DISPLAYING ITEMS BY TAG: CPD

The overload of information on the internet poses a problem for time-strapped teachers, who have to trawl search engines for resources that are appropriate for their subject and class. It was this problem that, in Autumn 2014, we decided to tackle head-on with the creation of TeachPitch, a platform that curates free teaching resources and lets you search these for the perfect resource.

Since then we have had tens of thousands of users from over 130 countries, providing direct access to over hundreds of thousands of resources and with millions more available via our dedicated premium content providers.

We are so proud of the work we have done, but we have come to understand that dealing with information abundance is only one part of a wider issue; the digital capability of teachers. In a report in 2016 (page 9) the UK Government recommended that:

“Employers should ensure existing staff have the training to keep their digital skills updated, and develop active recruitment and development strategies to maximise the digital skills of their workforce at all times.”

We know that teachers are still not always offered this level of support, and we want to help solve this bigger problem with a resource that is relevant to them. This is why we are very excited to announce a brand new online teacher-training platform solely focussed on fully engaging teachers as professionals in a rapidly evolving new Digital Economy.

We are extremely proud to present: the Digital Skills Course.

This course consists of a series of 20+ webinars given by expert tutors over one year, accessible via our innovative, exclusive training platform. Registered teachers will be able to enjoy online training in a variety of topics, from video teaching & learning, using tech to identify and address student special needs, and digital educational content creation. The course also addresses tech matters that are further out there, such as virtual/augmented reality, the role of the blockchain in education, introduction to coding, and so much more.

With this course, we aim to improve teachers’ digital awareness and introduce them to the way that digital tools and methods will change how teaching takes place in the future. We want to provide the teachers of today with the skills to teach the students of tomorrow. We are working hard on the first release of the course; building the platform, testing it with real teachers and identifying the very best tutors to lead the webinars. We cannot wait to introduce the final product next month.

We have had great feedback so far. If you’d like to get involved with helping test the course, or keep updated about our progress, please email us at [email protected]. To find out more about TeachPitch, visit www.teachpitch.com.

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Innovate My School kindly invited me to ruminate on the theme of "edtech that schools might want to know about in 20/1819". Given that the Department for Education recently announced five areas where they think technology has the ability to create real positive change within the educational system, this seems like a useful starting point. With the usual caveats around implementation, training, and contextualised procurement, here are my suggestions:

Assessment

The DfE states: "Technology has the potential to make assessment far more effective and efficient – while reducing the time teachers spend on marking."

The Edtech Podcast view: If you’re looking for assessment tools, make sure they do more than multiple choice questions, but less than a NASA control centre. The idea is that tools give a clear picture of ‘progress’, so that you can step in with your specialist knowledge of a student’s particular circumstances to support. Many assessment tools now use algorithms to ‘personalise’ learning for a particular student: see CENTURY, Third Space Learning, Watson Education. Assessment focused on identifying personal effort in group work is also surfacing as the demand for collaborative skills intensifies: see Cambridge Assessment and, more generally, Classroom Monitor, GL Assessment, Earwig Academic Timelines, Unio by Harness, Pobble (for Literacy) and HegartyMaths (for Maths) are just a few to review.

Teacher CPD

The DfE states: "We know that for many teachers, individualised training opportunities away from school can be hard won, but there are now more options to take up online training, which can be more flexible and more cost effective."

The Edtech Podcast view: We think this is a massive WIN area, offering continual support and learning for teachers and leaders in a fast-moving world. There are multiple tools and services out there (outside of Twitter, podcasts, Facebook groups, Medium blogs and YouTube channels). Check out the likes of TeacherTapp, Makematic, Spongy Elephant, The Chartered College of Teaching, TeachPitch, HES, BlueSky Education, Onvu Learning and many more.

Administration and saving teachers time

The DfE states: "Innovative new technology can reduce the administrative burden on teachers – saving time and money. Already, moving from server-based systems to the cloud has saved a number of schools thousands of pounds and hours of time.”

The Edtech Podcast view: We have visited schools where the focus on saving teachers time has allowed a laser focus on student support. This is usually driven from leadership with teachers and follows Dom Norrish’s ‘Implementation Effect’ (how the tool is implemented is far more important that the quality of the tool). Where this heavy lifting is done effectively, it allows for huge efficiencies to be made and for teachers to be spending their time. Services range from entire cloud-based VLEs, to niche products around school timetabling or communications. Check out the likes of Microsoft, Google, GroupCall, Wonde, Firefly, Show My Homework, Edval Timetables, and Airhead to get started.

Inclusion

The DfE states: "Technology can help access and inclusion for children with different backgrounds and abilities. This can be especially powerful in supporting students to learn alongside other children irrespective of their needs."

The Edtech Podcast view: The potential for technology to assist learners previously held back by more traditional learning is great. On the show, we have talked about how voice technology might enhance the learning opportunities for those with Dyslexia, and Microsoft has brought out some great tools and enhancements in this area. Many of the “famous” YouTube channels - like HegartyMaths, Khan Academy, and MisterWooTube - started as a way to allow students who were unwell to be able to keep up with their peers whilst in the hospital or in the home. Where class sizes or societal status are an obstacle to learning, personalised technologies allow students to progress. See Microsoft OneNote, Lyfta, Connect Design, Dolphin Assistive Technology, British Dyslexia Association resources, Mrs Wordsmith, Mister WooTube, Edovo, Digiexams, Xprize, One Billion.

Adult education

The DfE states: "In an increasingly automated world, jobs are changing fast. Many adults want to learn new skills, but have responsibilities that make returning to a classroom or lecture hall difficult. That is why, as part of our National Retraining scheme, we will be offering online adult learning courses, including in digital skills."

