In my previous post we looked at making app choices for your school (It's about the teacher, not the app). We now have to think about ensuring that staff throughout the school are using your iPads, but more importantly have the knowledge, ideas and understanding to use them to support learning effectively. This includes classroom teachers, TAs and SLT.
Staff engagement relies first on having a clear vision and rationale for how iPads will be used in the school. Will they be peripheral and only used occasionally for specific types of tasks, or the central foundation of teaching and learning? The latter is a far better way of maximising the impact. For schools which have one-to-one iPad programmes in particular, it is a real missed opportunity not to put them at the centre.
Whatever the strategic vision is, it needs to be clearly communicated by leadership, and used to frame CPD throughout the year. Leaders ideally should role model and demonstrate their willingness to use iPad, learn new skills and lead from the front. When the vision, leadership and expectations are clear, we can then think in more detail about how to develop a staff group that is comfortable and confident with teaching using iPad.
Using an iPad is very different to teaching with an iPad. We absolutely must ensure that staff are comfortable with finding their way around the device, how to access features, have a working knowledge of the core set of apps, and understand the workflow practicalities, so that they can collect in work created by the learners, and give appropriate support and feedback.
Fortunately, there are some great (and free!) resources available to help us develop this base level of knowledge in using the iPad in the classroom. The first port of call will probably be the Apple Teacher Learning Centre (appleteacher.apple.com or scan the QR code and sign up with your Apple ID). This provides some fantastic self-paced resources starting with using the iPad, but also covers many of the apps that are likely to be in your core set of apps that make up your workflow.
From here you will find tips and hints on using the apps within the context of a classroom environment, and each of these resources is followed by a short online quiz, to encourage your staff to gain ‘Apple Teacher’ status when they’ve completed all six badges. This is a great thing to celebrate in school, and many schools display the certificates outside classrooms to showcase the success of individuals and encourage all staff to achieve the badges. Some schools use achieving Apple Teacher as a performance management target to formalise expectations and motivation. I have even seen some school trusts produce pin badges that are awarded to staff.
It might be good idea to scaffold staff CPD around these resources over a term or two. Perhaps a group session, followed by a week or two of staff using the app that has been focused on, before returning to share classroom and lesson ideas.
Apple Teacher is becoming a valued accreditation, and I’ve recently seen job specifications for some schools with Apple Teacher appearing in the desirable requirements for potential new staff. There is now a specific Twitter account and hashtag to encourage the community and to keep the conversation of ideas going, @AppleEDU and #AppleTeacher.
Now we can turn our attention to teaching with iPads. This goes far beyond knowing the apps, and starts to bring aspects of how children learn into the discussion. The Apple Teacher Learning Centre is rapidly becoming an excellent resource, and there are many more materials being added regularly, including classroom ideas and resources around new technologies such as AR in the classroom with tools such as Reality Composer. There are also the substantial Everyone Can Create resources, detailed books outlining classroom projects, including specific ideas for Early Years too.
Beyond the online resources, it’s advisable to engage early with an Apple Professional Learning Specialist (APLS), an individual, teacher and often school leader, who will support your journey, leadership planning, staff training, and help throughout your journey with iPads in your school. They might deliver whole school CPD, or similarly they might sit and plan lessons with a member of staff who needs a bit more support, or even deliver the lessons to model best practice. Their skill and knowledge will be an asset to your school, whatever stage of iPad deployment you are at.
Support and celebrate the staff in their development, make use of the Apple Teacher resources and structure, leverage the knowledge and experience of an APLS and the impact of using iPads in your school will increase.
Later in this series we will delve back into this topic, as we look at how we use iPads to support assessment throughout the school, and how we sustain and deepen learning with iPads to ensure there is real impact on teaching and learning. These are long conversations, but hopefully we can at least start those discussions here. Let’s keep talking.
Stay tuned for my next post on iPad assessment and feedback - where Sparkjar is leading the field
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