Working with staff
When we embarked on this trial we knew that the pupils would embrace the opportunity to be given a free iPad, we were less sure how enthusiastic staff would be. However, after a slightly wary start staff became enthusiastic participants in the trial far exceeding the participation levels we had expected. If fact almost all staff eventually became involved including teachers who, by their own admission were not evangelical ICT enthusiasts. We firmly believe that a large part of the support came from the way we approached thing at the planning stage. The key elements in our discussions with staff were:
Consultation We consulted at every stage and took suggestions and worries seriously.
Use of iPads optional We made teaching with iPads optional partly because we didn’t want any unwilling volunteers and partly because contractually teachers could not be required to undertake additional work. No pressure was applied to persuade staff to join the trial.
Every eligible teacher gets an iPad While the original plan for the trial did not allow for issuing teaching staff with devices we felt that it was essential that staff have access to their own iPad. We therefore lobbied very hard for this and eventually we were able to secure iPad 1s for staff use. To be eligible for a device teachers needed to have a first year class and agree to incorporate tablets into their lessons. In time we have come to realise that ensuring staff had access to their own iPad was crucial to the trials success.
Teachers were issued iPads before pupils This allowed staff time to become comfortable with their use and develop lessons. It also helped us to ensure the school had complete Wi-Fi coverage.
Support and training offered We gave staff strong reassurance that they would be supported throughout the trial and they would not be left to sort out technical problems. Minimal training was given initially on the understanding that once they identified the areas where more support and training was needed that it would be forthcoming. However staff did not request further training and, when we investigated why not, we discovered that they did not feel they needed it as they felt that the iPads were genuinely intuitive. To this dat no member of staff has requested further training tough the offer to provide it is still open.
Rules and sanctions agreed and circulated These came partly from the listening process and allowed staff to feel secure that if this new technology caused disruption they would know how to respond. Throughout the trial the school SMT have taken a very robust stance to infringements of the acceptable use policy and this has given a clear message to pupils and staff. However our fears about tablets causing disruption in the class and the community have not materialised.