NOT: Teachers are Binary

Binary Logic, believe me, I find this hard to get my head around, especially when it comes to NOT.  I had fun this week playing the opposites game with students trying to help them (and me) get their heads around it.

Basically, anything with NOT in front is a false statement (see title)

I found myself pondering, after speaking to colleagues and friends in the teaching profession, the concept that people believe that teachers are in fact, binary.

We are not. 

So binary represents 1 = True and 0 = False. A concept with no variables in between. Now that I am a teacher of computer science. I understand this and can deconstruct this concept, and as I with everything I do, I reflect on how it is in real life.

Tangible  

A teacher, in my view, is a malleable character, you begin your career with the concept that you will be everything, and I do not mean by choice this is part of the role as an educator.  We are the tutor, the teacher, the expert, the friendly, the stern and the fun—all in the aim to inspire students in our care of any age. 

As we progress in the profession, it is expected, if you want to progress, to choose, Pastoral Or Academic? Once this choice has been made, there is very little movement for many into the other areas of the school.  But surely a well rounded leader is able to be malleable to all features of school life?

Pastoral OR Academic 

Becomes…

NOT: Pastoral = Academic

Or 

NOT: Academic = Pastoral 

This is similar to those who are into education technology, I find conversations with my EdTech peers that more often than not they become “IT Support”.

“Ask X they can help with the IT, thats what they do. We can sort the Ed bit after” 

Yet the passion which drives people interested in educational technology is the chance for it to enable, support and enhance a students wellbeing, progress, access … I could go on. 

Coming from a background in design and technology, my passion for education technology is most definitely the latter, having struggled at school, I know my experience would have been far greater, easier and more enjoyable, had I had some of the tools which are in place now.  

I find the ability to blend cognitive development, pedagogy and learning is incredible. 

So I thought I would shout out to some of the incredible educators who are most definitely not binary, they are

supportive, collaborative and brilliant, bluring the boundaries of what is expected. 

Not just teachers and most definitely not IT (NB: nothing wrong with IT, but teachers come into a different bracket, with many variables, even those who teach IT can do more than “just” IT).

So if you are looking for #ResearchED, check out: @87History @OLewis_coaching @DigiLin_

If you are looking for scaffolding and resources for primary, check out: @MrDigiTechSabe @JacobWoolcock

Need empowering secondary resources, you need to see: @XpatEducator @CyresDt

Creativity don’t miss: @MrsHilltoutArt @BenHaydenEDU @clive_gibson

Outstanding professional development: @ICTEvangelist @TechMrHenderson @EvoHannan

Inspiring blended learning and classroom ideas: @mrlewis_edu @MrAndiPrice @mcoutts81 @MrGeorgeStokes

The whole school package @ICTEvangelist @PeterHyman21 @DepHead_Jones

(I could hand out Twitter handles all day long of the people who inspire me. If you are looking for direction or help with getting some support, reach out to me and I will do my best to help!)

I hope you enjoy checking out these educators, I get so inspired by them, I thank them wholeheartedly for their passion and drive as educators. 

They are not binary

They are educators 

I am a Woman in Education #Wii_Edu

My name is Philippa Wraithmell; I am 34 years old. I live in the UAE and have a husband and two children, 10 and 6 years old. Why am I beginning this blog as though I am 5 years old writing my biography in a literacy class? 

Because education is one of the few professional sectors where this can truly define who you are. It can limit opportunities and allows people to make judgment upon you without knowing the whole story. 

To profile me as an educator, you would know this: 

Teacher with 12 + years experience as a middle and senior leader, Apple Distinguished Educator, BETT MEA Board Member, Innovation in Education Award winner. Qualified Safeguarding level 3.

This is my story.

This summer, I was reached out to by an incredible educator, Linda Parsons, who wanted my support to create a culture where we could change the mindset and support other women, no matter their leadership goals or background.

We are Women who Innovate, Integrate and Educate.

We are Wii_Edu, and this is my story. 

