Paul McGuire is a retired educator in Ottawa area. He has a keen interest in promoting technology as a progressive learning tool among the students in his school. Paul is active on Twitter (@mcguirp) and blogs on all sorts of topics, including climbing (climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in April), mental health, politics, a wide variety of education topics and anything else that comes to mind. His blog is called 'Whole Hearted', taken from the author and researcher Brené Brown, whom he admires greatly. Paul loves writing for Innovate My School and connecting to other writers and educators whenever possible.
I worked as a principal at a wonderful inner-city school in Ottawa, Canada. The school has a high immigrant population and many of our families live in poverty. This was my last assignment as principal and our little school afforded me wonderful opportunities to innovate and try new things.
In the first of this series on fundraising, I mentioned that due to the work I do in education and development. I have spent much of my time raising money for schools here in Canada or projects and programs in the Global South. The landscape has changed a great deal in the past decade. While I am still successful raising money for schools here in Canada, it has become increasingly difficult to raise money for projects in other countries.
It seems that everything I do requires fundraising. It has played a significant role in my life. I am an educator and have worked in a variety of schools for thirty-one years. I have also worked for a number of NGOs whose primary function was to support growth and development in the Global South.
For twenty years I have been involved in taking students and educators down to countries in the Global South - Mexico, the Dominican Republic and, more recently, El Salvador. I started doing these trips because one of our high school students needed a teacher to bring down a group of really motivated students. I had no idea of what I was getting myself into and on that first trip, and really saw myself as an observer rather than a teacher-leader.
Implementation of digital content seems to be widely misunderstood. You can’t just drop in a sophisticated digital programme without a really good implementation program. Like with everything in education, it comes down to the person. If teachers are ill-equipped to use new programs, they will fall back on traditional teaching methods.
The above is me after one of our training climbs - tweets intact! In my last post, on virtual reality, I wrote about how I could fly over Chicago or climb high mountains effortlessly. All you needed was Google Cardboard. Well, what do you do if you want to document a real adventure?
Today, I visited Chicago, a beautiful city. I also climbed Zermatt in Switzerland, and later took part in a study on sharks swarming over a wreck in the ocean. My equipment was quite simple: a smartphone, two little lenses, some cardboard and an elastic. Pretty simple, but ingenious. A virtual reality experience through Google Cardboard.
If you’re a member or school leadership or administration, there are so many things to consider, but really, the first thing should be the welfare of the teachers at your school. How do you do this? Well, how often is this a topic for discussion among administrators? Not hardly enough. The fact is, there are very few people in a school whose main job is really to ensure that teachers are well supported and cared for. The principal or headteacher is at the top of this list.
One thing that I have found is that to have a successful makerspace in your school, you need to keep up the momentum. What are the new activities that need to be added? How do we integrate what we are making with our curriculum? How do we get more teachers and students involved in maker culture?
One of the most important parts of my job has to do with finding new ways to connect our parent community to the school. In some areas where I have worked this has not been a big problem. I have experienced schools with strong parent councils, and parents groups who have the time to put a great deal of time and resources into the school.
We are witnessing a huge sea change in the way education is being offered in our schools now. Devices are cheaper than ever, and it is now an option to provide a machine to every student in a school. Whether it is through BYOD, or the whole-scale purchase of technology for the classroom, 1:1 is becoming a reality in all of our schools.