The Edtech Podcast view: This is an area which is truly exploding, as we see the likes of WeWork ride on the back of a huge freelancer economy and become new global mega-brands - seemingly overnight. These freelancers are well aware that lifelong learning isn’t just a nice-to-have, but a necessity for continued employment. Juggling multiple roles, “gigs” and caring roles, these adult learners are embracing flexible learning opportunities. See FlatIron, WhiteHat, FutureLearn, General Assembly, Facebook with Freeformers, DigitalMe, Pluralsight, Lynda.com, Hub42, HowNow and many more. Knowing and understanding this world is a good starting place for preparing young people as they start to consider what to do after school.

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‘Innovation’ is an interesting word to me; not just because I’m ‘innovation lead’ at Aureus School, but because I think it is a word which (in education) seems to carry many preconceived images. If I say to you “Oh they’re an innovative teacher”, all too often the perception seems to be of a teacher who’s at home using the latest technology, whose classroom is awash with the latest teaching trends, and who leads CPD on “how to use your interactive whiteboard more effectively”.

This article on innovation covers none of that! I’m not dismissing edtech nor the associated innovations therein, but I am going to talk about the innovator's mindset.

The innovator's mindset is the true way every teacher can innovate in any setting! As I see it, said mindset comprises of four component parts:

  1. Review
  2. Do
  3. Review
  4. Re-do

If you can adopt the innovator’s mindset (and truly anyone can) you can make this academic year, and in fact every academic year, one in which you innovate in a meaningful way!

1. Review

This is about you the teacher, the subject specialist, and the pedagogical perfectionist. Take a moment or two to review your last academic year or even the last few. I suggest reviewing on two fronts:

Your subject. The content you’ve taught, the way it was received, and the impact it had. Make note of what went well, and what you think you could improve.

Your pedagogy. Review the way you taught your subject. Did you deliver content in a variety of ways? Did you adapt work for learners who were struggling? How good was your differentiation? Did you really stretch and challenge all your students? As part of this review, take to the internet and the educational bookstores, choose something on which you’d like to read up and refresh your knowledge. For example, spend an hour or so reading up on stretch and challenge ideas, and make some notes on things you could try to freshen up content you deliver in the new term.

2. Do

Teach. Get into your class and teach your stuff using the ideas you have read about. Adapt your technique based on both what worked last year and what could have been done better. Invite others into your class to watch you! Ask others if you can observe them teaching too.

Photo by Shane Global

3. Review

This time, don’t wait til the end of the academic year to review what is working in your class and what can be refined. My suggestion to support your most innovative year is that you make time in the first weekend of every half term break to pause and review what is going well, what can be done better, and choose a topic to brush up on. Look again at your subject and your pedagogy. Think about what you did in your classroom, what discussions you had with those who have observed you and what you’ve seen in others.

If you read up on stretch and challenge six weeks ago, then choose questioning this time and spend an hour reading up on ideas to better question in your classroom. Use these to develop new strategies that will help you deliver your content in the next term.

4. Re-do

Get back into your classroom with refined focus, content ready to be taught using techniques you have reviewed yourself and with colleagues, and perspective on your pedagogy you’ve refreshed.

It really is as easy as those four steps to keep your mindset innovative throughout an academic year!

...and 5! Sharing what you do to keep you on the innovative path

One extra tip to keep yourself innovating: Share! Sharing what you are doing with others is a great way to keep your mindset innovative! Consider creating your own blog, or even a shared blog with colleagues who agree to share your innovator's mindset this year. At the end of each half term, take it in turns to post about your term, what has gone well, what you’re considering changing, and what areas of your pedagogy you are reading up on. Innovation does not happen inside a bubble. Real innovation happens when you look outside yourself, your organisation, and even your sector to draw in inspiration for afar. To do this well you have to be sharing what you do.

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With the new academic year upon us, we wanted to introduce you to Manor Farm Community Junior School and their major successes with professional development, self-evaluation and improvement planning. Here, headteacher Andrew Sierant shares how the school eliminated the need for paper, raised the profile of professional development, and found an efficient new way to manage teacher and staff appraisals…

Do your school’s processes ensure that the right type of CPD is being provided to the right people at the right time? And crucially, is the impact measured? Countless studies tell us that carefully-designed, insightful staff CPD can help raise standards and pupil attainment, as well as positively contributing to staff retention and recruitment, welfare, happiness and morale. However, research (Goodall, Day et al, 2005) suggests that many providers don’t have sufficient evaluation processes in place.

Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement.” - William Grosvenor Pollard (1911 - 1989), physicist / priest

One of the defining characteristics of successful schools is how they deliver assessment. How effective a school is at assessment goes a long way to determining how they are perceived by parents and other stakeholders. Assessment is mission-critical in the constant drive for “school improvement”, a buzz-phrase has now become a key strategy outcome for school leaders.

Most schools use formative assessment throughout the year, and then have some sort of test at the end as practice for SATs. This data-handling may be done via a commercial system, a tracking system they have created in-house, or through one of the paper-based approaches that many schools are still using. It doesn’t matter which method you choose, but it does matter how the data is being used.

On Friday 15th June, the ultimate teacher-workload reduction initiative will commence. Kicking off at Wigan’s DW Stadium, the Lead LIVE roadshow will look to significantly reduce teacher workload in schools across the country… and tickets are free-of-charge. Scroll down for the 5 Ws: why, who, what, when, and where...

This is my favourite question from friend, FELTAG collaborator and member of the Ministerial Education Technology Action Group (ETAG), Professor Diana Laurillard from UCL. It is always a useful starting point for any conversation or decision about the use of technology for teaching, learning or assessment.

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