Twelve years ago, I left my career in the buying industry to follow a passion for education and become a teacher.  I had recently found out that due to several operations over the years that it was unlikely I would be able to have children, and I wanted to be in a position that if I were ever lucky enough to have them, I would be able to have time to spend and share with them.  I had made the right decision. The moment I stood in front of a class, I knew I was in the right place.  

I began my PGCE in Design and Technology in Nottingham, where I then successfully gained my NQT position at a school at an inner-city school.

Curious, questioning, driven, passionate and excited, I was raring to go. 

However, in term three of my PGCE, I was pregnant with my first child. I was so fortunate that my headteacher understood my position, and I had been able to build strong relationships with staff having done my PGCE there. They were happy for me to begin still and join as soon as I could.  However, the news was less well taken by my university, who told me that I had ruined my career. I would never be taken seriously. 

After a complicated and almost fatal pregnancy, I had three months off before beginning my teaching career properly.  In the background, my husband had just started a new job as well. He has always been a co-parent with me, and we look after each other, our children and our family as a team, my job at that time put food on the table and clothes on our backs. It was tough, leaving my new baby, one which I never thought I would have the opportunity to have, but I had to go back to work as the primary earner that was and is my role. 

My first months back were hard. I had a female colleague who refused to leave the room I had been given to express my milk over my lunch breaks to provide me with privacy; due to her long-standing role, the school sided with her, and I found myself expressing in the cleaners cupboard so that I could still feed my newborn baby.  In those first few months, I found myself faced with emotions which were high and a lack of support. I was a young teacher, back at work, night feeding as her baby refused a bottle and wouldn’t drink the gallons of milk expressed*1. 

If anything, this position drove me to make a stand.  Although scared, I made a formal complaint.  The woman retired at the end of the year.  No genuine support was given to me, but this made me want to do more to make sure no one was ever in my position.  

By the end of that academic year, I was promoted to second in department, I cannot say I remember a lot of that year, but I know that I got up every day, and I knew I could do more, do better and teach those children who needed me to show up.  It is schools like this one that show us how privileged we are to come from loving homes and backgrounds.  They needed me more than I needed sleep.   

Within two years, I was running a department in a failing school which we had taken over as part of an academy. I took this on with excitement and vision. Over the years, which I was, there was able to:

  • Build a department with 5+ confident staff 
  • Mentor staff deemed to be “failing” (awful word) to deliver outstanding results
  • AQA Assessor for GCSE DT 
  • Write relevant, innovative schemes of work
  • Recreate the assessment for the subject to allow for progress
  • Introduced a policy that ALL students, regardless of background, be given food technology supplies to teach them how to cook healthy meals. *2 
  • Delivered parents cooking sessions for low budget meals
  • Created an Annual careers day for design and technology industries 3*
  • Highest opted for the subject in the school
  • Second highest grades for GCSE in the school (maths being No.1)

It is when you write it down that you can realise what you have achieved. My goal was to show them how important design and technology is as a subject, especially to that community, to share tangible links between school and their futures. 

I applied for other leadership roles within the school. Others were promoted. My line manager of 2014 asked me what my future goals were when I told her; she laughed at me. She told me it wasn’t a thing to improve schools and departments. Had I thought about just maybe leading a more significant department?

So I decided to try and have another baby, as clearly, my life goals were laughable.  I had six months this time.  I was raring to get back; aside from everything, I was saddened to hear that standards had been allowed to drop. 

And then in January of 2015, as I came in from break duty, also to note having broken up a fight, a male member of the SLT walked past sniggering when questioned, I asked what it was. 

“Have they not told you yet? They are cutting your subject from GCSE…” 

And he walked away. 

Furious, I spoke to my line manager, an incredible woman, who had no idea, checked and found it true.  

No one had told me because “they didn’t have time”—the lack of respect at that moment in time. 

  • Because I led DT?
  • Because I am a woman?
  • Because I am young?

