ADE 2015 or no man is an island – thank goodness!

Back in March I applied to become an Apple Distinguished Educator it was something that I had long wanted to do.  A few months later I was delighted to receive an email telling me that I had been selected, to say I was thrilled doesn’t quite cover it! 

As part of your new found ADE status you are invited to attend a week long ADE institute which this year took place in Amsterdam. This is my review of a truly awe inspiring week.

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I live on the Isle of Man it’s a rock 35km by 12km in the middle of the Irish Sea it’s a beautiful place but believe me when I tell you that it can sometimes be wild and desolate too.  Island life can be… well, isolating. There are times when you feel well and truly cut off from everything.  One of the reasons I took to Twitter 3 years ago was to try and combat the sense of isolation in an education context.

The one thing that you learn on Twitter is that there are many of us who use technology in our classrooms to enhance teaching and learning but we are still in the minority and you can feel a bit like a one man band or as Stuart Hammersley @depipads puts it the “mad iPad man”  And yet when you step into your ADE institute the feelings of isolation and indeed madness fade away because literally every single person you meet is as passionate as you are about the use of technology in the classroom. It is incredible.

It has taken me ages to write this blog post largely because my head has been so full of ideas since institute, it has taken me weeks to process all that I learnt, in fact, I am still processing.  I went on holiday straight after institute and for the first week I swear I barely slept as idea after idea kept spinning round and round in my head. In the end I had to write a list on my iPhone in order that I could get some sleep!

Institute was a full on week of CPD.  I was captivated and inspired by the presentations of my fellow ADE’s leading me to sometimes wonder how on earth I had managed to become an ADE in the first place!  Bill Frakes’ session on photography was incredible his work on Estonia made me cry and his Nebraska skies film took my breath away! 

I have a long held, passionate dislike for text books and I already had it in my mind that I was going to make greater use of iBooks Author and produce my own iBooks in the coming academic year so sessions on how to create them and Alan Rosenfeld’s session on design really resonated with me. 

I really appreciated the chance to be able to talk things over with others who think like I do.  I have had a community project idea in my head for many years now but I have never really been able to get it off the ground.  Institute relit the glowing embers of this idea for me as one of the task set for us during the week was a community project.  As it happens I chose not to go down this route right now instead choosing to do produce a One Best Thing iBook, but following many, many discussions with Apple staff, fellow ADE’s and alumni and a great session on community projects I know that I will now get this project off the ground.

Institute helped me to define myself as an educator. What kind of teacher am I?  I concluded that I love being creative in the classroom and producing interesting lessons that will hopefully captivate my students and encourage them to have a love of language learning.  Lessons like – solving a murder, designing a new home for a victim of the Haitian earthquake, learning about adjectives and animals via the works of Henri Rousseau. I could go on and on.  What has also become clear is that Apple products will help me and my students to continue being creative and my fellow ADE’s will be the ones who push me to continually improve as a teacher.

My favourite thing about the week was the people.  They are passionate believers in purposeful use of technology in the classroom.  They are generous sharers of ideas.  They  are great listeners and advice givers. They are funny, kind, supportive and friendly and I am very, very proud to be one of them.