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Best of both worlds: Estelle’s journey in a pioneering role

Author: e.ashman

June 2019

I’m not very good at talking about myself, and yet here I am having agreed to write a monthly blog post about my journey into a pioneering hybrid teaching role with Digital Schoolhouse. I can’t promise that this will be the best piece of writing ever but I can promise that it will be an open and honest account of my successes and challenges as I embark on this journey.

Before I begin to tell my story, I want to say a huge thank you to Gildredge House School, who have stepped into unchartered waters alongside me. Without their support this wouldn’t have been possible.

I guess I should start at the beginning, why did I apply for the role …

I love thinking outside of the box, I think it has always been my USP.

When I recall my own time at school, I was always the kid that did something a little different. My art project around ‘exploration’ led me to create a human body complete with removable organs as an homage to Leonardo Da Vinci’s extensive studies of human anatomy, an RE project on the Christmas story was told from the point of view of the donkey and while the rest of my class made cushions in DT, I made a Chinese style dress.

It has not always been quite so well received though - I felt creatively stifled during my teacher training year. My mentor had a very different view of what ICT lessons should look like and after one memorable feedback session where I was informed that one of my more imaginative ideas, which introduced a lesson on Health and Safety through Green Day’s  music video for Life without Warning, ‘had nothing to do with ICT’ I decided to keep my mouth shut and create ‘grey’, by the book resources. I passed my training year, but it was an uncomfortable process that left me questioning whether teaching was the right vocation for me. Thankfully, the school that took me on as a Newly Qualified Teacher had the opposite view, actively encouraging my creativity and under their instruction my ideas flourished.

In the subsequent years there have been many successes - one memorable one being a weeklong crime scene investigation complete with blood splatter analysis and maggots! There have also been a few failures; give some students too much choice and they don’t settle on anything! Throughout everything though, there has been creativity and the desire to engage students, initially in ICT and later in Computer Science, in a way that is relevant to them.

It was the former head of Gildredge House that first introduced Digital Schoolhouse to me, she had heard about the program and thought we should apply due to the innovative curriculum we had been developing. My first session with the other Lead teachers was amazing – it was wonderful to be able to work alongside like-minded colleagues, bounce ideas off each other and be told that no idea was too crazy.

When I received the email detailing the job role of Curriculum Content Developer, I knew I wanted to go for it. I also knew from the beginning that I had to have the school on board if the hybrid approach was going to work.

I went and spoke to my head the very same day and here I am.

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