Or actually, because they know me and they knew I would give 101 reasons why that was a wrong decision for the school and the pupils of that school specifically.  They took the easy way and hoped I wouldn’t notice or mind. 

I did mind; I quit. I left that August. 

I moved to another school in September, Head of DT again. I love my subject.

Within weeks, I found myself having similar conversations with the SLT.  

  • The staff are failing
  • The department is rubbish
  • No one will visit on open evening

I found it astonishing, I rallied around the students and staff, showcased work, had GCSE pupils cooking live, and the head of school walked in and said, 

“ 3D printer… seen that before. I don’t know why you’re bothering, and We don’t even tell parents to come to the DT on the open evening. They don’t care about it.” 

Wow… 

I had a meeting with him the next day about the following:

  • Why did he have such low expectations of his staff and a department?
  • Did he not think that his low expectations perhaps caused the “poor teaching” as SLT saw it?
  • How did he expect me to raise his STEAM school attainment if he didn’t care for himself? 

It was at that point that I decided I wanted to be a headteacher.  When I left, I was made to have a meeting with him and one of the governors to check I wasn’t going due to the open evening incident. I said yes, that is part of it, but overall I cannot work for a person who has such low expectations.

Rule #1 of teaching: Have high expectations of students and young people. 

To achieve this, indeed, you should also be setting high standards for yourself and your staff?

At this point, it felt like my only option was to leave teaching. But I love teaching.

So we moved to the UAE.  A land of promise and innovation.

I have been so fortunate to work in two excellent schools here, my first which I will talk about I found, driven by the need that being here, I had to work in the best school to ensure my children had the best education possible.  When I started, I was asked to be head of computing, and I decided I had to be a yes person. So I said yes!  

Over the next few months and years, I built my skills;

  • Delivering school-wide training 
  • Learning the primary curriculum
  • Data analysis and tracking curriculums
  • Developing my digital skills 
  • Training departments 1:1 
  • Rolled out annually 1:1 devices 
  • Developed policies, integrating pastoral care
  • Worked with Safeguarding & SEN on the provision
  • Creating learning experiences
  • Building my leadership skills 
  • Working with Governors, SLT and Marketing on whole school projects
  • Writing a book on behalf of the school
  • Leading two teacher conferences
  • Delivering four vertical learning experiences for the whole school
  • Writing blogs
  • Marketing the school and introducing twitter to staff for CPD as well as building the schools image.
  • Created curriculum for computer science
  • Gained the school Apple Distinguished Schools Status renewal
  • Awarded Apple Distinguished Educator and Apple Professional Learning specialist

Interestingly, after all of this, I found myself in my principal’s office, wanting to know why he thought I should speak at a conference? 

Imposter syndrome

He laughed at me and said, you still see yourself as a teacher. Look at all you have accomplished. He was empowering.

The following year at the Apple Distinguished Educators conference, I decided that no one knew me; if I failed, it wouldn’t matter. Everything I have done to this point had failure within it.  I am now far more resilient than I have ever been.  I signed up for everything, I felt fear, and I did it anyway. 

Getting over imposter syndrome was hard; it is made harder by then others putting you down.  Making you feel like you shouldn’t be trying to better yourself.  People expect of you what they expect of themselves. Don’t drop your standards because others are not high enough. 

As time went on, I applied for further leadership, wanting to broaden my horizons. I have skills in all academic and pastoral areas, and I wanted to keep progressing. 

However, I get told a lot the following:

  • You are so young
  • Don’t try and do it all at once
  • Your children are so young be a mum spend time with them

The latter, I agree, but I do. I spend far more time with my children than many do. I always will because I like my children. But it is important to me is that they see their mum, who works hard to achieve her goals. 

I read 10% braver #WomenEd – A great and empowering book if you haven’t read it. 

It made me decide to want to reach the next level. A new challenge would give me official leadership because although I know I worked with the whole school, there is importance to recognise leadership in people, even sometimes if it is just the title.  

