Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Teacher Voices: Neil Jarrett

Last year I celebrated 40 years in educational technology and tracked some of the history of this relatively new discipline. This year I'm celebrating 20 years as a teacher educator, all of it at Plymouth Institute of Education.

In a recent post entitled Teacher Voices I promised I would celebrate by interviewing some of my past student teachers to see where they are now and what their professional responses are to ten questions.

One of those former students - Neil Jarrett (@edtechneil) - has done rather well for himself. Neil graduated in 2009 and is now a teacher at an international school in Thailand. He has written three books and several articles for magazines such as the Times Educational Supplement. His teacher blog EdTech4Beginners is a must read for anyone interested in leveraging technology in schools. Neil has a real passion to share his learning not only with his students, but also with his professional community. Here at Plymouth Institute of Education, we are very proud of Neil's achievements!

1) What made you decide to become a teacher? What/who inspired you? What were your motivations?
I was inspired by my mother who was also a teacher. I used to help in her class a lot when I was growing up.

2) What is the best thing about being a teacher in a primary school? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
It is an exciting time to be a teacher with new initiatives and new technologies emerging all the time. It allows me to be creative and innovative on a daily basis.

3) What does it take to become an excellent teacher? What characteristics do the best teachers have?
Knowing how to pitch a lesson and thinking of exciting ways to teach it. I also think the best teachers are the ones who can explain new concepts in a clear, methodical way.

4) What do you consider your greatest achievement to date as an educator?
Being nominated for educational blog of the year.

5) How can we improve education? If you were the Secretary for Education, what would be your first priorities?
I would push for a more creative curriculum with emphasis put on inquiry and project based learning.

6) What are the most innovative uses of technology in education (that you have done yourself, or have seen)?
Collaborative work through tools such as Google Docs. The fact that children can work together, simultaneously (and even remotely) is fantastic.

7) What is your favourite story or memory of teaching children you would like to share?
Teaching internationally and being immersed in an amazing culture.

8) What advice would you give those who are just about to start out on the pathway to becoming a teacher?
Manage your workload well – focus on the important things that impact on learning.

9) What will schools of the future look like? What would you like to see happening in the next 10 years?
I predict that artificial intelligence will assist teachers with tracking progress and generating personalised next steps.

10) What are the most significant challenges facing education right now?
I think children are pushed to achieve too early. They all learn at different times and at different speeds – there is no set model we should follow for each child.

Photo courtesy of Neil Jarrett

Creative Commons License
Teacher voice 1: Neil Jarrett by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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