriculum. It is vital that through the use of technology our students are enquiring, creative, adaptable, collaborative and responsible users. We are continually developing our students to be effective life-long learners. We are using the transformative power of technology by successfully and purposefully embedding its use as part of our whole ethos. As the Lead Primary School Technology Integration Coach I have been successfully leading this transformation in my learning environment. Ensuring that technology is used to enhance the teaching and learning and improve the learning environment for our entire community.
Integral to our journey has been a process of training and developing our staff through professional development and reflection. I have successfully incorporated and used an effective coaching model in order to achieve this. I run targeted professional development sessions, team teaching and modelling good practice. Empowering staff to run sessions, share good practice and celebrate success is also essential. I train, challenge, support and advise staff in our learning journey together. One of my strengths is my ability to communicate with others and establish positive, professional working relationships. I coach colleagues to continually develop their practice through their use of technology. The creative resources and huge opportunities available enables me to coach our staff to adopt the role of a facilitator in the students learning process. The students can direct their own learning and pace through access to flipped learning resources. This allows the teachers to spend more quality time facilitating the learning and encouraging creativity and quality.
I am hugely involved in the development of our curriculum by planning collaboratively with all key members of staff then developing and actioning short term and long term goals. For an effective transformation to take place we must focus on the learning first and foremost and that comes from the development of relevant objectives and authentic learning experiences. As an educator I believe I have raised the profile of technology and its effective use in all my learning environments. I have been instrumental in transforming the way my colleagues educational philosophies and realise the importance of this for true institutional change.
2. Illustrate how Apple technologies have helped in this transformation.
The use of Apple Technologies has been integral to this transformation. We Apple technologies throughout the school and believe it’s important that we have a consistent platform that our staff and students all use together. The products are already familiar to our wider community and they are intuitive and easy to use while still having scope for challenging industry standard applications. As a school we really benefit from how using one technology allows easy integration of services and a being able to ensure a consistent level of staff training and development in its applications.
The biggest illustration of how Apple Technologies have helped in transforming our schools ethos has been in the successful launch of our Bring Your Own Device One to One iPad Scheme. We launched the initiative last January throughout Years 5-8 and have since announced our extension to the Years 4-10 starting next academic year. Using the iPad has allowed us to really showcase the power of mobile learning. The device is portable and powerful which we have really utilised in developing filmmaking skills as through Apps like iMovie every student has access to a film studio style applications. It was important that the students could own their own devices and personalise their use so they have can access to the resources they need when they need them. Through the iPad students are able to take control over their learning and select the best way to work that suits their learning styles. Our approach is to offer authentic learning experiences for our students and we felt selecting the iPad meant that students were using a device that is also having a huge application in the professional field.
We use a range of Apple Technologies in the school and we see it as important that the students learn why and how to select the right tool for their purpose. They could be composing a soundtrack using Garageband on an iMac to taking photos in interesting locations using an iPad. The way Apple Technologies seamlessly blends together is a big advantage for the learners. Using Apple TV is has also allowed the Teacher to step away from having to be at the front of the class and now students can mirror onto display screens. This has helped reinforce the model of Teachers becoming facilitators also.
As an educator I’m also keen to explore how learning spaces can be used effectively to impact on the learning and open up possibilities. Through using a mix of Apple Technologies I’m developing my own innovation lab to as a space to showcase innovation and learning throughout the school. I’m keen to evaluate how the space is used and how it will influence our thinking for developing future spaces in our environment to better meet the needs of our progressing curriculum.
3. What successes have you seen with your learners?
We have already seen lots of successes with our learners. They have become more independent through the freedom to choose how they learn. This involves having access to different resources, formulating ideas in different ways and choosing how to create, share and present. Students have shown increased confidence by being able to express themselves in different ways, reluctant writers, for instance, are able to record and tell their stories through different mediums. I have especially seen through our iPad initiative an increased level of responsibility with our learners. As the device belongs to the student they are responsible for looking after it and using it responsibly. We also emphasize their responsibility of being a responsible online citizen and they can experience this through safe but authentic environments.
The students having increased access and confidence in how they use technologies has enabled us to really emphasize the quality of the work they produce. As they are more confident users we can teach higher level skills. This approach formed the basis of a 2 Day Enquiry using iMovie and iTunes U. We used a flipped learning approach by delivering all the resources and content through iTunes U and the emphasis was on teaching film making skills and the students producing a film of a much higher level of quality. The students were working in vertical groups across year groups and were challenged to collaborate and communicate effectively.
We have seen huge successes in how our iPad initiative has complemented and enhanced our Enquiry Based curriculum. The learners have the flexibility and freedom to explore their own lines of enquiry in an authentic setting. This has allowed for a greater level of engagement and deeper understanding of the learning processes for both the student and teacher.
I am a firm believer in student-led initiatives. I established, and have since been very proud to work with, a group of Student Technology Leaders. The group have been working with other students and sharing their knowledge and expertise. This has allowed them to develop leadership and organisational skills. A huge success was when the Student Technology Leaders invited our parent community in to demonstrate and showcase how we were using iPads in particular in our curriculum.
4. How do you share these successes to influence the broader education community?
As an educator we have a responsibility to share our success with the broader education community in order to continually enrich and develop it. We had great success through our recent enquiry days which was evident through the quality of film the students produced. We have made the course publicly available through iTunes U so other schools can implement it. Sharing resources like this allows us to celebrate our success and share our ethos with a wider community.
I am actively engaged with my professional learning network and use various platforms to share our successes. I tweet and blog as well as joining online learning communities. I also ensure that our success is shared throughout our own school community. We also host colleagues from other institutions who wish to visit our school and regularly hold conferences. Last year I was part of the team that organized, presented at and ran the FOBISIA ICT Conference at Garden International School. I also attend conferences around the Asia area as an excellent way to learn from and network with other practitioners.
As the future of our student’s educations become further entwined with the use of technology, it will be vital to have school communities at the forefront of safe, seamless and effective technological integration. I believe our role as educators is to be able to provide the guidance and engage with our school communities, which in turn will help to broaden the education community as school communities play a vital part in education.