Since joining my new school, I have been able to strengthen my leadership skills.  Being part of vertical groups across the school, the array of personalities and leadership qualities is vast in such a large school. 

The resilience I have built over the years is essential, although I am still a person, and we all still have feelings.  I worked a lot on my emotions with the female principal at the previous school, and I now don’t cry when in difficult situations that I thank her for. 

In the last six months, I have lead a vision across a school:

  • Created a strategy, vision and goal for the whole school
  • Developed a digital safeguarding system (supported by the safeguarding lead)
  • Rolled out 1:1 iPad devices to YR 2-6 
  • Written Responsible usage policies for parents, students and staff
  • Put measures in place to safeguard staff using digital technology
  • Brought in systems to support digital literacy and wellbeing 
  • Created a digital literacy curriculum for prep school
  • Gained National Online Safety and GoBubble school status 
  • SMT roles, so now Digital Learning is recognised within Pre-prep, Prep and Senior areas of the school. 
  • Developing the Student Digital Leaders to be able to drive the student’s vision

I am a Teacher, a mother, a wife.  

I am experienced.

I am resilient 

I have passion

I have a vision

I am a leader. 

I am a Woman in Education.  Please do not label me. Please do not put me in a box. 

I am a Woman who Innovates, Integrates, and Educates gives a voice to all.  

Does my age matter? Does my gender matter? Does my choice have a family matter?

So what have I learnt, and what advice would I share? 

  • No one has the right to belittle you or your goals.  This is insecurity within themselves. 
  • If you are passionate and driven, embrace it, but always follow through.  You can be dynamic and driven in an interview, but if you do not follow it up, it is worthless. I have been criticised so often for being too passionate or excited, but I know even if it doesn’t seem realistic to some, it doesn’t mean you cannot achieve it. 
  • It was once noted that “even though Philippa is leaving, she is still driven and passionate about the school and her job”.  Never lower your expectations, raise people to your standards. 
  • If where you are and what you do does not make you happy, you have the power to change it. 

Wii_Edu supports Women in Education. Our vision is: To Collectively provide a forum that empowers women to pursue equitable leadership roles in their chosen specialisms for the benefit of their school and the people within it. 

*1- to add context, I had to keep expressing otherwise I couldn’t feed at the weekends, and I now know more about bottles, teats and feeding than anyone should due to the amount we had to try. Some babies will not bottle feed!

*2 – Before this, even those on free school meals had to bring in their food to cook, this caused issues for those who couldn’t afford it. To ensure that every child could take part and complete the curriculum, I developed a policy that saw every child have ingredients provided

*3 – We invited female STEAM leads from universities to deliver Q&A sessions and reached out to large and small local companies to inspire students to see opportunities for their future. Once even having someone who looked at the PH of soil.  

The Hakuna Matata Effect

Yes, inspired by the brilliant re-make of The Lion King, but I couldnt help thinking whist I was watching it that more of us should take on board the “Hakuna Matata” this academic year.

We try to build resilience, we tell students to embrace faliure, but how many of us really show our students that it is ok?

Having now been in m new role for 7 weeks I have been trying to embed this culture across the school in relation to educational technology.

So Hakuna Matata,

“it means no worries”

The Lion King

This really should be the way we all look at embracing the introduction of EdTech in the classroom. The resilience which we are supporting our students to develop should also be developed more by us. Things do not always go right first time, but as I am sure we are all aware, failure is part of the road to success!

We have re-distributed our iPad devices across the junior school, to trial how a 1:3 device approach would work

(We had previously had devices in trolley’s across the school which would be booked out. Frustrations occur when staff began a project only to find they could not re-book them at the right times.)

With negotiation and willingness to try things in a new way, we now have 40 devices per year group.

To support this, staff have been provided resources which can help them to embed positive and meaningful device use in the classroom, focusing on their learning objectives and not on a range of apps. Thus allowing learning to take place as a whole group as we are not using devices as a “Golden Time”. For example, an empty session, where there is little to no impact as the focus is not clear.

