Using ICT in primary (elementary) schools - what shall I say?
May 3, 2014 4:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm a career changer and coming to the end of training to be a teacher. There's a job going in my current school, including responsibility for ICT and I'd love to apply for it. The problem is, I'm too new to be fully qualified for it as it stands - but it's a fantastic school and I'd really love to teach there. I plan to have a conversation with the Head to ask them to let me at least apply, so that I'd be considered alongside the other, more experienced, candidates. Then they can decide whether to interview me and whether my potential outweighs my lack (so far) of experience as a teacher. I'm putting together some proposals to show to them, as part of my planned 'pitch'. My line will be 'I'm new but I have loads of great ideas' - and that's where I need your help.

I *do* have plenty of ideas, but the question is what's most realistic? What would make a big impact in a primary (elementary) school without costing the earth and without taking up an unreasonable amount of time for the staff?

Better use of the school website? (eg Class pages with photos and details of what we've been doing this week)
Best ways to use the new iPads we've recently bought? (Enough for a class at a time, in rotation.)
Training for staff to better use the equipment we've already got?
Piloting / testing things in the keenest classrooms?
Ideas for how best to implement the planned changes to the UK ICT curriculum, which some teachers are nervous about delivering?
Visits for staff to other schools to see how they use ICT? (There's others in our region that use it much more extensively than us.)

I can (and will) research these things for myself, of course, but are there things that you've seen yourself in a school that have impressed you, either as a member of staff, as a visitor or as a parent?

Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Education (4 answers total)
My SO is a state secondary school English teacher who recently completed a small study in information literacy, which is a viable peripatetic teaching strategy for a new teacher with ICT expertise to gain classroom experience. Feel free to send me a message and I will put you in touch with her.
posted by parmanparman at 4:50 AM on May 3, 2014

As a high school principal, when I'm interviewing I'm always keen for people who have innovative ideas but if your ideas are going include training my staff, sending them to visit other schools (or otherwise take up their valuable time), or changing already established things, I may not appreciate this as much as you might think.

New ideas are great with these caveats:

* you understand that the school already has an established culture that you are willing to learn before you start trying to change things;
* you can work well with other people. So if you have all these ideas you want to implement, you don't understand that perhaps nobody appreciates a first-year maverick.
* innovative ideas are great but as a principal, my eyes are on the financial bottom line, test results, and milieu happiness. So if your ideas are going to cost me money, give my staff additional work or headaches, or otherwise make peoples' lives difficult (even initially), then they may not be the best ideas.

What I mean is this: I've interviewed very keen self starters who during the interview have explained how they will bring new ideas to the school, all the things they will change and the training they want all teachers to go through. It's clear those candidates didn't want to actually know what my school already did, what approaches we've tried and discarded, and how much all of their ideas would cost.

You have to be really careful when interviewing about not going overboard with all your new ideas; it can alienate administrators.

Instead, tell me when you've worked well with teachers, with kids, with parents. Tell me about an unorthodox approach you used with success.

I would rather work with someone who's not all that intelligent but can work well with others than a super bright person who wants to change too many things too quickly. Schools work slowly and we need flexible people.
posted by kinetic at 5:05 AM on May 3, 2014 [4 favorites]'s a fantastic school and I'd really love to teach there.

Emphasize this in your interview. Discuss what you've learned and how you'd apply these ideas in your own practice. Most admins love to hear about why an applicant likes their particular school. Be sure to show enthusiasm!

If you were in my school, I would hope that you had the self-confidence to just go ahead and apply. Don't ask if you should do it; just do it.
posted by kinetic at 9:27 AM on May 3, 2014

You should definitely apply. What could you possibly have to lose? And, as kinetic wrote, you don't need to ask.

Something to think about and have a really good answer for is how are you going to really listen to the teachers? You've already identified that some are nervous about the new UK ICT curriculum. OK, what do you know about that? What conversations have you had with teachers? Do you have a story that shows you can understand their needs? New tech ideas are easy. Gaining the trust of other teachers so everyone can implement them is the key.
posted by Gotanda at 4:55 PM on May 3, 2014

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