For some reason I have chosen today to share my personal story so here goes, for people that don't already know it, ... I was a misunderstood child ... just joking, I meant my personal iPad story.
I have to admit I have always been a bit of a gadget geek but I have also never rushed out and purchased the latest thing. I like to wait for people to discover and fix the bugs and for prices to come down. The first time I ever saw an iPad was a TV advertisement in early 2011. I wasn't impressed and didn't really see what it had on a laptop, apart from rotating orientation. At that time, in my year 2 class, I had a student with autism. She received an iPad from an autism organisation and her mother bought it in to show me - it was love at first sight. I saw so much potential for the iPad in the classroom. Soon after, I bought my first iPad and I took it to school. I used it with the whole class and particularly with my student with autism. I had to buy myself another one so I could gave a play too.
As I had been using an iPad in my classroom, when KPS was selected to be part of the early childhood iPad initiative, I was selected to be the school project coordinator. At that time my role was really on the device management and deployment side but, as a year 2 classroom teacher, I also got to use a set of iPads in the classroom. At this stage we had a great time playing with commercial apps but I also created texts for guided reading along with some sight word resources. The following year, at the same time as I moved into a specialist IT teacher role we became one of 10 schools in WA to be regarded as a lighthouse school as part of the ILNNP iPad component. Part of my role last year and this year is to provide support to classroom teachers in their implementation of iPads as a tool in the classroom. This has been provided via this bog, professional development during PD days, staff meetings and after school sessions as well as in class support and modelling.
During the last 2 and a half years that we have been using iPads we have had 1 visit from the Apple Education Team, 3 visits from the ILNNP iPad Consultant and I and another staff member have attended workshops in Perth provided for ILNNP Lighthouse Schools. These workshops and visits mostly provided us with a way of seeing how other schools are using iPads and enabled us to see some of the possibilities. We have also sought out and engaged in Professional Learning by other providers. All of this was invaluable in our journey but, being quite isolated in Kalgoorlie, we still encountered many roadblocks and issues along the way including planning for deployment, setting up and syncing, working out VPP, engaging and providing support to teachers, wi-fi infrastructure, charging and storage, setting up Apple TVs, ensuring we were using best practice, using the SAMR model and many, many more. All of these issues we had to solve for ourselves but we saw them as challenges, not problems.
For me, it has been empowering overcoming problems as they arise and making sure that iPads are a useful addition to our school. Lucky for me, I absolutely love being a teacher and can genuinely say I look forward to every day with excitement. There is not an evening or a weekend that has gone by in the last 2 years that I haven't spent at least some time on an iPad with the intention of improving how we are using iPads at our school. Initially I spent a lot of time researching and testing apps that we could use then I moved onto finding ways that we could develop resources to differentiate learning. I now spend most of the time exploring web based resources, learning management systems and lesson delivery options along with apps that can be used to develop personalised activities.
Why did I decide to tell this story? Because I want to share that I am thrilled with where KPS is in regard to iPads and I know we can do even better. We have certainly received some support in our journey but most of it has come through hard work and commitment from staff. Our mantra is "Pedagogy first, technology second" and as easy as iPads are to set up and use, they are just as easy to put away when they are not relevant to a lesson. Introducing any new tool to every teacher in a school and making sure they use it appropriately to enhance their teaching doesn't happen without hard work.