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Edtech – How I overcame my fear of technology

April 25, 2022, 9:26 GMT+1
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  • Jackie Birch, Primary Teacher of the Year 2021, explains how she was converted to technology use in lockdown...
Edtech – How I overcame my fear of technology

As I sat in our staffroom at the very start of lockdown in March 2020 to be told that school would close and children would be learning from home, I was filled with absolute dread.

The enormity of our children missing valuable education time with their friends and the thought of how I would teach children with an iPad that I could barely use, mortified me.

How could I give these children my absolute best when my digital skills were so poor? I accidentally took a photo of my leg as I sat there; I couldn’t even take a picture, never mind video myself, download information or upload lessons!

Fortunately, I’m supported by amazing colleagues who gathered round to coach and support me with skills that I would need when working alone, from home.

It was the start of an amazing journey that I have travelled alongside my students. I had to step up to the mark.

That weekend I decided that I needed to overcome my self-consciousness at being videoed, so I filmed myself delivering my first lesson, and prepared and uploaded lessons ready for the next day.

I found that being organised and uploading lessons the day before took away some of the anxieties of using technology and I quickly became more confident in these skills.

Some days I videoed my dog and called it Maths with Maggie, to try to deliver lessons in a different way and to engage children.

Back in school full time, from June 2020, I continued to deliver digital lessons to those children at home as well as utilising my newfound skills in class.

I created an iMovie celebrating my children’s time in Year 2 and shared this with parents and children at home.

I received so many messages saying how much this was appreciated when children were still at home and hadn’t seen their friends in many weeks.

When back in school, all of our team were encouraged to carry out Apple training and become Apple Teachers. We are a competitive team and all of our staff gained Apple Teacher status.

Our school and Trust have made major improvements in the use of technology and our digital strategy aims to empower pupils to control their own learning and prepare them to thrive in today’s digital world.

All of our children in KS2 have an iPad, and each class in KS1 and EYFS have a number of iPads. As a result of using technology, children are able to access a range of learning opportunities, both inside and outside the school day.

Students have developed their skills, are able to set their own goals; their learning is personalised, enabling them to achieve their full potential.

As Covid restrictions were still not fully lifted, my colleague and I created a digital Nativity with children learning lines and British Sign Language carols. We then had to find a digital platform to upload a lengthy video.

This can’t replace the joy of seeing a live performance but went someway to ensuring parents and children weren’t missing out completely.

Two years down the line I’m a digital convert and I don’t go into the ‘Panic Room’ at the thought of using a new app, Jamboard, Padlet or screen mirroring.

I don’t leave school without my iPad. Zoom and Teams calls to communicate with parents and colleagues have become second nature.

My daily teaching involves learning experiences planned and delivered using the iPad and increasing opportunities for students to develop their skills.

I’m much more confident in teaching them to use the iPads (TTRockstars, Bug Club and Phonics Play) and programs such as Pages, Notes and iMovies.

We talk to children about perseverance and resilience, so what message would I be sending to them if I hadn’t risen to the challenges and given them my best?

As I said at the start, in the words of Strictly, “I’ve been on a ‘journey’ and it’s continuing…

Jackie Birch is assistant principal and Year 2 teacher at St Peter’s C. of E. Primary School, Hindley, part of Quest Trust. She won the Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School, in 2021.

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