Here in HWDSB, we’ve been talking about how to transform relationships, environments and learning opportunities. The driver is pedagogy, but the accelerator is technology. Asking students to do this is one thing – but what about the educators? I’m asking connected educators around our district how they use technology to accelerate their learning.
Adele Stanfield is a funny, thoughtful teacher in our district who believes passionately in doing what is best for kids and in the power of professional learning. I was so glad that she agreed to share her experiences with all of us.
What is your role in HWDSB?
IT teacher with a focus on promoting authentic use of technology and inquiry.
What led you into education?
This is a second career for me. I was a counsellor with Young Offenders and Children’s Aid clients, ended up supporting my clients in school. From there it was an easy leap into teaching.
What are your go-to pieces of tech?
Since Queen Victoria has 1 to 1 iPads, that is definitely my go-to when I’m teaching. I rarely use the interactive technology of the SmartBoard, preferring the ease of use of the Apple TV. My iPhone is my personal go-to. And to complete the Apple Trifecta, I’m usually carrying my Macbook Pro because I like to type on a laptop.
Twitter or something else?
Depends what my needs are. For PLN (Professional Learning Network), Twitter is a must, although I appreciate HWDSB’s jump into Yammer. Having a PLN without borders (Twitter) is exceptional, but sometimes you want that local interaction (Yammer). My favourite PD is joining in on Twitter chats, and I find even when I’m in a hurry, I can throw out a question to the Twittersphere and get quick responses. I appreciate a good educational podcast too, although it’s one-sided, so doesn’t allow room for conversation.
How has technology shifted the way you learn?
I have often said that I don’t think I could teach without technology now that I’ve been immersed in it for a few years. I can do things–my students can do things–that weren’t possible 5 years ago. Tech allows me to connect with others, to learn with/from others, to problem-solve, to find innovative things to do with students. There are no limits! I can learn how to do almost anything by watching simple videos, listening to a podcast, or reading a blog post. And the beauty in all of this: it’s virtually free!
What’s your best piece of advice for those wondering how to use tech to accelerate their learning?
I attended a workshop a few years back that had the best title: “It’s okay to be where you are, it’s just not okay to stay there.” So, my advice? Just move forward. As educators, we need to model lifelong curiosity so our students see that learning doesn’t stop when they leave school. Seek out a PLN that can help you improve your practice, that can take you a bit outside of your comfort zone, where really good learning takes place. Set small goals (join Twitter, join a Yammer group, practice using an app, start blogging) so you don’t get overwhelmed. And don’t worry about failure. I find I learn way more from my mistakes than from my successes.