It’s not often that I can get my hands on my staff, (not literally of course), to be able to run large scale Professional Learning to one of our four sub schools, or if I am extremely lucky, our entire (220) staff!
As much as I enjoy the smaller and more personalised approach to coaching and coordinating Professional Learning, especially either one on one or within teaching teams, that ability to deliver key messages to a larger cohort is always is something I find needs to take place. This ensures that same message is coming from one person, and is uniform across all teachers. What helps is having others spread those messages other than myself, which I am happy to say happens often!
With having a quite a few new staff teaching within our Middle Years sub school this year I felt the need to revisit a few key messages to ensure that the ideology behind how we go about integrating technology, effectively, is done so with one major thing in mind, and that being that good teaching comes first and the technology a second.
This is a message that I have been preaching religiously, no pun intended, for quite a while now. The importance that our number one craft is teaching and that that craft needs to be focused on and honed over time. The absolutely wonderful thing about this profession is that we can all do it in various ways which enrich, engage and foster the meeting of student learning outcomes. We are all charged with delivering a set curriculum however they way in which we as educators can go about that can be extremely varied to cater for our students needs. There are not many professions I feel that allow for differentiation to occur amongst its staff. Teaching is certainly one of those.
Technology Integration, for example, allows for an educator to drastically alter the way they not only deliver the curriculum, but also, and more importantly, the way that students choose to learn that same curriculum.
Way back in… 2009, when I first started at my current setting all students I taught were involved in a 1:1 MacBook Program. The 6 teachers, including myself had never encountered such a thing, that being a 1:1 program of any description. During those first few weeks it is safe to say we used those MacBooks all day every day which in the end turned out to be detrimental to our teaching programs. First lesson learnt, “Just because they have the technology does not mean you need to have them using it”.
After time we realised that it was the teaching that we need to get back to focusing upon. The way that we planned our curriculum and the ways that we were deliver the content were more important than the technology itself. The learning and teaching, that was the priority. Not that we felt the consistent need to use the technology because it was there, and it was certainly evident as the year progressed, that through having that technology support the learning and teaching that was taking place, where applicable, made greater inroads to supporting students than what it did at the beginning.
These thoughts have recently been reaffirmed to me in the form of another blog post written by Steve Wheeler, the ‘Associate Professor of learning technology in the Plymouth Institute of Education at Plymouth University’. Further to this, Steve’s credentials are too many to mention.I have had the pleasure of meeting him once at uLearn12 in Christchurch, New Zealand and have followed his blog and other learnings fairly intensely since then. At the time of writing this, his latest blog post, titled Learning first, technology second, talks in depth about this notion and the need to place, always place, learning before technology.
Below I have embedded the presentation I showed to my staff as well as a list of just a few of their responses relating to how I could assist them to become greater enablers of technology to support and enhance their programs.
Middle Years Sub School – Moving Forward with eLearning
- Classroom management with iPad management.
- Exploring Flipped Classroom concepts.
- Use of Social Media for sharing student work
- Use of ICT when students have limited access/support in the home (no internet/wifi)
- Improving student outcomes in maths through student led activities
- Using Edmodo
- Projecting students work on the Apple TV via their iPad,
- Classroom iPad management of students
- App Tutorials
- Assisting students making appropriate and relevant contributions to online class discussions
- Storing digital work
- Flipped Classrooms
- developing digital individual learning tasks
- How to manage student use of iPads more effectively.
- How students can create their own tutorials in different ways.