Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love phenomenon), has written a manifesto for people who want to be creative, but are afraid. They may say that they don’t have time to write, or paint, or sculpt, but really they’re afraid. Titled Big Magic, Gilbert also talks about how if the muse comes knocking at your door with an idea and you ignore her, she will deliver the idea to someone else. It’s happened to her with an idea Gilbert had for a novel that her friend, Ann Patchett, ended up writing, titled State of Wonder (even though they never discussed it). New Age whoo-whoo you say? I don’t think so.
A week or so ago the Wall Street Journal ran an article that caused a stir about how technology in classrooms doesn’t always boost education results as much as we had hoped. According to a 2015 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), despite greater access to technology in today’s schools, students are not necessarily making significant gains in mathematics and reading. The report states,
“We have not yet become good enough at the kind of pedagogues that make the most of technology; that adding 21st century technologies to 20th century teaching practices will just dilute the effectiveness of teaching.”
Yes! We at TechnoTeaching agree. It’s how you integrate new tools in meaningful ways that matters!
I’m getting to Gilbert’s theory. I read this report in the International Wall Street Journal on a flight home from Europe. Tired and jet-lagged, I thought about writing a blog post about it, but let it slide. I did not heed my muse.
Sure enough the next day I opened my inbox to discover that tech queen, Vicki Davis, wrote a bang-up piece about the OECD report in her September 26th newsletter. Is it possible that my muse whispered in her ear? This happens a lot. Davis, as you may know, blogs as the Cool Cat Teacher. She is often listed as one of the top edtech bloggers, and deservedly so.
Lately we’ve been following Davis here at TechnoTeaching and are impressed by her smarts. We also like the way she gives each new subscriber a gift—“Ten Habits of Bloggers that Win.” In response to the OECD report Davis reminds us, “It is not about what you HAVE but what you DO with what you HAVE.” Right on!
So, there you are. If you’ve read Big Magic let us know. If you follow the Cool Cat Teacher let us know. And Linda Davis, if you’re listening out there at @coolcatteacher we’d love to feature you as a guest blogger. You can talk about anything you want. Even if your muse continues to beat us to the punch.
NEWS: our founder and creative director, Nicole Ponsford, is an expert panel member for the guardian live webchat on 'thinking of a career in teaching?'
Via The Guardian:
Being a teacher can be a life-changing experience. “Nine years ago I taught a boy who had been through an appalling ordeal in his home country Sierra Leone in west Africa,” says one teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous. “He was the victim of a heinous war crime and abuse. At school, his behaviour was challenging, but he had a heart of gold.
“A few weeks ago, as I was rushing to catch a train, I bumped into him. Suited and booted and with a very beautiful girlfriend, he told me about his life. He was an actor, a comedian and, I could see, a beautiful human being. He thanked me as it was my insistence that he took part in the school play which, he said, had changed his life.”
This story sums up why many people decide to teach – a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers union found that 75% of teachers join the profession because they want to make a difference.
While new Ofsted targets and changes to the curriculum have put added pressure on teachers, there are still many reasons to join the profession. From community schools to special schools and private schools, there is a variety of teaching environments to choose from. If they want a change of scenery, teachers can even pack their bags and work overseas.
So, ahead of World Teacher’s Day on 5 October, we will be discussing how to become a teacher. Whether you’re thinking of changing career by entering the educational sector or are looking for a teacher training scheme, join us on Wednesday 30 September from 1–3pm BST for a live chat with the experts. We’ll be discussing:
Comments are currently open and we welcome questions in advance.
Nicole Ponsford is founder of TechnoTeachers, a global edtech consultancy. Nicole specialises in supporting teachers both in schools, in print and online. She specialises in bespoke support for teachers, writing CVs and interview practice.
Here is our second TechnoTeachers for TechnoTeachers blog. This time we move away from the UK (Nic's home) to the USA (Julie's). The wonderful Google Certified Teacher (amongst many other awards!) Alice Keeler, was kind enough to give us some of her time and tips. Her resume is incredible as is her Twitter feed which is a great one to follow.
1. Why did you initially decide to become a teacher?
"I did not, I was offered a job teaching. Having a math degree makes you highly desirable :)"
2. How did you move from being a classroom teacher to being a consultant/writer?
"I actually had health complications with my last pregnancy (5 kids) and had to leave my position. I am teaching pre-service teachers at a University. I had started blogging years ago in response to so many people asking me tech questions and this was a more efficient way to answer. A lot of it was for myself, I was doing some crazy innovations with tech and teaching and blogging it gave me a reference to go back to when I needed to replicate what I did. Slowly the popularity of my blog has increased and I am now getting 10-15,000 hits a day on my blog. I do not just share tech tips, I innovate ideas for how to use tech in teaching."
