How I became an ADE

In July 2017, I was fortunate to be selected with a group of teachers around the world to be an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE). It was an honour to meet like-minded teachers for three days. We discussed technological hurdles that we face at our schools and collaborated on interdisciplinary projects. After attending last week’s ADE social, I decided to share my experience on my blog.

Before last summer, I had never heard of the ADE programme. My school’s IT department forwarded a newsletter from Apple one month before the deadline. The requirement for that year was straightforward, I had to create a three minute video explaining how Apple products have transformed my teaching.

Due to the tight schedule, I only had a day to collect most of the footage. Never do this. It was very stressful. I knew how awkward I’d be in front of the camera, so I chose to do a voiceover instead. I chose to showcase students’ work using Apple products in my video. The focus was student learning, not me.

My students really helped put the video together. I explained that I had a video application due for the ADE programme. They were very supportive and contributed film ideas. They had also used iMovie before, so I incorporated some exemplary work into the video.

I submitted the video and…waited.

Apple sent out the list of accepted teachers three months later. I was elated to be selected to be a part of a greater community.

Photo taken by Jeff Vardy.

Photo taken by Jeff Vardy.

The 2017 Apple Academy in the Asia–Pacific region was in Kyoto. Over three days, we attended talks and workshops describing how to improve our teaching with technology. Apple had just launched a new video making app called Clips, so our project was to create a Clips video by the end of the course. They featured my video in the closing keynote!

My video - "Math #REDESIGNED" - applying Design Thinking to the math curriculum on the bottom row!

My video - "Math #REDESIGNED" - applying Design Thinking to the math curriculum on the bottom row!

I left the course realizing that it isn’t enough to amazing things in the classroom. You need to share what you do with other teachers. I started using Twitter to connect with other teachers around the world and began attending local TeachMeets. I’ve incorporated things like 3D-printed atomic models and VR ecosystems in my lessons, and started Hour of Code with my students. All of these wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t met encouraging educators through the ADE programme.

Becoming an ADE is just one networking option. The most important thing is to find your own community of educators where you feel comfortable sharing ideas. Your students will appreciate it.

ADEs from Greater China in Kyoto, Japan.

ADEs from Greater China in Kyoto, Japan.