Apple Distinguished Educators Global Institute reflection and call to action.

This year I applied to attend the Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute, held in San Diego. My application was successful and I joined 9 other UK Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) on a trip to America which would change my life. Not only would this be a week to meet ADEs from 31 countries, it would be a chance to become a learner again, change perspectives, develop new skills and collaborate on a projects for the next school year.

It was a week which was packed full of field trips, prestigious keynote speakers, AppleLabs and workshops. Each day began at 8.00am and we worked through until 8.00pm most nights for the 5 formal days of Institute.

It was great to meet a whole bunch of new ADEs, but also catch up with the ADEs I met last year in Cork. Having the opportunity to work with Rebecca Stockley again and revisit her improv strategies was great, and this blog post is structured around her ‘story spine’.

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Once upon a time…
I was a teacher in a classroom who was given the responsibility for integrating iPads in to the school curriculum. Each classroom were assigned 2 iPads, first generation models. There were nobody around me doing the same work. This was my first sign post from Apple.

Every day…
I tried to help teachers integrate their iPads in to lessons but it was hard work. First of all, only 2 per class was a challenge, secondly my knowledge of apps was limited and thirdly the interest to develop iPad use in classrooms was low.

But one day…
I had a phone call. I was invited to BETT London to present every day alongside a reseller who had followed my work on my blog and through twitter. That week I got to talk to people who were at the same point as me in their journey, and others who were further along that journey from other countries. Following this work, the reseller provided a full day training for staff at my school from an Apple Distinguished Educator, Neil Emery. This was my second sign post from Apple.

My vision developed and I continued to embed iPad in my classroom and lead others in developing their use of this new technology. As the profile of iPads grew, so did the school owned bank of devices.

Because of that…
Neil helped me to develop my vision and introduced me to the Apple Distinguished Educator program. He offered support, along with the friends I made through BETT, and I began to curate content for my application to join the Class of 2013.

Because of that…
I was accepted in to the program and joined the Class of 2013 along with 400 other applicants. Together we made the global total of ADEs to just over 2000. I headed out to the EMEIA ADE Institute held in Cork, Ireland for 1 week to meet my class and begin my relationship with Apple. This week up-skilled me to a power user of Apple software such as Keynote and iMovie in iOS and OS X. I made great connections with other teachers using Apple technology and continued to develop my vision.

This was my third sign post from Apple. I started a new school and took all of this with me to my new position as Interactive Technologies co-ordinator. The first year was hard work, but I was so lucky to be a part of a new team in a school which has seen the most improvement over just 2 terms. We pulled together and moved the school from Special Measure to Good in this time, and with my leadership I improved and expanded the use of iPads in the school, as well as other technologies.

Because of that…
I was able to apply to the Global Institute for Apple Distinguished Educators and my application was approved. I travelled to San Diego to meet 371 ADEs from 31 countries, as well as over 100 Apple staff from around the world. All together there were 500 of us, in one place, making a lot of noise about the great things we do with Apple technologies.

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We spent the week together working on projects and field trips all under the theme of ‘Life of Earth’. We became learners again. We worked with oceanographers, researchers, scientists, park rangers, Native Americans and volunteers in several locations ranging from coastal, river and mountain habitats. We explored the use of iOS technologies in these areas and reflected on global issues.

Finally…
We secured our Personal Learning Network as the early years group and began collaborating on a project to take our learning back to our schools and get our children talking about Life on Earth and global issues. I have always been an advocate for discussing global issues with little children and now I have the skills and vision to use iTunes U to conned my class with other early learners around the world.

Ever since that day…
I have been working with an inspirational group of ADEs who all work in early years and kindergarten (Kristi Meeuwse, Mauri DuFour, Italo Ravenna, Catherine Mengan and Britanni Wilton). Our aim is to bring iTunes U in to Kindergarten and Early Years. We want to show that iTunes U can become iTunes K and be used with our young learners as a tool for curating their content and discussing the project with children from other countries, We will utilise FaceTime and iBooksAuthor in this project too, our classes will lead enquiry about each others locality and discuss their learning along the way. We left Institute with a multi-touch book to share read with our classes on iPads about Rancho Cuyamaca and the issues in this locality. Together our classes will author a multi-touch book on iBooksAuthor and publish this to the iBookStore to share with parents and their communities.

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The moral of this story is…
dream big. When I became a teacher I had a vision to connect my class but I didn’t know how. I have always been an advocate for thinking differently about teaching styles and have been a teacher who takes risks and tries something new. I now have a wonderful relationship with a global community of educators who think like this and practise it too. We have so much to learn from each other and this community feels like home to me. With my fellow ADEs I realise the kind of teacher that I want to be, and they help me to become that teacher. Thank you for a wonderful week ADEs, thank you for the opportunity Apple.

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