Above is the current year 3 project template. We have seen some brilliant work this week from year 3 including some brilliant success stories alread, one year 3 teacher sent me this along with a piece of work which said…

“look what one of my lower ability children in did English earlier where they were identifying the persuasive devices used in speech. It was awesome! The child was one of the first to finish & I was completely blown away! 😁”

Year 3 Teacher

When students are engaged in meaningful use of technology they can really get excited and, with the example above, feel empowered successful learners! It is small steps, but thats a good approach, as the saying goes, Rome wasnt build in a day.

But… The Hakuna Matata approach with little gems of success like this will spread across our school. This teacher dared to do it and look at the success in one day, one week, just imagine the impact of a term or a year.

The same teacher also said the students commented on how their “Screen Time” must be much higher this week because of the iPad devices being in class, to which they considered how much more meaningful their use had been. They then were able to reflect upon all the fantastic things they had learnt how to do!

#DigitalCitizenship #TechControl #DigitalAwareness

Other year groups are taking a different approach. Year 4 as an example are looking at a guided reading project and are using a booklet which I found from another ADE on Twitter @BenHadenEDU (who if you don’t follow, you really should!)

Having these scaffolded resources are really helping to get staff on board and enabelling them to take more risks with other elements of the iPad device like the Camera and fun apps like Clips.

Next week we launch a two-week campaign to “count the ways…” with our focus being on the Camera tools. I look forward to sharing with you all the ways our students and staff have been using their Camera tools.

For now, our focus will be to continue to build our communities strength with the Hakuna Matata Effect!

Why don’t you give it a go to?

Creating a Safer, Healthier and Kinder Social Experience

E-safety champion Henry Platten is on a mission to make the internet a safer, healthier and kinder place for children.

A GoBubble Blog, By Henry Platten

Understanding digital interactions and learning how to lead a healthy digital life is of growing importance for young people today. And like any life skill, learning how to thrive in a digital world is something which needs to be demonstrated, discussed and practiced.

Of course, internet access, and specifically use of mainstream social media, is a topic very close to many parents’ hearts. Our kids want to chat online with their friends, communicate and create content, just as they see parents, elder siblings and potentially friends doing. So integral in our society is this ‘new’ form of communication.

Through my role as an e-safety champion I am all too familiar with the pull of social media felt by our children. And, of course, the news is quick to report the downsides of social media use in children. On the flip side, there are many positives to be gained from understanding how to communicate, create and collaborate digitally.  

In 2012 I launched eCadets; a successful pupil-led online safety education programme. With a view to creating a safe online space for children, families and teachers to enjoy creating digital content and interacting with friends, I subsequently founded the child-safe social media experience, GoBubble. My mission was to establish a platform which offers a welcome balance; where children can benefit from the advantages of social media and parents/teachers don’t have to worry.  

I am proud to say that GoBubble is making a real difference in the lives of kids, teachers and families every day. We have been able to offer an online space that is safer, accessible and fun to use. And pivotally, we have designed GoBubble to be utilised by schools across the globe, as a ‘Freemium’ platform; which means it’s free to register and use.

Through our outreach programme we can see the evolution of tomorrow’s digital citizens and help them to secure important skills. Our users value kindness, empathy and community. They can express themselves, communicate with their peers and explore and experiment with digital awareness; valuable attributes which they will take with them into their online lives as teenagers and adults.

Students using GoBubble

In addition to decreasing cyber-bullying, feedback from many of the educators who have implemented GoBubble, is an overall impact of positivity and wellbeing within their classrooms; enabling the development of global digital communities, inspiring creativity, supporting writing skills and many other aspects of the curriculum.

Ian Rockey is the headteacher in the UK. He has found that GoBubble has supported students in understanding more about the world around them, and expanded communication horizons. Here’s what he has to say:

“At Westwood with Iford Primary School we have been using GoBubble to successfully collaborate with peers and professionals around the globe.

