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My toolbox is MY toolbox!

The other day I was on the phone to my Dad (@Gog40) as I was so pleased with our SATs results I had to tell someone! During the conversation we were talking about what contributed to the successes of the results and amongst many things we agreed was the use of blogs and web2.0 technology in Year 6 since January. I must stress at this point that I am a very small piece in the jigsaw of success at Heathfield this year! Everyone has worked so hard and I am so proud to be part of such a team!

As the conversation progressed my Dad seemed to be talking down the use of the technology but raising the issue of how much this technology might have enthused and excited me, as a result, rubbing off on the pupils! This is a very interesting point. It got me thinking about all you of guys that are reading this right now!

Are we any better equipped than a teacher holding their favourite book? Could that book excite and enthuse the teacher so much is empowers their pupils to an extent that brings real change to learning? The answer is most probably – YES! Am I a better teacher because I embrace all these Web2.0 tools? NO! I just have a toolbox full of different tools that I trust and believe in to fix the problems I see before me, I’m certainly no better than the teacher in the next class!

This has really challenged me over the past few days! I’m so hung up on trying to get teachers to use the tools that I’m using but actually, this is not what is important. What is important is getting teachers excited about what they are doing and how they are doing it! Only then will schools see real change and excited and enthused pupils!

16 Comments

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  1. Dodie
    July 10, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    Totally agree! It really isn’t about the tools, but the learning and excitement that goes on in the classroom (by both teacher and students). Everyone’s toolbox has different tools and ‘tricks of the trade’ in it, as teachers we need as many as we can get some days.

    I think it is healthy to think the way you do- and maybe if other teachers see what the students are doing and get excited as well, well that is an added bonus!

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 10, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

      Thanks Dodie for the comment you have made. Healthy thinking is good!!

  2. James Michie
    July 10, 2010 at 9:13 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more. I have spent years trying to turn colleagues onto using the same web2.0 stuff I’m using or to use video in the classroom or some other #edtech oriented thing. What I realised over time is that this worked for some but overall had a very limited success rate.

    More recently I have taken to planting seeds and letting people run with things that they have found. One colleague has taken to podcasting, which I have only done limited work with but this is great, she has learned and done loads with her students and can now teach me. Another is introducing HotBooks via the school VLE to the English department and seems quite excited by Storybird as well.

    It is often much easier to drop seeds, encourage and accept that not everyone wants to embrace tech. Change is going to be gradual no matter what. What’s more important is that every member of a department/school is enthused and engaged in the education they are offering to the students in their classroom.

    I guess another way of expressing this is: Trying to get everyone to use the same tools that you use is like trying to fit square pegs in to holes that are round, triangular, octagonal and so on. Every teacher, like every student is different. Its about finding tools that match the shape and interests of the teacher and students that will breed success.

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 10, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

      Thanks for your comment James, I guess that’s why there are only a few teachers on Twitter. It doesn’t float everyone’s boat and aren’t we glad it doesn’t? lol

  3. Dawn Hallybone
    July 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

    David, I totally agree one of the quotes that I use when talking about Games Based Learning is ‘Good teachers use good tools’ = for me use of consoles and games is one of the tools that I use alongside for example, a piece of art or music, books, numbers etc.
    Different teachers have different tools that work for them, but also I think it is about providing a range of tools for the students as well so that they have the tools that are right for them in their learning toolkit!
    Congrats on the SATs results!

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 10, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

      Great comment Dawn. Good tools can be something as simple as a book. We see this in schools when for example an author visits. They can do things with words that I couldn’t even dream about. A tool is only as good as its operator I guess.

      Having said that, the author would struggle for a full year if that was the only tool in the box!

  4. Stephen Davis
    July 10, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    It is like you have been reading my mind! Passion and personality are just as important, if not more, than the use of technology.

    You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig just like a bad teacher using technology is still a bad pig!

    I wrote about this over at John T Spencer’s blog, EdRethink: Education Rethink: Technology or Pedagogy? http://bit.ly/99nOGv

  5. John Mitchell
    July 10, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    May I add one point to the discussion above. How do you motivate those children who are very difficult to motivate for whatever reason? Someone needs to ‘turn that light on again’. Easier said than done, but an enthusiastic teacher using methods they believe in is central. The expectations a teacher has for every child is so important. So if a teacher uses a method they know will help children succeed, children will pick this up and will succeed. Added to that, technology is a very good motivation tool too and may well motivate some children who are very difficult to motivate. So although not the only method to use, technology is a very powerful tool to use, especially if presented in a new way, so all children can make a fresh start and taste success.

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 10, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

      A really good point!! You know from your very challenging years as a teacher that pupils need a fresh start, it does provide another avenue for success!

  6. Cheryl
    July 10, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    What an interesting discussion with some valuable points but I’m going to play devil’s advocate and ask whether some of the new tools to which we have access aren’t, well… just better? As an example, I’ve been following Deputy Mitchell’s world cup blog. Spontaneous, engaging, authentic interaction, not, I would suggest, replicable without that particular kind of platform. Yes, enthusiasm is a vital ingredient but don’t the unique affordances of Web 2.0 technologies mean that it’s incumbent on us to inspire teachers to see their potential if they don’t already?

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 10, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

      Yes, I am biased towards the use of tech as I have seen first hand what it can do for pupils, however, I’m also open minded to resources used by the ‘right’ people in the ‘right’ way that can unlock potential too. Could my class have produced a Germany World Cup project on paper with instant feedback through comments/visitor stats? You’re right – No! However, could a different teacher have taught my class using a different resource (non tech) and inspired them in the same way?

  7. James Michie
    July 10, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    To some extent that is true but much of what happens inside and outside of class depends on context. A blog may be the right tool/platform for one activity but paper may be right for another. It depends on the what the learning outcomes are. As teachers we should be picking our tools not on the basis that we like using them but that pedagogically they are the best tools to help our students achieve the learning outcomes that we have decided upon.

  8. Steve Philp
    July 12, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    2 years ago we changed the curriculum to a teacher-inspired one. Instead of doing Henry VIII and his 6 wives, one teacher did ‘Pirates’ (historically it just about fits in with the current national curriculum requirements). A previously bored and unspiring teacher was suddenly enlivened by it all and it rubbed off onto her children. She suddenly realised that she had a toolbox and didn’t just have to use the one imposed on her by SLT or national government. It’s the 80/20 rule – spend 80% of your time doing the things you already do well / 20% of your time doing new stuff. As leaders we should be releasing our colleagues to do the stuff they already do well, and challenging them to move into new areas about 1 in every 5 interactions…

    PS – looking forward to meeting you at GTA – sorry I won’t make curry in Bradford.

  9. Bev Evans
    July 22, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

    As someone who is always looking for new ways to get pupils engaged (tech or otherwise), particularly the ones who don’t find it easy to get motivated, I think you’re right. It’s not just the tools, or the way we use them. It’s the joy that is evident when we use them – this definitely rubs off on the pupils. I like to come out of left field. I want to make them think and discover for themselves. But I also want to find something that will inspire them be it large or small. Sometimes tech tools can do this just as effectively as a great piece of literature well read – just give them the wow factor and let them fly!

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 22, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

      Agree with you Bev! We have a great job don’t we!!?

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