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Steve Wheeler

Steve Wheeler has spent his entire career working in educational technology. He is currently Associate Professor of Learning Technology at Plymouth University, where his research interests include social media and mobile technologies in education. He has conducted research into learning technology in all sectors of education and training and, having been invited to present his findings at conferences in more than 30 countries, he is truly a global educator.

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Publications by Steve Wheeler

Learning with ‘e’s

In an age where young people seem to have a…

Don’t Change the Light Bulbs

Curated by Rachel Jones, Don’t Change the Light Bulbs offers…

Author Blog

Teacher Voices: Lloyd Chilcott

March 20 2017

Finding out what former students are doing now they are qualified, is one of the joys of teaching. In this series I am featuring interviews with those who have gone on to become qualified teacher. This is number seven in the ongoing series.

Lloyd Chilcott studied a BEd degree (specialising in ICT) at Plymouth between 2011 and 2015, achieving first degree honours and a dissertation award. He completed his NQT year last year at an inner city school in Plymouth. Since then he has been backpacking through North America, Australasia, and now Asia.

1) What made you decide to become a teacher? What/who inspired you? What were your motivations?
I’d like to say I wanted to become a teacher because of an inspiring professional who provided me with a love for learning, or for the joy of the lightbulb moment witnessed in the eyes of an enthralled student. But alas, I wanted to become a teacher because I looked at the adult at the front of the room and thought, that looks fun! Whilst unfortunately true, this origin story does do a disservice to the many fantastic teachers that did guide me through my primary years. Such an incredible individual was Mr Yeomans, a funny, caring, confident man who filled me with self-belief and a surprisingly good ability at tag-rugby. I left primary school thinking that he, like many others, was part of my education history, however 10 years later when I joined Plymouth University, who should be leading my specialism but Mr Yeomans! And once again he was there to give me the confidence to achieve the best I could. Mr Yeomans unfortunately left the University during my degree, leaving Steve Wheeler to run the show, but I am still extremely appreciative for his role in my life and the good that he did.

2) What is the best thing about being a teacher in a primary school? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Working with children. Children are the most enjoyable, awe-inspiring constant I’ve known. Sure, some kids can be tricky, and you may have to remind yourself that there are more good times than bad, but sharing a genuine moment with a child can fill you up with unprecedented happiness.

3) What does it take to become an excellent teacher? What characteristics do the best teachers have?
An excellent teacher must remember that a child is a person. A tiny person with smaller person shoe sizes, but most certainly a person. This may seem trivial and obvious but I've witnessed an uneasy amount of professionals belittle, embarrass and shout at children. We wouldn't dare do this to a friend or co-worker. Children are people and they are as emotional beings as you or I.

4) What do you consider your greatest achievement to date as an educator?
My first class was the 'oh, you have that class?! Well It was nice knowing you’ class. On top of that the school was in a very tricky area and I was still an NQT. As one parent put it, “I had been thrown in the deep end of the baptism of fire”. But I managed to not only survive the year, but feel that I made a real difference to many of those kids.

5) How can we improve education? If you were the Secretary for Education, what would be your first priorities?
We must try to engage parents more and make more opportunities for them to develop skills to support their child's education and personal development. How we do this, I don't know, but it must transcend giving homework and having two parents evenings a year. Parents are the biggest influence in a child's life and we could support children far more if we provide far more support to parents.

6) What are the most innovative uses of technology in education (that you have done yourself, or have seen)?
Using VR (Virtual Reality), or augmented reality, seems to have boundless potential for education. Whilst I've unfortunately not seen this in person, I'll be the first to give it go! Just look, who wouldn't want to learn like this.

7) What is your favourite story or memory of teaching children you would like to share?

When reaching for the door, a child in my class jumped in front of me and opened it. As I went to say thank you, he said excitedly (whilst vigorously wiggling his eyebrows), “I’m sorry Mr Chilcott but I didn't think you could HANDLE opening the door”. We shared a love for terrible puns. This was a particularly terrible pun and it was perfect. My day was littered with silly little moments like that and it was absolutely my favourite thing.

8) What advice would you give those who are just about to start out on the pathway to becoming a teacher?
Teachers want to help - it's what they do. So get in touch with as many teachers as you can and start talking. They will give you practical advice, realistic expectations and great resources. And once you start teaching, you can even share your war stories with them.

9) What will schools of the future look like? What would you like to see happening in the next 10 years?
Unfortunately I think schools of the future will look much like the schools of today, which look much like the schools of the past. However I would like to see a paradigm shift in how schools look with flexible, highly accessible, collaborative learning spaces that integrate different technologies to provide an education that is based on skills, not general knowledge.

10) What are the most significant challenges facing education right now?
Excessive work hours, a significant lack of resources, a government driven by Victorian values, the negative image of teachers perpetuated by much of the media, and the test-driven culture that has greatly hampered teacher creativity and enjoyment. But hey, at least the holidays are good! ...Right?

Photo courtesy of Lloyd Chilcott

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Teacher Voices: Lloyd Chilcott by Steve Wheeler was written in Singapore and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

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Use your learning powers

March 17 2017

Makey Makey in action
Some time ago I wrote a blog post on innovative teaching - where teachers take risks, stand back to let students learn for themselves, and provide challenging and engaging experiences. Well, that is exactly what some of my student teachers practised this week when we crossed over the river to spend the day in one of our local primary schools.

After taking a whole school assembly on 'staying safe online' in front of 400 children at Carbeile Junior School in Torpoint, they set about engaging the children with a range of technologies.

Bluebots and numbers
The children quickly and enthusiastically got to grips with Makey Makey (where they made a piano keyboard out of grapes, and eventually musical instruments out of each other!), Lego We Do robots controlled by Scratch (where they learnt the physics of how to make the robots take penalty kicks and to save the penalties too), as well as exploring numbers and algorithmic thinking with iPad controlled Bluebot floor robots. Oh, and our vintage Bigtrak roamers also made an appearance out on a race track in the playground.

The challenge for the children was to discover for themselves how to make these technologies work and to learn from their use. It goes without saying that they energetically went about exploring these tools for themselves and they very quickly discovered new and exciting ways to apply them. My students had very little to do but scaffold the learning, and occasionally give some specific advice and explanations when one or two children came up against a problem they couldn't solve on their own.

Scratch controlled Lego footballers
The key ethos of Carbeile is that children use their 'Learning Powers' to Learn, Grow and Achieve, and this they did with enthusiasm. In fact they surprised us with the creative ways they found out for themselves, and made the technology do things we hadn't planned or considered.

It was a joy to work alongside such confident, polite and engaged children, and, as I am sure my student teachers will agree, it was a trip well worth making, just to see these children use their learning powers.

Photos by Steve Wheeler

Creative Commons License
Use your learning powers by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

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