THAT’S the #ADEspirit!

To say that I learned something at the Apple Distinguished Educator Academy in Amsterdam last week would be a gross understatement. I learned SO MUCH there’s hardly space in one blog post for all my thoughts, hence my delay in putting them together, one week later.

There’s SO MUCH I can say about the experience of spending 4 days in the company of innovative and passionate educators that this could end up becoming a monster blog post that no one would read. On the one hand I definitely want to share the #ADEspirit and experiences, on the other hand, it is almost impossible to sum up what a shot in the arm attending ADE was. Here is my humble attempt to retrace my steps for the benefit of those who did not attend.


As with many an educational workshop, seminar or conference, the room was full of energised people, eager to share, learn and connect. We hailed from many countries, Russia, Spain Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey or France. Our Austrian delegation was made up of four educators from Vienna, and we quickly made connections with colleagues despite language barriers.

The Austrian delegation: Klaus-Jürgen, me, Laura and Samuel

The programme was chockfull of „golden nuggets” so to speak. From the get-go we were challenged to make our vision (our WHY) compelling, coherent and cohesive; or to ask ourselves what do WE really care about. One of my early faves: Being an ADE is „less about the rock star and more about the rock”. Indeed.

One of the most powerful ideas that really emerged for me was the six word story. I had read about this concept in an Apple Teacher publication but it was fantastic to be challenged to come up with my own. What a great idea for a lesson!

Another gem was the session on how to manage change in an organisation, using the analogy of 3 people seeing an island (a goal e.g. introducing tech) and have 3 different reactions. One is a speed swimmer – an early adopter, ready to go, the second is a shark spotter – not yet ready to take the plunge as he/she spots risks, and the third is pole hugger – unwilling to leave the safe place of the status quo. As we worked through this example collaboratively, we came to a deeper understanding as to WHY colleagues re/act in the ways that they do and we spoke about what we can do to respect their feelings. It was really valuable to examine how we can facilitate change in our local organisations and build credibility, so that we can move forward with all colleagues.

Three other things stood out for me. The first is the realisation that coding should be taken very seriously by all teachers. Emboldened by 2 workshops on coding, I deepened my resolve to learn to code and to especially promote coding for girls at my schools. Thanks to the hard work of the Apple Education team who has put together materials to support educators gain competence in this area!

New working group #GirlsCanCode

The second major thing for me was storytelling. I realised how important it is to not only focus on telling engaging and inspiring stories but also to help learners become storytellers themselves. By designing learning resources or by teaching learners how to “see“ and become visually literate (e.g. through photography), we can make a big and positive impact.

The third thing that will stay with me are the wonderful examples of teaching that were shared via showcases, teachmeets and casual conversations at the academy. I saw different people volunteer to tell their stories – how they overcame obstacles, how they learned new things, how they experimented and failed and how they grew. You essentially see firsthand how we all have expertise in one area or another, due to our experiences, circumstances and situations.

Me with Daniela, who does not let obstacles get in the way of innovative education!

I was privileged to tell my own story at a showcase: about how the Anne Frank iPad helped inspire one of my students to become a better learner. She became very keen on the Anne Frank story and has now visited Amsterdam (and the Anne Frank house) four times! By happy coincidence, we were in Amsterdam at the same time – I was there because of her, she was there because of me 🙂

If you are an educator who uses Apple technology regularly in your lessons, consider checking out the resources readily available for free online, consider becoming an Apple Teacher, consider applying for Apple Distinguished Educator status. You will find like-minded educators worldwide, willing to share, exchange ideas and collaborate on unique projects.

Even if you may think what you do is nothing special, consider the words cited by George Couros in the Innovator’s Mindset: Obvious to you. Amazing to Others. (video link)

To my fellow ADEs, thank you so much for sharing. It was amazing to me.

P.S. Here is one of many sketchnotes I did during the academy – a quick and dirty live-sketchnoting version.