“There is just something very special about Apple and Apple events. The atmosphere is tangible. It buzzes in the air, and flows consistently out of every member of the Apple team – positivity, support, sharing, collaboration, creativity, innovation, vision – all of the things that give you hope in education! Their vision is so clear and underpins everything that they do. I am 100% obsessed with all things Apple and I’m sure I bore people on most days talking about it. Being able to talk Apple for 2 days is my idea of heaven…and being in a room for 2 days with such like-minded individuals is refreshing. It’s great to see so many people doing so many different and inspiring things. And it’s great to see these people trying to inspire others to get on board and do the same. Because after all, the one’s that are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.”

Becca Hart, Tech Fairy (tech-fairy.com)

 

This quote from the amazing Becca Hart sums up the Apple RTC Winter Conference perfectly for me. Last Thursday and Friday, representatives from Apple Regional Training Centres around the UK and Ireland came together at The Belfry for an amazing two days of sharing, collaboration and innovation… and what an amazing time it was!

I was very lucky to be part of the Apple RTC Advisory Group this year and worked alongside some of the most inspiring, forward thinking professionals I have ever met to plan and deliver workshops over the 2 days. I still feel, even after the conference has been and gone, that I’m going to be ‘found out’ and that I shouldn’t have been there as the conference from beginning to end was jam packed full of amazing speakers, workshop presenters, Apple Distinguished Educators and delegates who are all willing to share their own ideas. I had the best of both worlds at the conference this year; presenting workshops on the first day and then being a delegate on the second day.

So, Thursday morning came, I placed my ‘Presenter’ badge around my neck (like a kid at Christmas!) and headed down to the main conference room. I was absolutely petrified to present; ironically as it is what I do, day in and day out. But this time it was different. This was me. At the Apple Winter RTC Conference. Presenting. I tried to hold back the nerves and enjoy it as much as I could – I know how quickly those 2 days fly by!

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The amazing Steve Bunce was the keynote speaker and his session was brilliant – demonstrating how simply the Computing Curriculum can link to real life… with flow charts for popular songs and links to Strictly!

Images taken from here and here and if you want to, Do the Strictly here!

Then the time came to deliver my workshops… and I was petrified! With a few calming, reassuring words from Mark Anderson and Lisa and Louise from the Wow Zone, I launched myself into ‘Hooks into Books’ Augmented Reality session, sharing my love for AR books and how they can be used to enrich the curriculum and provide that hook for ‘reluctant’ learners.

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Everybody was so lovely, and got engaged and loved the books! I should’ve been on commission for Amazon – people were literally buying the books in the session. I was so relieved; not only were delegates engaged, they were actively looking and discussing ways that these books could be used meaningfully in the classroom and produced some great ideas on this Padlet.

Before I knew it, I had delivered 7 workshops and it was nearly the end of Day 1. We then assembled in the main conference space and met in our Regional RTC teams where we could then form relationships that will continue after the conference has ended. It was great to meet the trainers from Newcastle RTC, South Tyneside RTC and Sunderland RTC and I’m so excited to be working in collaboration with them in the New Year to deliver training and share ideas and resources!

It was a quick turn around for dinner and another chance to network with other RTCs and catch up with people who I met at the previous conferences. It was lovely to share ideas with Alice and Nick from Benton Park, the amazing Mark Anderson and the brilliant Douglas Creighton! It was so lovely to catch up, discuss new apps and have fun with ‘Heads Up’ – the app that seemed to spread across the room!

Day 2 again began with an early start and we all congregated in the main conference space for our second keynote of the conference. The inspirational Lord Chris Holmes. There is simply no other word to describe him.

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He began his Keynote by introducing his guide dog Lottie, after saying that our response was very ‘Microsoft!’ and then began to tell us his story from the day that he lost his sight at the age of 14 to winning 9 gold, 5 silver and 1 bronze Paralympic medals and being instrumental in the London 2012 bid for the Olympic and Paralympic games. My memories of the Paralympic games came flooding back and was bowled over with how amazing positive and down to earth Chris was. This quote has stayed with me from his keynote speech:

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The rest of the day was taken up by 2 ‘deep dives’ into the workshops delivered in the first day. My first workshop was delivered by the inspiring Lisa and Louise, 2 Apple Distinguished Educators from the Wow Zone RTC in Wythenshawe. I had previously followed the #ADE2015 hashtag from the ADE Institute earlier in the year and had read so many amazing things and ideas so the opportunity to work with these girls and find out a little more about ‘how pictures can tell a story?’ was too good to miss.

The session began with a beautiful video from the immensely talented Bill Frakes:

Then our session developed into telling our own story in 5 photographs. I worked in a group alongside Paul Ridgway, and we told the story of a golf club (fitting at the Belfry) and took these pictures to tell our story.

The girls were amazing and supported us to create videos using the images that we had taken. It was brilliant to work alongside ADEs like Lisa and Louise and spend time learning from them.

The afternoon again was an inspiring session, this time though, a STEM playground with the amazing Steve Bunce and Mark Anderson. It was a great chance to play with drones, Spheros, Dash and Dot (which I fell in love with!) and Makey Makeys. So many great ideas!

Then, before I knew it, the closing speech was over, and everyone began his or her journey home. I always get emotional leaving The Belfry; it’s like what Becca said in her blog “Being able to talk Apple for 2 days is my idea of heaven…and being in a room for 2 days with such like-minded individuals is refreshing. It’s great to see so many people doing so many different and inspiring things. And it’s great to see these people trying to inspire others to get on board and do the same.”

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But what’s great is that, in June, it happens all over again. In the meantime, I get to share all of the amazing, innovative things I have experienced with all of my schools. I am so incredibly lucky to be part of the RTC Community and feel privileged to be part of such an amazing Advisory Group and attend Apple RTC conferences just like this one.

So, until June and the next RTC conference, I’ll leave you with this which reminds me of the Apple RTC Community:

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