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Teacher Stories

Jo’s journey through collaboration and beyond

As an IT Specialist teacher and E-learning leader, it would have been easy for Jo Apperley to say she was already doing enough to support digital fluency at Sherwood Primary School.

But Jo recognised that she needed to keep her own learning journey alive.

“As teachers, we do need to make sure that we keep our skills up-to-date. The education system’s changing all the time. We need to make sure that we’re actually up to speed with, in particular, the digital tools that we’re exposing to our children.”

To help her keep on top, the Auckland teacher decided to take on the Postgraduate Certificate in Digital & Collaborative Learning last November.

The self-confessed computer geek said that as someone who enjoys working with technology, she was initially drawn to the digital aspect of the programme.

I really enjoyed having the time to spend looking at something I’ve always wanted to explore having an allocated time to delve into it further with others was great.”

However, Jo soon found huge benefits from the collaborative side as well, quickly incorporating new methods directly into her own classroom and PD.

The collaborative approaches that I’ve learnt through The Mind Lab have made a big difference and staff seem to be benefiting from them as well.”

We popped into Jo’s classroom to see these approaches in action. Jo had recently introduced ‘breakout’ sessions, where her students have to crack codes as quickly as they can. Jo doesn’t know the answers to the codes either, so everyone has to work together to succeed.

We don’t actually have to have all the answers. I think that’s been a really huge eye-opener for me. I always felt that I needed to know how it works and have all the answers but it’s more fun doing it with the children. They love the challenge – they come to me and say, how does it work? And I say, I don’t know! Let’s find out together.”

Another tool Jo has introduced is Makey-Makeys – simple but versatile electronics kits – to get her students working together creatively. In this session, Jo was able to step back from traditional classroom teaching and allow her students to problem-solve together – saving her valuable time to help those who needed more one-on-one support.

“During the Makey-Makey session with the children I was working with, their response was huge. They were so engaged. I shared back with the teachers and other staff members and they also picked up on the vibe and on how much learning happened. Collaboration was evident, there was problem-solving – all these 21st century skills that these children need to have.”

After putting off the programme for three years, Jo’s advice to others wondering if they should take the leap is: ‘Just do it!’  

Find out more about how the Postgraduate Certificate in Digital and Collaborative Learning can help you become a digital, collaborative teacher like Jo.

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