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Teacher Stories

Cloe Woodfield teaches learners how to be resilient

Resource teacher for vision, (RTV) Cloe Woodfield was awarded as NEXT Expert Teacher and granted $5000 for her outstanding achievements after completing The Mind Lab’s Postgraduate Certificate in Digital and Collaborative Learning.

Cloe teaches all over the Bay of Plenty through needs-based service BLENNZ; delivering specialist teaching to the visually impaired, ages 0-21. Graduating from The Mind Lab has helped Cloe develop a deeper understanding of accessible technology to support learning, so all students have full access to the curriculum.

“The biggest challenges we have in terms of technology is the accessibility of it.  There’s lots of fantastic technology promoted to the classroom that isn’t accessible to the likes of screen readers.

“For our children, who are the blind or low vision, we use technology in slightly different ways to increase their independence.  We use things like iPads as a viewing tool, not just to support apps. We use the camera, for example, to take a photo of the whiteboard and zoom into a font size, that suits them.”

Increasingly, there are tech solutions designed from the beginning, not just retrofitted with accessibility options, to enable the visually impaired to experience their world in a more customised, intuitive, and independent way. A big part of Cloe’s job is to ensure she’s aware of these new developments and be able to pass that knowledge onto other teachers and learners.

“Teachers should have a toolbox filled with a multitude of solutions”

says RTV, Cloe Woodfield

“Part of my role is to educate teachers so they know of all options available. That way they’re equipped to teach all learners. If they have a low vision learner in their class, they can more easily adapt their practice.”

To thrive as an RTV, aside from keeping abreast of tech developments, Cloe must empower her learners to self-advocate, problem-solve and ultimately become more independent.

“There are many times where children need to learn to problem solve, whether it’s a real-life situation or just in the classroom with their technology not behaving.”

Cloe says sometimes its the small changes that make a significant impact in her learner’s worlds.

“Things that seem simple are actually a huge step towards making my learners independent. Something as simple as, if learners know where the accessibility settings are on their devices and what to do with them, they can then alter settings depending on what they need.”

Cloe has a tremendous sense of pride when she witnesses students access learning on their own and with this freedom succeed in solving their problems.

“Being a teacher in today’s world is more about facilitating the learning process and putting things in place for children, so they can advocate for themselves and take charge of their learning. I allow children to make mistakes and then help them how to reflect on their learning.”

“Ultimately I teach learners how to be resilient.”

Through Postgraduate training, Cloe was exposed to different models of how to learn. She was then able to choose which models of learning suited herself.

“I am much better at understanding myself as a learner now. I was encouraged to use my own views about my learning style in my study, then I’d reflect. This has helped me in so many ways.  I now encourage students to do a lot more reflecting.

“When it comes to children’s IEPs [Individual Education Plan] I ask them to reflect on their learning and not just tokenistic student voice, but actually in their real voice, because I need them to be advocating for themselves, and I need them to understand how they learn.”

Cloe believes that being a teacher in today’s world means you need to be a facilitator of learning.

“I’m not the holder of knowledge. I’m there to facilitate learning experiences for children and making sure they’re not just digitally literate but digitally fluent in today’s world.”

“I’m facilitating the learning process, to encourage learners to be curious and to examine things.  A lot of the technology I work with is braille technology, such as laptops with JAWS [screen reader] or refreshable braille display. A lot of the concepts that I learnt through [The Mind Lab] Postgraduate study I’m applying to this braille technology; for example, if you’re stuck, what are you going to do? If you’ve got a new piece of technology take the time to explore it. Don’t wait to be told what to do with it.”

Cloe’s committed to being a role model for her students and has a strong drive to be a life-long learner.

“I’ve always enjoyed learning. It’s not just important to keep up with different research, or different trends but also to  be challenging yourself and putting yourself in the shoes of your students.”

“I honestly I love my job. I love going to work every day. I love the children I get to work with, and I love that I’m able to use lots of different technologies to open up the world in a way that it hasn’t been possible in the past.”

Find out more how The Mind Lab’s Postgraduate Certificate in Digital and Collaborative Learning can help you.

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