3. How have you gained your following on social media do you think? Top tips?
"I share share share share. I am on social media a lot, I reply and join in conversations. I enjoy learning from others. The more I share, the more I get. "
4. Why do you think it is important to grow as a teacher/ share your ideas with others?
"Do you want your doctor to say "I'm good at this, so I stopped learning more about medicine." Really what profession is it acceptable to be stale? Culture changes. Tech changes how we do things in life, that means how we do things at school should also change."
5. Which are the top 3-5 pieces of work you'd like us to share in this blog and why?
"I wrote the book "50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom" with Dr. Libbi Miller.
I have over 60 blog posts about Google Classroom at: http://alicekeeler.com/googleclassroom
Here are a few examples for you to get started with...
We hope you are enjoying this series. If you have any comments, please post below. Next week, we interview Singapore based, New Zealander Craig Kemp.
We have decided to start a new blog series for the start of the school year. Nic and Jules have been busy working out just who inspires them - who the real TechnoTeachers are for the TechnoTeachers! We also wanted to hear from voices in the field and hear their stories.
Our first post features the incredible Alan Peat. He describes himself on Twitter as "(Fellow of both the RSA and Historical Association) International author / Educational Consultant -high impact training, books and apps". We see him an inspirational educator for the digital age. Here is his interview:
Why did you initially decide to become a teacher?
"I initially decided to become a teacher for selfish reasons - I enjoyed music and history and writing and I couldn’t think of a job which would allow me to explore all of my interests BUT then realised that Primary school teaching would! I used be less honest about this but as I grew older I realised that it was’t such a bad thing - my selfish reasons for entering the profession meant that I was always excited by the possibilities of the job (…though the paperwork sometimes got me down!) Enthusiasm is contagious - I was happy teacher."
How did you move from being a classroom teacher to being a consultant/writer?
"I wrote two poetry books which were accepted for publication and that was the start of my transition from teacher to consultant/writer. I also wrote articles for magazines like ‘TES Primary’ and ‘Teaching Thinking’ - these functioned as a free form of advertising for what I did. After that it has been a question of ‘word of mouth’ and hard slog. I’ve written at least one book a year for the last 16 years."
Top Tips for gaining a following on Social Media? (Alan currently has 17.7K Twitter followers - @alanpeat)
"Be polite; share ideas as well as self-promote and respond to requests as often as possible. It currently takes me about 8-10 hours a week to respond to everything on Twitter and Facebook - I do that all myself and think that it is important to personalise what we do.
Why do you think it is important to grow as a teacher/ share your ideas with others?
"As soon as you think you have all the answers you’re finished! That’s why it is important t constantly be curious about new developments. I think it is important to look beyond the professional pedagogues - many new ideas have arrived tangentially - visiting museums and gallery exhibitions etc. Several of my educational blogs began with a visit to an exhibition at an art gallery. I also write art history books and like the wider perspective that lends my educational work."
Here are Alan's top pieces of work - in his words. He says "My favourites are the team efforts…"
1. "The www.thecepress.com website - beautifully (and cleanly) designed by Simon Matthews. It showcases all our books and apps."
2. "Of my books, ‘Cinderella 50 Ways To Retell A Story’ is important to me because it was co-written with my wife and eldest stepson. We’re currently working on an Ebook version with some new additions! Details will be tweeted soon!"
3. "Of the apps iVisualiser was a labour of love - it turns an iPad into portable visualiser. Difficult to explain in words so we created movie to SHOW what it does - this can be seen at www.visualiser.com The app is now used in 86 countries - design by Simon Matthews and coding by Doug Stitcher."
4. "The things I’m most excited about are the projects I’m currently working on. I hope that will also be the case in 30 years. I’ll be in my eighties then and like my good friend and co-author Professor Brian Whitton (…who has just turned 80 plant hunting above 4300 metres in the mountains of China) I don’t intend to stop. I’ll be ‘on the road less’ in 2 or 3 years but I can’t imagine that the curiosity that has always driven me will ever disappear."
TECHNOTEACHER TOP TIP
"My final, and most important tip is to work with people who can do their parts of the job better than you can - ensure that people work WITH you rather than FOR you (more than a semantic distinction!) and pay them properly. If someone puts in half the effort they should be paid half the money."
Alan Peat's website can be found here.
Alan - Thank you from the TechnoTeachers for your time and efforts with this. We hope you enjoying hearing from TechnoTeachers in the Field - and if you have any that would either like to hear from or want us to contact, please let us know!
Next time: We interview TechnoTeacher, Alice Keeler - the Google Guru!
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This is where Jules and Nic will post articles, links to interesting sites and things that we think our TechnoTeachers will like.