Being a teacher was a vocation; it was as much a part of me as my name is! Then COVID hit and, as it did for everyone else, everything changed. Within a matter of months my pedagogy evolved more than it has in years. I learnt about the EdTech world outside of my classroom and there was no going back to life before COVID. This is my story.
For a decade I taught predominately RE, PSHE, Citizenship, and Philosophy to KS3-KS5. I love the subjects! The discussions that topics covered create I adore, and the opportunities for both personal and academic growth. I mark GCSE papers for an exam board and regularly lead bespoke CPD in schools around the world. Classes would fly by and students would be enthusiastic about our topics.
During my time in the classroom I had developed enough teaching strategies to make lessons engaging, however found myself totally at a loss when trying to achieve the same results over Zoom. I went from opening up SIMS first thing in the morning, to scrolling through forums and Twitter for teaching tools to enhance my lessons. My initial experiences of remote teaching were not positive ones. It was disconcerting seeing my own face as I taught, I was unable to react to the mood in the room, and I was uncharacteristically conscious of every word I was saying. Then I discovered the world of EdTech.
The first school that I taught in had an interactive whiteboard and I thought that that was at the cutting edge of EdTech! In my day-to-day practises I was using visualisers, homework apps, remote parent pay portals, sending mass text messages, and a departmental Twitter account so I considered myself to be a ‘tech-savvy teacher’. I was not.
Within the boundless walls of my virtual classroom, however, my students and I explored so many different ways of recording and sharing knowledge. We used real-time assessment tools, like those found in Google Classroom; completed group work, using Zoom break-out rooms almost every lesson; utilised visual technology, such as recording lessons, screencasting, and submitting work via video; wrote on digital whiteboards; held silent debates via website platforms; and reached our academic goals through using any EdTech that we could.
When we returned to the classroom the opportunities to continue to use EdTech were not there. Whilst I maintained my pre-COVID pedagogy it felt like my teaching had taken a step backwards. Our EdTech adventures had been lost within the World Wide Web. Students quickly forgot about how their digital literacy had grown and we all returned back to the same old.
My sense of job satisfaction had been broken as I realised how limiting the walls of my physical classroom were. I was no longer the teacher that I felt I could be and the tools available to me felt lifeless. So I took a step that I never thought I would and I looked to apply my teaching skills to a position outside of classroom teaching. That is how I met bulb.
bulb Digital Portfolio is a popular EdTech platform used across the world from Nursery to University, and beyond. They have a growing presence and were recruiting people to join their team. Overnight I went from teaching Statutory Curriculums, to empowering educators and learners all around the world to use a platform where they could evidence their learning, reflect on it, and record it growing. Whilst I became familiar with several dozen EdTech tools during remote teaching, I have now become familiar with several hundred!
bulb scratched an itch that I had when it came to wanting to record and develop the use of EdTech to enhance teaching and learning. Students use bulb as a digital exercise that stays with them for life. bulb is a platform where EdTech apps are embedded right onto a page. For teachers, bulb is also a place where curriculums are housed and delivered. It is also so much more than that! In fact, bulb is the Kinder Bueno of the EdTech world (“I’ll be whatever you want me to be” is the infamous tagline of Bueno’s first UK TV Advert 20 years ago! I’m really showing my age there!!).
I never anticipated that something would turn my head away from classroom teaching, however the opportunity to make a greater impact on teaching and learning experiences in classrooms around the world is one that I could not let pass me by. It was a scary step to leave my classroom! It is exciting, however, to be at the forefront of EdTech. COVID changed a lot for us all, including accelerating education globally to move towards using Digital Platforms and EdTech as essential classroom tools.