“As a village primary school, we are always keen to enhance the children’s internationalism and appreciation of the world around them and GoBubble provides the perfect safe, secure platform with which to communicate, share ideas and celebrate experiences.

“Through GoBubble we can teach children to think before they post in order to become good digital citizens and to keep themselves safe online. This is crucial in an age when social media has become such a powerful medium. Our children have found this both an engaging and exciting way to learn. It has clearly impacted on their understanding of how important it is to communicate online in a respectful and safe way, and we are looking forward to another year of collaboration and communication online through GoBubble.”

Tilly O’Brien is a teacher in London. She’s proactive in nurturing a positive example of digital citizenship in her school and started to use GoBubble to support her ethos in April 2019. Here’s what she has to say:

“GoBubble has made a huge impact at our school. It’s definitely a platform where our children feel safe.

“Since we introduced GoBubble we have seen a reduction in students using Snapchat, WhatsApp and other mainstream social networking sites. And, because GoBubble users are rewarded for the positive interactions they make, we have seen lots of the children giving each other ‘likes’, paying each other compliments and generally acting with kindness and sensitivity.

“Our users quickly learnt that they are responsible for the content they post. It’s preparing them for future interactions whilst giving them more time to be children.

“Our families have certainly seen the positives of GoBubble, and the children enjoy using it too; I would definitely encourage other schools to sign up.”

Students using GoBubble

The Technology

GoBubble uses a unique form of AI powered moderation to remove any problematic content before it appears. Unlike others, we have developed the site to screen both written and video content prior to posting; so, there’s definitively no chance that inappropriate content will appear. This exclusive feature relating to video content is something which the wider industry has struggled with. Consequently, we are in talks with other developers to make our technology available and help them to keep their sites safe too.

The Future

Our user base is continually growing and we’re proud to say that GoBubble is now in 31 countries. Teachers have been getting very excited about the Global Wellbeing Educator Badge and Digital Wellbeing Pledge, both of which were launched as part of the GoBubble 2020 Year of Wellbeing: https://gobubble.school/channel/digitalwellbeing

And, watch out for the team at the conferences and events you’re attending! Or, follow along via Twitter to see what we’re up to! 2020 is already shaping up to be a very exciting year!

Sign up your school at: GoBubble.School

You can keep up with GoBubble news on Twitter @joinbubble

Top tips for the long journey home…

Adobe Spark

Meaningful Screen time, for those times when a screen is a great option!

This summer, my family and I travelled from Nottingham to St. Ives (Cornwall not Nr. Cambridge) 322 Miles to be exact.

A place we have been over and again. Somewhere which for us feels very relaxing and has so much to explore, devices down, for little peoples feet as well as our big feet. Lots of climbing, surfing, walking not to mention a lot of pasties and fish and chips!

Over the week we did very well, the boys had about an hour a day , controlled by our Family Sharing – Screen Time option in my iPhone settings.

We adapted these settings before going away, the iPad down time is set to lock the iPad until 8am. Combatting the desire for the boys to wake up early to play games at the weekend

(we have a rule during term time, devices are only used for education in the week and the weekend limited, monitored “Free play”)

But the summer is different, rules can go out of the window.

So screen time normally in the morning whilst we lazed around and pondered what to do that day, I decided that after dinner I would teach the boys card games, with what my youngest son calls “Real Life Cards”, it was a big part of my growing up and they were easy to take everywhere with us.

So, where am I going with this?

The day we left was a Friday, those of you who have holidayed in England like this will know, Friday and Saturday are leaving and arrival days. If you don’t get out quick, it doubles the journey home.

This was one of those, because our 5 and a 1/2 hour journey just became 9 and a 1/2 hours … OH DEAR!

