So the Worldwide Apple Distinguished Educator Institute has come to an end and it is time to reflect on what to take home from the experience. Over the 5 days it is hard to put into words the experience and the amount of inspiration that has been had from the 400 educators from around the world. From impactful stories to Virtual Reality the range of talent in the room is truly astounding.
This year the venue was Berlin, a City I have never been to before and one that I will certainly never forget. From the outside I am sure that these events look like a group of Apple fanboys getting together but I can assure you it is the Educator element of ADE that really shines at these events. When you see the stories of impact on children’s lives, it is hard to argue that the simple act of identifying what supports children in their learning is what makes the difference.
Leaving these events I always want to do everything I have seen, to support as many people as I can and to share every story that has inspired me, however previous experience has taught me to be selective and to take away the things that are most relevant to me (and then maybe some new projects to explore)
So what will I take away this time?
My project team started to look at STEAM education in Primary education, something that is relevant to me due to my area in University on the BA Primary course. I met a range of worldwide educators and we were able to discuss the impact of STEAM in the classroom and share stories of success. As the week went on it was clear that a smaller group had a slightly different view and that was….. How can we get teachers that are unsure of changing their practice, make that change? No easy task as I am sure it is what most CPD events are based around. Our thought process led us to the conclusion that no single teacher wants to give a bad education to children, some may seem disillusioned or even scared but with the right encouragement and purpose even they will want to make a great classroom experience for their students.
The idea simply boiled down to making slight changes in your practice, the simple tweak that turns your current lesson into a great lesson that allows for creativity, is based around a purpose and provides an audience. This project has its roots and will continue to develop along with the worldwide team of Stuart Hammersley @depipads Tina Zita @tina_zita Mike Lang @Chclteteacher Ann Jacobs and Tami Brewster @brewstami.
Another area that I will be focusing on this year will be the coding and programming area, it was great to discuss with teachers the impact that this area can have on students but so much more than simply making a robot move, the opportunities for discovery, enquiry, literacy and numeracy as well as many others are easy to see. It just takes a little imagination (which the students will have plenty of) and an open mind. Using these new tools such as Bloxels, Touchboard (Bare Conductive) Osmo and many others, allow students to explore their world in a different way.
I was honoured to have the opportunity to share a part of my recent story to other ADEs, since January I have been trying to look at how we in teacher training can change the culture of teaching so that the things I hear about at institute are no longer the stories of a few of the crazy ones, but actually become the normal everyday practice of teachers. I have recently finished a project working with trainee teachers in schools and allowing them to explore how technology has an impact and on which type of students. This project was a real success and in sharing it with others I was able to look deeper into how it can evolve to have even more impact and to a wider audience.
Crazy ideas sometimes are not that crazy
In the middle of the week we had the chance to take part in a learning walk around Berlin, the idea being that if you took a class on a field trip, how could you document the trip and make use of that information to develop further learning opportunities. The silly idea was to go into Berlin, visit the main tourist attractions and to create an eBook based on Where’s Wally?, instead it would be Where’s ADE? We would hide in the image and the reader would have to find one of us. In all honesty this was just a silly idea but as we got into completing it we could actually see the educational benefit of creating a game book. If you want to take a look you can download it here.
The biggest take away from these events are the connections that you make. Sometimes it is hard to continue the drive in your area if not everyone around you shares the vision, I met many people that are the only one in their institution that can see the alternative to the boring test driven curriculums we have, I have been there myself. The chance to meet and spend time with a group of inspirational educators can really fire that rocket inside you to make a real difference and believe in your crazy ideas. It is often said that these people will always be friends for life, well that is certainly true.
One more thing
Finally, it was nice to meet my long lost twin from Mexico.