Back in April I was accepted as an Apple Distinguished Educator. Honestly it’s one of the things in my professional life that I am most proud of and excited by. To be a member of the community that I have looked up for years is such an privileged opportunity. Part of being a new ADE is attendance at Academy. Mine is in London and we have just finished day one of formal programme.
Coming to Academy I knew (from social media and my own butterflies!) that most of the new class were feeling a pretty much equal mix of nerves and excitement. When you look up to people and work for something for so long and then you get it you don’t quite know what to expect. There’s also the inevitable feelings of imposter syndrome; you know that everyone who is there is amazing because you’ve followed their work for so long.
It was great to hear yesterday someone say that being an ADE isn’t about being a rockstar, though people I have met here definitely are rockstars – albeit the humble, approachable kind. Being an ADE is about being a rock, a foundation that builds other people up, who have the firm foundations of pedagogy to build their practice on and can model that good practice for others. They are the Advisors, Author, Ambassadors and Advocates who support their schools and the schools around them. They have influence and impact at local, regional, national and international levels, not because they are rockstars, but because they are rocks, supporting others. Like a rock at the seashore helping support the whole ecosystem of a rock pool, just by being there and doing their thing.
I was nervous until I arrived, but after some kind words from Alumni, Advisory Board and Apple Staff and the warmest welcome possible, the nerves totally disapated. These people are like me. They get me. They are the person like me in their schools and I get to be a part of that community.
Staff rooms are funny places. Once I was subbing in a school for a two week block, back the start of my teaching career. It was a really large school and one that I knew extremely well, just not from a teaching perspective. This Staffroom was the most uncomfortable place to be. The staff, creatures of habit, had their set chairs and groups. Cups in the cupboard were for the use of specific people only and there seemed to be a pecking order for the hot water for tea.
I asked to sit and join a group of teachers to be told no, before being informed that the teacher I was covering usually sat over there. No one spoke to me. No one asked about my day, if I had settled in or offered help. It was awful. I’m pretty resilient and it didn’t put me off the school at all, but it did shape my practice for how I treat subs, new teachers and other people in general.
ADE Academy is not like that Staffroom.
I know now I could confidently sit beside anyone and start chatting- it’s actually encouraged. No question is too small or silly. We have been told repeatedly that we are supposed to be here, we don’t need to second guess ourselves or hold back. Let the story sharing begin, let’s ask deep questions of each other, let’s clarify, lets push each other on. All in the most supportive environment I think I’ve ever encountered among a group of strangers.
I’m doing a short showcase presentation on Friday. The number of people I’ve never met before who have said to me- “we’ll all be cheering you on” is huge. We want each other to succeed. We want to push on as community. We want to share stories and projects and impact. We want to share successes and failures, because failing forward is part of learning.
ADE Academy is not like that Staffroom. These people are Rockstars, what they do is brilliant and inspiring and encouraging, but they are also rocks.
I can’t wait to see what today holds.