Supporting Teachers with an Apple Professional Learning Specialist

As a lecturer in Initial Teacher Education,  I see the changes to the role of an educator first-hand. On one side, I work with enthusiastic students at university looking to start their career as an innovative and forward-thinking educator, and on the other hand, I see the pressure and reality of the classroom that has a huge impact on the current workforce.

This gives me an insight into the issues that face educators and also an opportunity to confront these at the point of training the next generation.

One of the key issues for many educators, is workload, though when you ask them about the workload and what it looks like they usually respond by talking about assessment and feedback. This isn’t essentially workload as this is the job – we do this as educators in order to support progression in our learners. The issue therefore appears to be about the approaches to doing these things. In understanding the productivity that can be achieved by doing things a little differently.

As an Apple Professional Learning Specialist, I work closely with schools to look at how technology can transform not only the learning in the classroom, but also to highlight the benefits to the teacher and their work. In providing them with ideas for how learning can be streamlined, to support with new ways to share and assess learning, to move away from evidencing everything from a book and to show the impact of the cloud on their productivity.

It’s not about retraining teachers, they are great at what they do, but “you don’t know what you don’t know”.

That’s where the support from APLS can be essential in making that transition and bringing in new ideas to the classroom. We model it in university to show the students that it works and to give them the skills to incorporate it into their everyday practice. In schools, it is more of a coaching role to integrate it into the current approach they have, small steps at a time to provide them with ownership and confidence in the approach.

The coaching allows us to work alongside the teacher, to show them the techniques with their own class and to demonstrate that APLS is a successful approach. This is really important as time out of class is a premium; being able to work in the classroom helps to embed the approach, and it also shows their students that they are willing to learn and develop too. This point is essential in helping them trust their own teachers, to see that they too have worries and concerns, and yet carry on and persevere.

Change in approach to learning and teaching is essential as we look to meet the needs of the changing workforce. Technology supports educators and learners alike to be able to take more ownership of what they are doing, to be creative and solve problems. It’s not a simple transition from the more traditional approach but, with support and coaching it is definitely achievable.

Article by Mathew Pullen Apple Professional Learning Specialist, Senior Lecturer ITE at University of South Wales

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