An Apple a day….

I can add the last seven days to the list of ‘good things that happened in 2017’, for this was a week in which I achieved two proud moments in my University life.

Firstly, I became an Apple Teacher.

What is an Apple Teacher? Well, to become a recognised Apple Teacher you must read through guides and complete a quiz to earn eight different badges. Each badge relates to a different app or skill, and you can complete the badges for Mac, iPad or both.

Once you’ve earned all eight badges you’ll become an Apple Teacher, and receive an email with your official Apple Teacher logo, which looks a bit like this:

20170204_211955000_ios

I found working through the materials to be a great CPD tool, and I would encourage educators of all knowledge and experience to consider doing as I did.

If you’re still not sure, here are a few of my thoughts about the whole process:

The guides are written with a consistent structure flowing through each one, meaning you can pick up a guide on any subject, from Guitar Band to Numbers, and easily find the section you need. Finding information within each guide is not difficult, as each has a contents page with hyperlinks to take you directly to the section you need. This could be a fantastic tool for more-able learners in KS2 to use and teach themselves new skills.

The problem I often have with guides is that reading the theory alone can can make it difficult to picture how you would apply it to a real life scenario. The Apple Teacher guides address this by actually taking you through the process of creating something. For example, the Numbers Guide talks through the creation of the ‘Butterfly Investigation Lab Report’, including a simple table, checklist and pie chart. Seeing this come together makes it much easier for me to understand how I could use this in other projects in future.

The addition of interactive functions within the guides adds real value to what you are reading. For example, within the Garage Band Guide you can listen to sound clips of what you’re supposed to be creating, to check that you’re on the right lines. Many of the pages have windows you can swipe through to see the progression of the stages you are following. All of these functions add a great deal of support on just one single page.

The process of taking the test online is also very simple and easy to access, with a smooth transition between the different sections.

 

Having completed the Apple Teacher badges, I then looked in to further learning available on the Apple Teacher site.

Which brings me to my second achievement. I sat down yesterday determined to complete the Apple Teacher Playground Swift badges too. The Swift badges are all related to coding, a subject that is surely daunting to many teachers who have never taught this before.

However, after reading through the guides and drawing on some hazy memories of previously-forgotten A-Level Computing knowledge, I successfully completed the Apply Teacher Playground Swift badges.

appleteacherswiftplaygrounds_white

Yes, it’s true I had a previous understanding of coding, and a good familiarity of Apple systems. But consider this – I last studied coding 11 years ago, and I’ve never used apps like Garage Band in my life. I was basically a beginner again. If I can do it, why can’t you?

Interested in becoming an Apple Teacher yourself? What are you waiting for? Follow this link, read the resources, take the tests and get qualified!

appleteacher.apple.com

Right, pencils down. That’s the end of our time. Until next time – hwyl fawr!

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Placement Looms: Real pupils in real schools

The day after my very first post, an email arrived from the University’s School Experience Officer. The subject left no air of mystery whatsoever:

‘PROVISIONAL PLACEMENTS: BA PRIMARY YEAR 1’

It was an email I hadn’t expected, but had been eagerly (and anxiously) awaiting for some time. What school would I be going to? Would it be a good school? How far will I have to travel?

Each student on the BA Primary course has to undertake a placement in a learning environment in each of the three years. My placement this year is scheduled between March and May. With it being the very first one, I don’t think anyone truly knows what to expect. Until now I’ve been able to put the idea of actually teaching children – REAL children – into a part of my mind where I can acknowledge it’s going to happen eventually, but satisfy myself with the thought that it’s still some way off.

Until now.

Now it’s very real. Now I have a school. Now I have something I can’t file away. I have something to put in my diary, a website I can look up, an ESTYN inspection report to read, and a Twitter profile to start following.

It doesn’t matter how relaxed you are about the idea of teaching (I’m genuinely really looking forward to qualifying) because when you’re faced with the thought of going into a school and teaching your very first lessons, I would challenge anybody who says they’re not a bit nervous.

But is nervousness a bad thing?

Sure, it might shave some hours off your average sleeping time. But doesn’t nervousness keep you sharp, focused and ‘on-task’? Doesn’t it make sure you don’t rest on your laurels? We’re nervous, apprehensive and maybe a little worried for one simple reason:

We care.

We care about doing it right. We care about doing a great job, and showing how good we can be.

Whilst the email from the School Experience Officer left no air of mystery, my first teaching experience is a huge step into the unknown.

Right, pencils down. That’s the end of our time. Until next time – hwyl fawr!

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The Difficult First Post

I’ve written a personal blog for over three years now, so I should know exactly how to get started with a new one, right? Wrong.

Somehow, the responsibility of starting a professional blog seems like a very serious undertaking. If I start too strongly, I might mislead you into thinking this blog will be something it can’t live up to. If I don’t start strongly enough…well….you won’t still be reading now.

Could do better. Stronger start needed.

In September 2016, I turned my back on a 12 year career in Retail Management to embark on a new venture into the world of teaching. Teaching is something I’ve always dreamed of doing, but entering Higher Education as a mature student is still no less daunting than my 18 year old self would have found it.

Much better. Keep it up.

The University of South Wales in Newport will be my home until the summer of 2019 (doesn’t that seem a long way away?) but in the meantime this blog will chart my thoughts and ramblings as I negotiate the choppy waters of being a student teacher. My hope is that my experiences will resonate with other students also trying to keep their metaphorical vessels from sinking.

As I survive lectures, assignments, observations and placements I will be sharing everything I find useful, whether it be apps that could add value in the classroom or lesson plans and ideas that I particularly like. But maybe most importantly, I’ll tell you what it’s like to be a mature student teacher in Wales in 2017.

Right, pencils down. That’s the end of our time. Until next time – hwyl fawr!

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