Head of Library
The Hamilton and Alexandra College
An education veteran, Margaret Simkin has experienced many changes in her teaching career. She began as a Geography and History teacher many years ago, and her current work is managing the Information Services Department in an independent school. As the sole teacher-librarian, her life is busy, and as resources become more digital, so do her skills.
Simkin, a new #MIEExpert, completed a second Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) in 2015and attended E2 in Paris.
“I have been teaching for a long time and have always focused on building the strengths of individuals in my classes,” Simkin shares with us. “My work really began to flourish once I had access to the internet and realized that my students could collaborate with the world. The first time I saw Travis Smith present a session using OneNote, I was hooked. It brought all the elements together. When our school started to introduce 1:1 devices with touch screens and pens, I was also totally hooked. I appreciate that not all people like working in this way, but it’s increasingly the way of work in all types of fields. Teams will be the next big game changer.”
For Simkin, OneNote has been a game changer. “Each year it forms the basis of my teaching, and last year the group I had were totally invested in the process and happy to share everything,” she says. “This year, we are five weeks into the term, and I am still breaking them in! To that end, I have had them working collaboratively on whiteboards and sticky notes and collecting photographs, generally via their phones.” Sway has also been effective in working with her grade 5 students.
Reflecting on the challenges of teaching today, Simkin sees the busyness of the curriculum and the lack of time to fully meet the timetables that most schools use as particularly difficult. “Immersion, less topics and more depth would be a great way to get more of us (and I include teachers in this) learning more deeply and meaningfully,” she says. “Teacher attraction and retention, particularly in rural and regional schools, is another big issue – and older teachers need to be valued more.”
About Margaret Simkin
- Educational background: Secondary History and Geography teacher, now a qualified Teacher-Librarian working across our ELC-12 school.
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: OneNote
- What is the best advice you have ever received? If you do something do it well. (Thanks Dad!)
- Website I check every day: Twitter
- Favorite childhood memory: Going places holding Dad’s hand and hearing him explain interesting things that we came across – particularly shells on the beach.
- Favorite book: I love anything that I read – as long as there are words on the page, I’ll be perusing it.