“One of my jobs as a teacher is to coach my students to learn for their future life. If I do a good job, my students won’t need me anymore.” – Nicole Speck, Switzerland
As a new teacher fresh from university, Nicole Speck had few expectations for how or why technology should be used by her students. So she wasn’t shy about trying a diverse array of technology to help her students become self-directed, engaged learners. In fact, when she first started teaching, Speck didn’t realize that technology in the classroom wasn’t the norm in Switzerland. But now, just five years into her teaching career, Speck’s classroom is seen as ground-breaking.
“I’m a digital native,” she tells us. “It’s a part of my life to use new media and technology every day. It’s my job to prepare my students for their future jobs and life. To work and create new products with technology is required in society — in work today and in the future. For this reason, it’s normal for me to be innovative and to use technology in the classroom.”
Speck, who shares her teaching experiences on her personal blog, uses many different IT tools and programs in her classroom. “My students are familiar with handling new media,” she says proudly. “My students use various media (e.g., PowerPoint, Movie Maker) confidently and effectively in presentations. They have learned through various means of communication how to quickly get information and how to communicate with the teacher.”
Speck attended the Global Forum in Barcelona, and participated in the Learn-a-Thon, where she and her team received the first runner-up award for the Poverty category. It was life-changing for her. “The Expert Educator program for me is to share new ideas, to create new ideas,” she says. “For me, it’s really visionary inspiring work because I learned a lot in the last six months.”
Today, Speck shares her inspiration, her biggest hope for the future of education, and the best advice she’s ever received. Enjoy!
What inspired you to become an educator?
There was not just one particular moment that inspired me to become a teacher – there were a lot of them. During the process to search for my future job, I always knew that I liked to work with a lot of different people. But there were some people who inspired me to become an educator. One of them is my godmother. She taught me to believe in my unique spirit, which every person has. Another was my biology teacher in high school. He taught us to think out of the box and to search for new and innovative solutions. He loved his job and it was fun to learn biology in his lessons. As a teacher, he is still my role model.
What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?
One of my jobs as a teacher is to coach my students to learn for their future life. If I do a good job, my students won’t need me anymore. I’m a proud teacher when my students leave school with the skills which they need for their future job and life.
For me, it was a real honor to be awarded – with my team – first runner-up at the Learn-a-thon about poverty (a learning activity with the Microsoft Educator Network) at the Microsoft Global Forum in Barcelona. After the forum, I told my students about this learning activity and they were excited to work together with the other students. Later I heard a discussion between two of my students. One of them asked the other: “Is it true, that you speak English at home? Could you speak English with us, when we aren’t in school? Because I will need to talk with the other students (in English, as part of the learning activity), so I really should learn this language.” It was an honor to receive the award. But after I heard these students, I was a really proud teacher.
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?
Our school is a BYOD school. The daily work with the laptops is a “normal” part of school for my students. Learning ICT skills is a side effect of their daily learning.
After creating the book presentation with Windows Movie Maker, some students asked me if it’s possible to create a movie for a geography presentation, too. The result of this second presentation was brilliant. They learned to use pictures, graphics, text and voice messages, and music at the same time to transport the main message in the presentation. In this learning activity the students could be creative and show their strengths and knowledge.
Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?
In Switzerland, a new curriculum is being developed at the moment. There are a lot of different discussions about it. One of them is how ICT should be taught in the future in our country. There are different minds about it. I hope they decide wisely and without fear about new future technology. The youth of today are the workers and policy makers of tomorrow.
In terms of education innovation, what are you most excited about for the future? What is your biggest hope for today’s students?
At the moment, I think there is an educational change in didactics and methodology. I’m most excited about the changing of the classroom. Because a learning classroom is often an underestimated educator and an interesting part of this digital revolution in education.
My biggest hope for today’s students is that they find their personal strengths and a lot of inspiring moments to develop new innovations.
About Nicole Speck
Secondary Teacher, Microsoft Expert Educator
Institut Rhaetia, Luzern
- Birthplace: Lucerne, Switzerland
- Educational background: Icompleted my studies with the title “Master of Arts PHZ in Secondary Education”. This includes the completion of Independent Studies (specialization degree) “ICT at school.” Since I finished my studies I’m working as a teacher at a girls’ day school.
- Website I check every day: Websites of the daily newspapers, YouTube and my social media profiles.
- Favorite childhood memory: Holidays with my family and weekends at my grandparents’ house.
- Favorite book: One Day by David Nicholls
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: OneDrive, Office 365, MovieMaker.
- What is the best advice you have ever received? My parents’ advice: “There is more than just one solution. The best is not the easiest one, so work for it and believe in yourself and your knowledge.”