Now this could have been a frustrating time where we threw the rules out, but instead we tried some things which actually allowed the very slow journey very fun and interactive. All Wifi Free! (You may airdrop images you have taken from your device to theirs, again no WIFI)

So here are my Top Tips for the iPad on your journey home:

  1. Collect images from your holiday, create using the MarkUp tool which is in the photos and add images and captions to the photos, e.g. “What I was really thinking?” or allowing animals in the image to come to life as a character e.g “He thinks I like bread, I am after his ice-cream”
  2. Create a Clips Video of all of the things which happened. If your children are older, they might put them chronologically. Using Clips they can caption, add emojis and music.
  3. Compose music which captures a mood from something you did. You could take turns and try and guess what part of the holiday they are thinking of with the style of music.
  4. A simple one can be using Notes and adding a Sketch, they can draw on it, or upping the game a little you could play hangman or pictionary with them. This will support literacy skills as well.
  5. Create a Photo Book using Pages, they can use a template and add videos, thoughts, names of people they have met and places they went too. This is a great one for children who are going to be going back to school and asked what they did for their summer. By exporting the final version as an EPub they can share their summer with others, anywhere!
  6. Use Photo to doodle each other, getting a bit competitive challenge them to add elements to an image using the MarkUp Draw tools.
  7. Create an Animation of a place or something they did using Keynote. This one can be quite tricky, or very simple. But getting them to re-tell the story is a great way to hold onto their memories. They can even add a voice recording to tell people where it is and why it was their favourite.
  8. Finally, this was is a little more tricky… they can use the new green screen feature on iMovie, capture an image of themselves, add a green bubble on MarkUp in photos. Add a video of something they had done, along with their image into iMovie to make a worm hole… see what is going on in their memory bank.

I hope you have safe travels, remember… #EveryoneCanCreate

Sleep Spiral & Ed Tech

Adobe Spark

I write this, inspired by a considerable lack of sleep. having come back from a wonderful month away from the place I now call home, visiting places which I have once called home. Travelling is a wonderful thing, as well as a luxury, even when it consists of sofa surfing and being on edge to make sure my two boys are always on their best behaviour in other peoples homes.  

But sleep is a strange concept to some, a barrier to others, especially those who have FOMO, we hear about this being a reason some teens and people in general feel they cannot turn off their phones. 

The reality really is a little like this… 

Ditch the Label – Social Media Campaign 

With so many things stop us from sleeping, we need to be able as educators to support educating parents and caregivers to do the simplest of things to support the bodies need for sleep. Because despite it sometimes feeling like it is getting in the way, sleep is something we all need to get us through life. 

I am grateful to have the ability to reach a range of stakeholders – teachers, parents or even that of the student, as an advocate of positive digital technology, it is so important that we work with our parents and students to educate them on the WHY

From reading and researching, it seems that most parents believe that technology is the main cause, of which in some instances, it may well be. But as educators, we need to enhance the reasons we use technology, showcasing the positive side to this way of learning. Changing the perceptions of technology and its impact on our students. Highlighting how we can support the development of everyones digital footprint and digital etiquette. 

“Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best. Most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.” https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/teens-and-sleep 

So WHY? 

Although for many it is the summer holidays, this can be where we neglect the need to limits to screen use because we want to allow children to “relax” but this in itself can be harmful. The National Sleep Foundation shares a range of articles for all ages about the importance of sleep, stress and depression being one of the biggest effects caused by lack of sleep. 

“73% of those adolescents who report feeling unhappy, sad, or depressed also report not getting enough sleep at night and being excessively sleepy during the day.”

Having these conversations, with parents and students can be difficult 

What can we do?

  • Encourage parents to support meaningful device time, setting time limits on devices can get children to evaluate how much time they are using their device for in the day.
  • Add down time to the device, this means that unless requested the device can only be used during the day. 
  • Devices limited to communal areas of the home, allowing parents and guardians the ability to ask questions and raise concerns if they think they have been using something for too long.
  • Speak to the school and teachers, find out if they use devices, what do they use them for, if it is a 1:1 school or a digitally savvy school, they will have support and guidance for parents to showcase the WHY. 
  • Give students a voice, get them to pass the messages to their parents about why they use technology but also … 
  • Highlight the dangers of not being educated about digital safety
  • Promote open conversations between families in your schools community
  • Support parents to add screen time options onto their childs device (see my Screentime blog)

Embedding technology into the education system in the right way can only support a positive view on technology usage. As an educator I support and promote staff in my school to only use technology if and when it enhances a lesson and is truly meaningful. Growing up around this style of learning allows students to become creative and inquisitive, with the additional benefit of being able to understand the educational benefits of using a device. 

