James’ involvement with the Innovative Teachers Network is fairly recent. He joined a local network created by Alessio Bernardelli, a former Innovative Teachers Award winner himself. The goal of the network is to establish the Innovative Teachers community throughout comprehensive schools in Torfaen, South Wales. Like many teachers (myself included) who first engage with such a network, he didn’t realise how valuable an experience it would be to himself, his school and his students.
James, is Head of Geography at Croesyceiliog Comprehensive school, an 11-18 mixed school that serves the town of Cwmbran. He gave himself some clear objectives when he undertook this project. He wanted to ensure that this was not just an ‘ICT’ project, but included other aspects of how the school is transforming learning, such as student peer teaching.
He encouraged his students by coaching them in the ‘mechanics’ of newly introduced software and allowed the opportunity to create a sequence of lessons in which this software was employed. The software he introduced his students to was Microsoft OneNote, PhotoStory and Deep Zoom. This gave students the opportunity to ‘peer teach’ coach fellow students in using the new software. As a result they were able to work collaboratively to produce high quality pieces of work. These students went on to act as ‘coaches’ to others throughout their peer/year group, in order that the outcomes of this project were shared.
For James and the others teachers he involved, their role was to guide — rather than instruct — their students in using the ‘new’ software and discuss its possibilities. They worked with students to identify how such software could enhance their learning.