The long road to Apple Distinguished Educator

In 2013 I applied to become an Apple Distinguished Educator. After a lengthy wait I received the following e-mail.Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 19.24.31

I was gutted.

Firstly, I’m an only child and I HATE not getting my own way! Secondly – no feedback?? What kind of educational establishment doesn’t provide feedback – ridiculous! And thirdly – it makes no sense – why not? I’m doing some great things with iPads!

After the frustration had cleared I sat down and applied a bit of perspective to it all. The application process involves a written application and a 2 minute movie detailing how you’ve transformed learning in your establishment. As I unpicked what may have gone wrong I had to hold my hands up on a few failings.

1) I’d dedicated maybe 95% of my energies to the movie – which the more I watched, just looked like an advert for an iPad, not a visual representation of our school’s journey and my part in it.

2) My written application had been rushed and was overly wordy. It didn’t do me justice as I simply hadn’t put the time into it.

3) I hadn’t got a catalogue of digital resources such as iTunesU courses, iBooks, Blogs etc which would clearly give weight to my application.

In short – I wasn’t good enough. In fact, looking back I’m quite embarrassed at the thought that I should have applied. If you take a look at the class of 2013 they’re an absolutely incredible and inspiring bunch. They’re the Manchester United Squad 1998 of the ADE world! Mark Anderson,  Matt Pullen, Daniel Edwards, Gavin Smart – to name but a few; these guys are at the top of their game!

I’ve spent the last two years trying to get myself into a position where I merited the title ‘ADE’.

  • Obviously continuing to support the teachers, staff and parents through CPD – ‘Apple Bites’ – training sessions was key. Making sure as much as possible that our school became a beacon of outstanding practice.
  • I contacted the Apple Education Team for our area explaining that I’d tried to become an ADE, I’d been unsuccessful, but felt that we were doing some great things – would they like to come and have a look and see if we could support in anyway? Twelve months later we became an accredited Apple Regional Training Centre.
  • I’ve worked closely with our premium reseller. I regularly present at their ‘Learning with iPad’ events – telling the story of how we’ve turned our vision into a reality.
  • We offer consultancy and training both within our cluster and beyond to support other schools hoping to follow a similar route. Holding staff training sessions and TD days enabling other teachers to maximise the use of this technology.
  • Building up a portfolio of resources iTunesU, digital books, Blogs etc.
  • During this year’s application I focused more on the written application – spending more time trying to articulate my story in words. Once this was done I then made the movie. This seemed a more sensible approach.
  • Finally, I also contacted ADE’s that I’d worked with and respected such as Oscar Stringer and the legendary Neil Emery to get their advice.

So, when I applied in 2015, after an even LONGER wait, I woke up to the following email – Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 19.24.59

Over a 24 hour period I saw some pretty cynical and scathing tweets from disappointed applicants. Many of which were promptly removed! Part of me understood where they were coming from – BUT I couldn’t help feel that we wouldn’t encourage that sort of reaction from our children. My advice would be, if you believe what you’re doing is transformational, if you’re passionate about learning, if you want to be an ADE – then keep going!

Dan Oakes, Apple Distinguished Educator 2015 (May 2015)

3 thoughts on “The long road to Apple Distinguished Educator

  1. Loved reading this piece Dan! I was about to Submit my 2015 application when I realised I hadn’t put 100% into it, partly because I’d only just seen that applications were open. Rather than rushing and probably receiving a ‘thank you but no thank you’ email, I decided to gather evidence and apply in 2017. It would be great to ask you for advice on what I’m doing within school and also what we are doing as a school…

    • Hi Claire. Thank you for your kind words. More than happy to help out if I can. The ADE institute is an incredible opportunity – you won’t regret all the hard work when you get there! 🙂

  2. Thanks Dan, I would appreciate that – a lot! Interesting point you made about contacting the Apple RTC – would be good to speak to someone to come and look at what we have aged are doing at our school. 😊

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