To help us stay close to the realities of the classroom, Promethean has a nationwide network of Advocates who work with us to develop best practice and new technologies. Each term, we’ll invite a Promethean Advocate to share their advice and tips with you based on their own experience.
In this issue, we welcome Sarah Wright – a teacher that in just two years has gone from being an NQT to undertaking a secondment with Edge Hill University leading a module in the use of ActivExpression; whilst in school she is pioneering a funded project to help other teachers explore technology potential.
Having presented on behalf of Naace at Bett earlier this year, Sarah now joins Promethean Education News to share her experiences on the importance of ‘just giving it a go’…
PEN: Thank you again for your time Sarah, could we start with a brief introduction to yourself?
Sarah: Yes of course. Well, two years ago I started my teacher training as a mature student aged 26. I studied at Edge Hill University where I gained my first glimpse of technology in education with things like blogging and interactive whiteboards. When it came to my final placement, there was technology installed in the school, and while it wasn’t being used regularly I could immediately see its potential. When I started my first post at Longton Lane Primary, I was asked what technology I would most like to use and why… having had previous exposure to ActivExpression, this was my first choice because I recognised the power of personalised learning and immediate feedback on student understanding.
PEN: What was the outcome of this?
Sarah: As luck would have it, there was actually a set of ActivExpressions already in school! They were tucked away in an ICT cupboard and hadn’t really been used.
PEN: So is this where your journey began?
Sarah: Most definitely. I literally got them out of the case, walked through the ActivInspire set up and was good to go. From that point forward I explored different ways of using the devices with the children and very quickly found that it allowed me to do something that I physically could not without the technology. Using ActivExpression I could easily capture detailed individual student data that then supported me as a teacher to better inform progression and learning plans, at the same time the kids loved using them.
PEN: How did you progress from using ActivExpression in your own lessons to leading a much bigger technology initiative as part of your secondment?
Sarah: An opportunity arose to bid for funding from the Local Authority to progress the use of technology in education. I prepared a submission, using ActivExpression as the basis, which showed how a fully-fledged ActivClassroom would provide an environment in which teachers could explore and develop techniques to ultimately improve student learning. The bid was a success and we now have a dedicated ActivClassroom at the school which is available for neighbouring schools and teachers to access, with and without their students. As part of my role I work alongside them and basically act as a helping hand to get them on their way.
PEN: From student to technology pioneer in just a few years, that is some journey…
Sarah: It is, but has been an amazing one. It’s really rewarding to support teachers from all backgrounds – recently qualified and more experienced – to grow in confidence and develop their skills.
PEN: What is the best piece of advice you can share when it comes to the technology journey?
Sarah: It doesn’t matter what age you are, or what stage you are at with your career. Don’t be afraid, just have a go. It is your journey and not the school’s, so be prepared to explore outside of your comfort zone, and remember that the best people to share this journey with you are the children. And from a practical perspective, always check in the ICT cupboards – you never know what you might find!
Ask the Advocate
Has Sarah’s experience got you thinking? Is there something you’d like to ask her? Sarah and the rest of the Advocates would love to hear from you, simply email [email protected]
As well as responding directly to readers, we’ll also report back on any questions in the next issue.
The Promethean Advocate network is currently open for applications for new group members. If you are an enthusiastic user of interactive technologies and would like to share your experiences with likeminded teachers, help develop pedagogical best practice, pilot new solutions and participate in educational events – contact Janice Prandstatter at Promethean via email for further details.