With all the time spent marking and grading over the course of a year, educators regularly find themselves praising and awarding for students for their hard work and efforts. So every now and then it's nice to recognise those teachers who really have stood out for their contributions and achievements in a particular area.
That is exactly what the Pearson Teaching Awards are all about, and we are delighted to share the news that a member of the Microsoft in Education community had their hard work acknowledged during the ceremony at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on Sunday 18th October.
Regular readers of this blog will already be familiar with MIEExpert Ray Chambers, who is head of ICT at Uppingham Community College, and somewhat of a trailblazer in terms of the integration of Minecraft into the curriculum. Earlier this year Ray earned a Silver award for Outstanding use of Technology in Education, and last Sunday he was presented with the Gold Platos Awards For Outstanding Teachers within the same category.
Anyone tuning in to BBC2 on Sunday night may have seen 'Britain's Classroom Heroes', and if you watched all the way to the end you will have seen the moment Ray was presented with his award (56’55” in the broadcast). The next day he was also interviewed by BBC Radio Leicester during which he spoke talk about his award, and also how he sees technology playing an important and considered part in education.
When asked if he had a particular style of teaching, Ray way quick to speak of how he approaches the use of technology in the classroom as a pathway to understanding the subject matter:
"Anything that engages the students. One of the things we like to do is use Minecraft to teach some of the difficult topics in computer science… Getting students to read out of text books can be a bit draining. What we can do to make it engaging is get them to still do their reading from the text book and do the theory, but then build a Minecraft world out of it, or do programming, or do robotics."
Later on in the interview Ray also offered his thoughts on the notion the way that some tech is being misused in classroom, particularly in the often hasty use of devices and apps:
"I don't think people actually look at the bigger picture - what are the students going to get out of using that particular app? …[If they] take a lot of time to digest what the students will get from it, you'll have a bigger impact, I think."
But taking a class in Computer Science or lessons in coding doesn't necessarily limit the learning to the realms of technology, as Ray continues:
"[coding] is a great way to engage their problem solving, and actually there's a lot of links in finding patterns in algorithms that link with music as well."
We'd recommend listening to the whole interview, as it is a very thought provoking discussion that teachers of all subjects will be able to take things from. It can be found here on BBC iPlayer, and is available until Wednesday 18th November (the interview with Ray starts around the 2'03" mark).
We do hope you'll join us in congratulating Ray on this achievement, and if you'd like an insight into what it is he is doing in the classroom that's causing the excitement, you can read his blog and follow him on Twitter.