Stress, Teaching and Life!

Teaching is a stressful job!………..Let’s get that statement out there from the beginning. Teaching is a stressful job.

Despite the media rhetoric of long holidays and short days spent drinking tea while sat at a desk, it is a strange and stressful job. It is not the only job I have had. I have had jobs that involved very tight deadlines, large amounts of money, international flights to deal with non-english speaking factories, international trade shows, magazines scrutinising every product I designed and at times very long working weeks but of all these things I have done teaching has proved to be the most unrelentingly stress ridden job I have had. Do not take this as an anti-teaching article, for I love teaching. I really do love it and I hope to do nothing else but it, but from bitter experience I have seen what stress can do to the career I love so much. In 2012 I had a nervous breakdown which changed my outlook on life and also on my profession and the stresses which it brings. Prior to the day it happened I had always had a mental image of a nervous or mental breakdown as being someone sat in a darkened room crying because life had become too much for them. I guess like many, wrongly, I had seen it as something that happens to weak people. I am not weak! If you knew me you would know that to be the case. In my life I have been very active, I have written motorcycles off in crashes, nearly drowned down a cave, been a thousand feet up a cliff with no ropes, been coughing blood after a fall climbing, had hypothermia, been hospitalised for dehydration, run cross country marathons and been involved in mountain rescues and of all the things that have happened to me, or I have inflicted upon myself rarely have any even slowed me down. I don’t mention those things to boast or big myself up and many of the people who know me will not know much of what I just mentioned but I say it here to illustrate the large void between how I thought breakdowns happened and who I was. In 2012 however I got first hand experience of a breakdown and it involved no crying and no sitting in a darkened room, it was far more physical than I could have imagined.

What happened next set me on a path, knocked me on my back and propelled me back up. It also led to research, awareness and some personal truths about teaching and stress. To read more and to see my research project and the end of the story read my new iBook for free now.

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Are iBooks the next “big” thing in education?

Generation X shared in the Post-War technological advances of the 1950’s, which saw the 16th century invention of blackboard and chalk left firmly in the past and replaced by slide projectors, overhead projectors and the humble whiteboard. In educational terms nothing much changed for the following 30 years until the 1980’s saw the birth of “Generation Powerpoint”. Microsoft Powerpoint and LCD video projectors were invented in the 80’s and other than a brief spell of “smartboard fever” nothing has really changed since. Well if history tells us anything it’s that our 30 years is up and it is time for a game changer, something that changes and improves the way we teach and the way our students learn. So what will this next generation be? I think I know the answer and its “Generation i”!

I know for some the mere mention of Apple will inspire groans and PC based rhetoric but I believe Apple have endowed us, as teachers, with an amazing opportunity and resource, that if used correctly could shape a generation of learners. I am talking about iPads and specifically iBooks. Over the years I have been looking for the perfect tool to present and teach with and that journey has eventually brought me to iBooks. What I want is a method of producing resources that are interactive, not only for the student but also for me, as the presenter, so I can alter and adapt my teaching to suit the audience. I do not want to be shackled by predetermined animations so Powerpoint has long since been left by the roadside. I travelled down the video route but again there is little interactivity, files sizes can become huge, they take time to create and on large networks don’t always work. I taught myself HTML, Java and CSS code to make websites. Now the interactivity was becoming possible but they took ages to create, can become very large with video and unless your very clever never quite fill the screen how you want when on projector. I wanted a program that looked cool on the screen, was easy to make, didn’t take forever to create, was quick, didn’t lag or go slow when showing video’s, could store all my SOW’s, lesson plans, videos, pictures, audio and most importantly was truly interactive and didn’t involve learning programming to achieve it. Finally a program that did all this appeared and it is the not so humble iBook.

iBooks are created in iBook Author on a Mac and then downloaded to iPads, where they can be used to present to a class or used as a student resource. Within these iBooks you can have video’s, pictures, powerpoints/keynotes, pdf’s, word/pages documents, website links, email links and best of all widgets which are interactive apps that work within the book. Even better all of this content is contained within one file stored on the iPad. This all means all your resources are literally at your fingertips and work seamlessly on the iPad, no searching around the network, no lag, just resources that work when you want them to. You can even include quizzes, drag and drop images that you can move around and 3D images that you can manipulate in real time in front of your class. The possibilities for interactive personalised resources are literally endless with iBooks.

If there isn’t a revolution, this coming generation will be the first since the war to be taught using the same technology as the last. I believe iBooks will be that revolution. The opportunities they offer are unsurpassed by any other program or piece of tech available, which is why many of the top Universities are using them as well as large numbers of educational publishers. It costs nothing to make one but offers so much to our students in return. For examples of what can easily be done using iBooks search “Creative Teaching with Interactive Books” on the iBook Store or click the link below and download a free example.

Creative Teaching with Interactive Books

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