My first Pelecon TeachMeet

I went to the PELEcon teachmeet and was inspired by some of the ideas I heard and met new people. I learnt a lot about the activities you can use with children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and the dangerous of using labelling in the classroom. I thought about what kind of teacher that I want to be, and believe that this is an important thing to start thinking about at my stage of the training. Finally, I learnt about the flipped roles of the learner.

Firstly, labelling in the classroom is important. The labels teachers give to pupils in their classroom may not always be right and should not be based on a negative idea of what people will become because they only have one parent, they’re in care, have suffered a trauma or have English as an Additional Language (EAL). If you give children a positive label they will meet their potential and be whatever they want to be. See the potential in your pupils and keep your expectations high.

Secondly, I learnt that there are programmes to help children who may not have the highest confidence and children who have SEN. One of these programmes is incredibox/isle of tune, which can be used from children in Key Stage 2 (KS2) and upwards, although, it cannot be used with tone death children. With this programme you can make music through a fictional city. What is also good about this software is that it can be used with gifted and talented children. I believe this programme can be used across the curriculum to help support children.

Next, there was a presentation by Oliver Quinlan (@OliverQuinlan), a lecturer at Plymouth University, who talked about his experiences with PGCE students. He did a workshop where he asked “what kind of teacher do you want to be?”. This got me thinking how important it is to figure out what kind of teacher you want to be at an early stage so the children will get the best experience of learning that they possibly can. I decided that, looking back at when I was in primary school, I wanted to be the kind of teacher that was entertaining, committed, took risks and have a love for learning. By ‘having a love for learning’ I mean not only updating my knowledge and experience outside teaching but not being afraid of getting things wrong some of the time.

I learnt a lot from the next presentation because of the extent it emphasised that adults have on their children’s use of technology. To me, this means that if teachers are not confident in their use of technology, then the next generation won’t be, and this is already happening. Not as many people are going into computer programming university degrees because the knowledge they gain at school is mainly software based.

I experienced this myself. I am an ICT specialist at the University of Plymouth, and to get on the course I did GCSE and A level ICT. In GCSE, it was all software based. I remember making things such as animation, which was the good bit of the course and was the closest we got to programming. Although, I remember doing a lesson long traffic-lights activity which is simple programming. Then we did spread sheets, word etc, the ‘business’ part, which will apparently make you more employable if you are able to use these. For a level we did the same. We did one exam which was based on a business scenario and then went on to do a series of other scenarios and practical’s on ‘how to search the internet’ and how to create a header for a business document.

When did my first placement in November, this was present as well and ICT wasn’t really being used in a cross curricular way, maybe because of the lack of computers at the school at the time. This is because of lack of space and money to spend on it. I believe that there should be money spent in schools on technology made fun and money spent on teachers training to increase confidence. I am a strong believer in that if the teacher is confident teaching that the children will be confident learning.

Research is currently being taken out by a third year on my course (@kelsto07) on teachers attitudes towards Interactive White Boards (IWB). After a questionnaire being completed by teachers and students in the UK and around the world, she found exactly what I have mentioned above that there is not sufficient training on how to use IWB. Most of the knowledge that teachers had were ‘self-taught’. She also found that if the teachers give the children a positive experience to technology it could contribute to increased confidence. Schools and teachers may not know about the training that is available to them and their staff and may be worried about different variants such as cost, time and availability. She also found that the IWB is good when used properly. Also, schools may have different IWB software and therefore when starting at a new school children need to start all over again.

With this, the teacher could teach in a ‘flipped classroom’, as Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) suggested. The flipped classroom is where learners teach. This way they have to learn and understand it to teach it. This isn’t only technology based but can be used in any subject in the primary curriculum. A good way of doing this is through Pecha Kutcha, which has been written about by Hannah Shelton (@HannahSheltonTT).

But the only problem with using this is that it reinforces the stereotype that only young people use technology like you see in programmes such as ‘Waterloo Road’. This was developed more by Prensky suggesting the ‘Digital Natives and Immigrants’, and then criticised by many writers including David White and himself. Some that criticised Prensky suggested that teachers need role models in ICT to inspire and share technology with them in order to develop their skills. Teaching word processing etc is boring. I believe that if you think its boring teaching it, then its going to be boring learning it.

Terry Freedman (@TerryFreedman) has made a project book called “The amazing 2.0 web project book” which is a free resource that has been collaboratively made by teachers to give anyone in education practical ideas for using web 2.0 and “cutting-edge” technology. This was really useful to me in how I plan my lessons for my coming up placement and how I go about finishing off and thinking about my assignment on the implications of web 2.0.

The next presentation suggested that change is invertible and this is progress in the opinion of the CEO of general electrics. But with this we need to consider certain factors, such as behavioural factors, technical skill, communication, adaptability, cross generalisation and that it is expertise in more older people vs seniorities in more young people. Younger people want to work individually where older people would rather work in teams.

Another presentation suggested that empathy was the missing link in teacher education and that more on the job training was to come and that this would lead to development through study. But the question is, is this training or education and do universities use too much abstract theory. As well as this there is also a business model map which suggests what do they think, say and do.

Finally, the last presentation talked about why is a blog useful for us? Or our primary skills? It may reflect on our learning, fill in blanks or give you more avenues, give you access to audience of professionals or get help with something that you don’t know about. It can also be a fact of self-promotion. Your thoughts can be more concentrated and you can swap things around to help your self-reflection. On the other hand, the purpose of a blog may not be needed to be emphasised because it is what you make of it.  In the end the power of sharing is really important…the more you share the more you know.