Arriving at E2
The idea of professional development is regularly offered within education however opportunities for high quality professional development seem scarce. I often find myself let down by catchy titles with more ‘buzz words’ than an Ofsted report. It is difficult to find something personal that doesn’t repeat a generic staff handbook.
As the year progressed the MIE-Expert program taught me the real skills I needed to use tools such as Office Mix, Sway, OneNote and Minecraft with the specific aim of improving students’ learning. The increased engagement and achievement of my students was positive enough, however Microsoft had other rewards up their sleeve…
Annually MIE-Experts who have contributed extensively to the program are selected to attend Microsoft’s E2 event held in their Seattle headquarters. I would never have thought that as someone who barely used technology that I would be lucky enough to receive this opportunity. Throughout the program I threw myself towards as many different teaching tools as I could get my hands on, desperate to make the most out of the free training on offer. This demonstrated not only my commitment and passion, but the key values of MIE-Experts, to encourage digital learning and innovation within education.
In early March I was contacted by Microsoft’s Schools Audience Manager, Mandeep Atwal. Her understanding of the teaching profession coupled with her personal approach meant that I gained an invaluable ally, who unbeknown to me was about to ignite my opportunities with a single phone call and an invitation to E2 Seattle! At the airport my stomach was a mixture of excitement and nerves. I had no idea how technically advanced the other MIEE’s would be, which led me to question how many would be there?
249! You heard me - Two hundred and forty nine educators from eighty seven different countries poured through Microsoft’s headquarters in Seattle to the sound of a live marching band. The atmosphere was exhilarating with teachers from every corner of the globe buzzing with excitement and all wonderingwhat the week would entail?
The event was opened by Anthony Salcito’s principles; ‘Expect more, do more, be more’. It was everything that I needed to hear and it set the tone for the days that followed. In my eyes E2 was a week for refreshing teachers, reminding them of their crucial responsibility to help children learn.
Ziauddin Yousafzai’s compelling speech on the human right to learn and Angela Maiers’s powerful statement that we should ‘be an agent of change’ left us in no doubt of the duty that we hold as educators. The keynotes throughout the week were insightful and heartfelt, the IT workshops constructive yet concise, and we frantically typed up ideas that we could use in our classrooms. It wasn’t about products and it wasn’t about competing, it was about inspiring creativity in learning. It was about networking and understanding that other cultures schooling techniques could benefit our own students. It was the Rolls-Royce staff training!
The Educator Challenge
Collaborating with teachers from all over the world to improve teaching and learning was a focus forced into action by the Educator Challenge. Despite the unbelievably high motivation of all the contestants, this trial was far from The Hunger Games with teams uniting and praising the ideas of others.
All MIEEs at the event were placed into teams and an apprentice-style challenge was set. The aim, using Microsoft tools to construct a scheme of work on the theme of ‘bravery’. Safe in the knowledge that none of us would be fired by Sir Alan Sugar my team constructed a presentation. I was awestruck! Groups produced a wide spectrum of schemes from: ‘rebuilding a broken world’ within Minecraft to researching what different communities around the world believed bravery to be using Skype.
The wide scale of ideas mirrored the varying responses you’d expect from the learners in your classroom… after all we were the students in this scenario! It was cross-curricular, it was collaborative, it was project-based learning. The best bit? All MIEEs can access and work from these resources.
A Fireside Chat to Remember
On the final day of E2, Microsoft delivered it’s final surprise to the passionate two hundred and forty nine MIEEs who filled its rooms; Satya Nadella. Nadella’s keynote thanked educators for attending the event and concluded by exploring the powerful role of technology within education.
I was later selected to participate in an exclusive ‘fireside chat’ with Satya Nadella with several other MIEEs from around the world. We were quickly escorted to a suite after his closing keynote and eagerly awaited his arrival. As someone who struggled to remain calm at Madame Tussauds I was completely star struck by Nadella. His warm, welcoming and humbling nature towards us prevented me from hyperventilating. During our meeting we reflected on how the week had gone and he expressed a genuine interest in our feedback. I left the conversation shaking like a leaf but ecstatic at the opportunity to have met with him.
For a more personal approach to CPD, the MIEE program caters to your every ambition. From understanding technology to developing presentational skills the course equips you with high quality, up-to-date training. The experience of being part of the MIE-Expert program and joining Microsoft’s network of educators has transformed my teaching and my life. I would strongly urge any educator out there to take five minutes out of their lesson planning and to have a look at what the Microsoft Educator Network can offer them. If like myself, you run for the hills at the sight of a new device, then you will have the most to gain from this program. Join us on our quest: bringing educators together, sharing innovative learning and revitalising a love of teaching.
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Emma Hicks is a teacher of English, Drama and Media at a secondary academy in Nottingham. MIEexpert 2015. Runner, skier and avid spinner.