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.
Around this time of year, my commitment to my professional resolutions begin to wane. Deadlines, demands and life in general clouds my path to the professional improvement I seek. While my desire and intent are strong, my actions (or behaviors) often fall short or don’t even get off the ground. I find this is most often the case when try to do it all by ourselves, which is the case for many educators. Some colleagues have described it as feeling like they are working in a “silo” - ISOLATED!
When training to be a teacher 10 years ago, I was told emphatically that I should not tell students that I’m gay because it would give them “more ammunition”. Comments like this grossly underestimate our young people who, in my experience, are more open-minded and accepting than their parents and many of my former colleagues. Comments like this force teachers and school leaders to let down some of our most vulnerable students by not being a visible role model they can identify with. I believe teachers should lead by example and that’s why, as part of LGBT History Month in February 2017, I finally came out to over 1,000 students in assembly.
We are all different; whatever you are thinking will not be the same as others. In an academic environment where teachers work as a team, not as individuals, there needs to be consistent mindfulness and consideration to others. We will all have those bad days. Your day or mood does not belong to anybody else. We are here to serve young people. Professionalism is imperative in setting high and positive standards. In this article, I will share three examples of how this can be developed.
You don’t deserve a medal for implementing new technology in school, but it can sure feel like you do at times. Buying into contracts with third-party technology suppliers is daunting; I’ve had to do it in my past, and there’s lots of pressure to make the right decision. As the edtech market grows more saturated, more and more firms will claim to offer the world. But with many of these companies not having been around for long, how can you be sure the technology you chose is right for your school?
I’ve always seen teaching as fun, inspirational and aspirational. Don’t get me wrong, there have been doubts and difficulties at times in my career, but even on the tough days I can honestly say that I’ve never had a dull moment. The level of creativity needed in teaching and leading a school community is driven by an insatiable passion for the people you serve. You want the best for them, and this absolute belief has stayed with me throughout my career.
I have been interested in action research for a number of years. Having working in social services for the first part of my career, we were trained to within an inch of our lives. Much of the training was practical, and focused on the concept of practice development. This evidence-informed practice enabled us to look at the skills and strategies we needed to meet the needs of our service users. Entering teaching in the nineties and noughties I found that this wasn’t really the case. Training was very prescriptive and centralised from government (National Strategies/APP) or ad hoc, and wasn’t concerned with meeting the needs of everyone in every classroom.