Parents also need to take charge, remember that the device they gave their child, is actually theirs so they make the rules. I would always advocate an open conversation with children, explain why they cannot have every app, why night time is for sleep and why we have age restrictions. You might even agree to reduce your own screen time. This can be difficult but it will be worth while.

Resources to help develop this in your own school can be found in a range of places Hannah Whaley has a brilliant range of books about Digital Literacy for FS-KS2. These are great short stories which can promote some excellent positive conversations with young children. In the coming weeks i will be posting some lesson plans for how you can integrate this into digital literacy in your school. 

Google have the Be Internet Awesome campaign, which not only has interactive lessons for educators but gives parental support for at home. 

There are also some fantastic app choice advice on common sense media as well as family resources. As well as lesson plans for the full range of key stages and academic grade levels. 

Finally, for older students there is a brilliant site called ditch the label this frank site is actually to stop bullying, but it deals very well with real online instances, some of which are the things keeping students up at night. 

OLD WAYS WON’T OPEN NEW DOORS

As half term approaches and the usual stresses and strains appear in the school; planning, marking, assessment, targets, tracking, intervention … as well as the normal day to day pastoral issues, which never cease to amaze me, the vast range of things which could fall under this umbrella.  I have had a very reflective week.

Mid-way through this week was CPD, a brilliant training session from The Applied and Behavioral Training Institute,  which made me giggle a little inside at how similar my role in school is to what the trainer in front of us, talking about behaviour management, was trying to tell us.

It was all about strategies, which most of us have been taught during teacher training year, but the refresher and some new tips were helpful in such a busy week.  As it is our role to support our students and to endeavour to keep trying, stay strong when learned habits from individual students continue to return.

So why was this funny? Across the year I deliver CPD, have drop-in sessions for staff and try my best to support them in new technologies, new technologies which I hope will help ease the strains of their role.  I am positive that the digital elements we embed in our curriculum are always meaningful and well used.  But when we first begin to use them, just like behaviour management strategies, we find it hard, we find elements difficult and we are impelled to believe that the best way, is the way we did it before.  Just like behaviour management is hard to keep doing, it can be hard to do new things when there feels like there already is such a lot to do.

Technology has, and always will create things to make our lives easier. That is one of the wonderful things about it.  But, perseverance is key, just like the student in your class who shouts out or needs a little more attention for whatever reason, with continued practice, we can support them to be the best they can be.  Just like with continued use, we can use the right technologies to support our working balance, enhancing engagement of our 21st-century learners whilst utilizing programs and software which take the strain of a job which can be relentless. Let us not switch off because it feels too complicated or hard.

I found a brilliant quote today which said,

“I am yet to have a student tell me they can’t use technology in class because they haven’t had professional development on it”

(Unknown)

Teachers are lifelong learners, a trait we should instill in all the students we teach.

Tips:

Nearpod is brilliant for not only engaging learners but also for creating tests which mark themselves.  Using the ‘Quiz’ function you can make an exam or multiple choice test which learners can complete at their own pace.

Showbie, an online paperless classroom.  Being a teacher of a digital subject it is so helpful to be able to collate the work of all of my KS2 classes.  They upload work, images and reflect, from there I am able to give individual feedback to students, personalising their learning. Breaking down lessons into curriculum strands, WALT and WILF’s are there and can be accessed by pupils at any time.  Pre-planning my lessons options is really helpful as well, allowing me to hide elements from classes until they need them.