The pressure for teachers to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when it comes to unit and lesson planning is one of the key factors behind overwork and burnout in the teaching profession, according to a report released by the Grattan Institute in 2021.
Consuming on average eight hours per week, the creative energy required to pull together units and learning resources from scratch is both labour-intensive and cognitively taxing.
As well as contributing to burnout, the task is one of the first to suffer its consequences, with creative acumen known to decline substantially when people are stressed.
Nick Morgan a former teacher who now works for Toddle Australia, knows this all too well from first-hand experience.
After eight years in teaching, the never-ending demand to ‘create, create, create’ got the better of Nick and he eventually turned his back on the profession.
Vowing to help others avoid the same fate, Nick later joined Toddle – a teaching and learning platform designed by teachers, for teachers – and helped to launch the world’s first AI-powered teaching assistant.
He says the response to the technology, released in August this year, has so far been overwhelming.
“We had one teacher describe it as “hair raising” which was a unique, but certainly well- received, compliment!” Nick said, ahead of the AI in Education Conference.
“And to be honest we haven’t really had any push-back, especially after people have seen the results. Most people describe it as ‘game-changing’ and are already getting excited about what else the technology will go on to do for them in future iterations.”
The reason for this reception is clear. In its current state, the technology can help teachers save up to eight hours per week, by designing bespoke lessons in the context of their unit plan.
Taking into account age group, student preferences and diverse needs, the technology produces a range of learning experiences for teachers to choose from.
“Teachers are always in control, but this is a powerful launchpad. Teachers can prompt for different learning activities and can tailor the output to suit any additional needs they need to differentiate for, such as dyslexia, ADHD, or ASD,” Nick said.
“Say you want to investigate the ANZAC story for one of your units. You fill out the unit planner with different subject standards, skills, and the general flow of the unit. It will then offer up sample suggestions for you to include as learning experiences.
“You still get to use your knowledge and creativity, but it gives you a contextualised springboard for lesson planning, which can often be the hardest step.”
The technology can also perform laborious tasks, like report writing. It can generate personalised comments for each student, based on their assessment and feedback history; and help teachers avoid writers’ block with a personalised writing assistant.
In addition, it can help teachers design marking rubrics.
“As any teacher will attest, creating rubrics can be a really tedious thing to do. There is a lot of monotony involved when adjusting the marking criteria for different attainment levels – what does ‘beginning’ look like, what does ‘developing’ look like, etc. Thankfully, the AI can do that for you, to a really high standard.”
Nick rejects suggestions that technologies like this could breed laziness among teachers, or lower the status of the profession.
“There were similar early discussions around calculators when they became more widespread in schools. People were concerned they would impede children’s mathematical skills when, in fact, children can do more complicated maths with a calculator.
“Our tool is no different. It will help teachers springboard into deeply contextualised and personalised learning plans, with much less friction. It can elevate their teaching practice and improve the learning experience of students.”
At present the technology has a teacher focus, but Nick says future iterations will be designed specifically for students.
Among the ideas his company is pursuing is an AI-powered personal tutor that will assist students with content knowledge and feedback on drafts for assessments.
“This is not yet part of our immediate road-map for release, but it is a logical next step for us, after we have released future iterations of our AI teaching assistant tool.”
Talking more about Toddle AI’s future plans to infuse AI into the education system, Nick will present at the upcoming AI in Education Conference, hosted by Informa Connect.
This year’s event will be held 30 October at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne.
Learn more and register your place here.
Nick heads Toddle Australia/New Zealand and is based in Melbourne. He joined the Toddle Team after teaching in China, remote NT and Melbourne.
Nick is an experienced facilitator of inquiry-based and experiential learning, both in classrooms and on camps and tours. He is passionate about promoting student well-being and witnessing the personal growth that students experience when they step outside their comfort zones.
Nick now helps teaching teams across the greater Australia/New Zealand region to make their teaching and learning dreams a reality with Toddle.
Loved by 60,000+ educators across 1800+ schools around the world, Toddle is an all-in-one teaching & learning platform for all kinds of schools.
Toddle empowers teaching teams to work together and better for curriculum planning, student portfolios, assessments, reports, family communication, and streamlined accreditation – all from one intuitive interface.