Why become an Apple Teacher?
By Nick Acton, Apple Curriculum Specialist at JTRS
23 April, 2020 by
Why become an Apple Teacher?
Nick Acton Music

The Apple Teacher Learning Centre is essentially an online training platform that culminates in awarding its participants with the status of ‘Apple Teacher’. It focusses in on the main productivity, creativity and computing apps that Apple offer, exploring the nuances of each one as well as providing more basic skills training. Arranging modules like this enables individual teachers to learn more about apps that reflect their roles and skillsets. For example, if you’re more interested in creativity, you can engage with the GarageBand, iMovie and Clips modules before tackling the productivity apps. At the end of each module, you are gently tested on what you’ve learnt. These tests produce points, and with enough points, you win prizes. Namely, you win the accolade of becoming an Apple Teacher.         
Now! I know what you’re thinking! It sounds like it could take up some precious time! Time that you don’t have. Time that you are not going to dedicate to anything that won’t make an impact. So, the question is, will it make an impact? If one or two members of staff have a go at the courses, will it result in the iPads coming out of the cupboard? Why become Apple Teacher? In this blog, let's explore the various reasons why becoming an Apple Teacher is a good idea no matter what your school’s story is. 

If you’ve never used an iPad within an educational setting, then exploring Apple Teacher is a no brainer. The Apple Teacher Learning Centre can be used as a launch pad for absolute beginners.  The ‘New Skills for iPad’ module teaches the basics of using an iPad through the eyes of a teacher. For example, you won’t simply learn how to master using the camera on the iPad, the module will also explain how to quickly capture an image for pupil assessment. In the same way, Siri can be a powerful educational tool. The ‘New Skills for iPad’ module will teach a first time iPad user how to access Siri but also suggest different ways it can be incorporated into lessons. Overall, this scaffolded approach can help anyone go from the very basics right through to more complex iPad multitasking that can help an educator seamlessly operate the technology in front of a class. 

Like so many teachers, I have been using Apple products for a number of years to help enrich my teaching and the children’s learning. It’s taken a long time, but I do feel pretty confident wielding an iPad and using the apps on it. So, what’s in it for me? Why would I bother becoming an Apple Teacher? Well, the simple answer is that there is always more to learn. Relatively new apps like ‘Clips’ are dissected nicely on Apple Teacher. More complex apps like ‘Swift Playgrounds’ or ‘iMovie’ are pulled apart and explored in fine detail. In other words, there is something for everyone. There are modules that would stretch the skills of the most experienced Apple practitioner. However, I would say that it’s worth re-visiting the basics. There might be a little trick or tip that you’ve missed along the way. 

Most of the time, it is baby steps. An app will have changed a tiny bit and we're all generally happy with its update. Sometimes major developments will come along. Apple Classroom is a good example of this. It's a great app and it can completely revolutionise iPad use within the Classroom. Brilliant news! Where are the instructions? To a certain extent, the instructions are within Apple Teacher. You can keep up with the major and minor developments through the training modules on the Apple Teacher Learning Centre. Even if you don't bother to complete enough modules to become an Apple Teacher, you can use the platform to future proof yourself. As the iPads and the apps update, so will Apple Teacher.

Measuring the impact of new technology within a school can be tricky. Especially if you’re looking at progression before and after the use of technology within a creative subject. It’s unquantifiable. Also, it is wholly dependant on the teacher’s use of the iPads. How do you measure how confident and competent the cohort are then? Apple Teacher can provide one way of easily measuring Teacher Engagement. How many modules has each teacher completed? Which modules have individuals explored? How many have achieved the status of ‘Apple Teacher’? Utilising the platform in this way provides the opportunity for targets and expectations that can be a little bit wooly otherwise. When new teachers join the school, completing a number of modules will give them the foothold they may well need to match the skill sets of the other teachers. Overall, continuity of skills across an entire school is massively important. Apple Teacher can help in this arena. 

So many schools fall into the trap of not really fully understanding the implications of embedding Technology in to their classrooms before the iPads or Macs arrive. This is probably the biggest factor that can result in the technology finding its way to the cupboard. If you can be proactive and achieve Apple Teacher status before the wider bulk of technology has even been ordered, then you will hit the ground running in a big way! On top of that, for school’s that are questioning which technology to buy in to, Apple Teacher enables anyone to holistically explore the potential impacts of iPads or Macs in their school. And finally, there are some schools that have used iPads for years and are considering purchasing some Macs. What better way of exploring their capabilities than through the Apple Teacher Learning Centre? 

There are multiple reasons why becoming an Apple Teacher is a good idea, but it's all about ensuring that you get the most out of the technology. It's expensive, it's unfamiliar for some.
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But overall, it is a very good tool that can transform teaching and learning. And if none of the above convinces you, become Apple Teacher for yourself. It's an accolade and achievement at the end of the day. It shows a certain amount of dedication to learning new things and mastering new technology. It will look great on your CV and adds another professional edge to your email signature. If enough teachers in your school have a go at the modules, it will increase staff confidence and improve the overall use of the technology. It will allow you to keep tabs on that progression as well.

Nick Acton is an Apple Curriculum Specialist at JTRS as well as being a part-time Computing and Music teacher. Through the creation of bespoke training, Nick specialises in empowering educators so they can embed Apple technologies into their day-to-day classroom practice.