Good Apples

We speak with three GEMS Dubai American Academy teachers who have been accepted to the Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) Class of 2019.

In 1994, Apple created the Apple Distinguished Educators Program (ADE) to recognise K-12 and higher education professionals who use Apple technology to transform teaching and learning. Now in its 25th year, the programme has grown into a global community of over 2,800 visionary leaders in education, helping their peers rethink what’s possible with iPad and Mac.

GEMS Dubai American Academy (DAA) has three team members taking part in the class of 2019 – Aarti Daswani, Instructional and Innovation Activator; Cheryl Haney, Instructional Design and Innovation Specialist; and Lauren Angarola, Innovation and Digital Coach.

They will attend a summit held over three days in July. Apple opens the application process once every two years and applicants are required to submit a two-minute video demonstrating how they used Apple learning technologies, how it has transformed their students’ learning and evidence of success. Last year Aarti and Lauren became Apple Professional Learning Specialists, meaning they can train teachers across Dubai to use the Apple curriculum.

“Apple has their own curriculum on coding which is called ‘Everyone can Code’ and this year they released a new programme called ‘Everyone can Create’. We got certified by Apple last year to train other teachers in using this curriculum or go in and design a bespoke workshop on how to use iPads in the classroom to enhance teaching and learning,” said Aarti.

Why become an ADE?
Aarti has worked with Apple Learning Technologies very closely for the past two years and can see the benefits in how it caters to different learning styles, helping teachers and students engage in learning content. “Being part of this [Apple] community is a privilege because it’s very limited in number and you get direct access to like-minded educators who share their learning processes,” she said.

Lauren had been following the ADE network on social media, particularly Twitter. “The types of educators that are ADEs are innovative, creative, and always pushing the envelope with teaching and learning. I knew that it was something I wanted to be a part of because of the amount of growing and learning that can happen just by being a part of the community,” said Lauren.

She added that participants remain a part of the programme for as long as they remain active. If they participate in the community, they can remain a part of it and take part in events and workshops that are held. Because the network is so large on Twitter, they hold global chats globally every week, and there plenty of hashtags to follow for regular sharing and learning.

For Cheryl, becoming an ADE meant an opportunity to continue learning and she is very comfortable with the Apple suite of products — she has an iPhone, an iWatch, an iPad, and a MacBook, so it seemed logical to continue to learn how to use the devices to their full capacity. “There’s always more that can be learned, but if I’m in this distinguished cohort I will be given opportunities to go to special training and become an expert, or more of an expert, and I can continue to share that information with teachers and students,” she said.

To any teacher thinking of becoming ADE qualified, all three ladies said that their favourite part of compiling their application videos was the opportunity to reflect on their practice over the last couple of years. They had to build an immense catalogue of photos and videos to document their teaching journey, which gave them the chance to see how much they have improved. It’s important for potential candidates to remember that applications open every two years, so they should start keeping a record of their teaching journey now. Teachers should also become active on social media, sharing their videos and photos, and Lauren strongly recommends joining Twitter and interacting with the existing ADEs in the network.

In an ADS school, students have one-to-one devices which they utilise at a higher academic level. Instead of passively going to a website or an app, students can use apps to create what they’re doing and lessons can be more interactive. Becoming an ADS is a two-year long process. In the first year the school must set up and put systems in place, and in the second year, evaluate those systems. DAA is now in the second year with the final touches going into the ADS iBook.

The iBook will be available in the Apple iBook library and showcases the school’s learning, shares all the research done, and how iPads have impacted the learning at DAA as well as the students’ achievements, and what teachers are doing in the classroom. In September Apple representatives will come from London and do a tour and observe if what has been put in the book is really happening. Cheryl said this process has had a positive impact on her teaching.

She was able to create lesson plans at home on her MacBook, and once at school, airdrop individual lessons to students on their iPads. During a lesson, she can be across the room and if she sees a student is ready for the next step, she can airdrop it to them immediately. She can airplay a lesson onto the board while walking around the room with her iPad to assist students, or airplay a student’s iPad onto the board so that they can share something they’re doing. “I no longer need a desk; I have no reason to sit down. I am always walking around the classroom, interacting with the students,” said Cheryl.

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