Meet Thomas Courtley, our inspiring Education Specialist for the UK - Part 2

Jan-Wolter Smit

Head of Education

1. What is your mission as an education specialist?

My mission is very straightforward: make sure all teachers have the opportunity to work at the best versions of themselves. I want to provide teachers in the UK with the best understanding of the LessonUp platform and toolkit, as well as of the company standing behind it. 

LessonUp is not like other companies. When you need help in using the platform and want to speak to someone, you actually get to speak to a helpful person. Many companies outsource their customer service. Not LessonUp. If a UK teacher or headteacher contacts LessonUp for information, I will do my best to visit them and explain how things work.

Teachers implement change with their students in mind: to inspire them to reach their full potential
Thomas Courtley
Education specialist
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2. What’s the most important insight that you would like to share with teachers around the world?

The more time you invest into your students as young people with potential, the more you get back from them. This is the most simple one-sentence insight that I can give on teaching. 

Do all teachers have the ability to do so? To an extent, yes. Some people have a more challenging job, or tend to spend more time on administrative tasks, and on getting the paperwork done. Yet ultimately, what matters is investing time in your students. All of them. At the end of the year you will see the results of it, and most students will be really thankful. This increases the chances of developing a positive relationship with them.

In the past, every time I became head of the department, that department ended up being the most popular optional subject chosen at that school. Why? Because I’d rather spend my time with my students than running meetings, or working on administrative tasks. It was as simple as that.

3. Based on your experience, why do teachers decide to work with LessonUp?

So far, all teachers I talked to decided to try out LessonUp. I think it’s because of the variety of tools they have at hand’s reach, and how straightforward it is to implement them. Once you have got your head around the toolkit, everything connects. First you can set up your classes and add your students, then use LessonUp as you prefer: to present, engage students, monitor their progress, give feedback, and much more.

Once teachers have started using it, they realise how multifaceted it is, and get excited about it. There are so many options you can choose from to stimulate immediate engagement. You can present ready-made lessons from the LessonUp lesson library, or edit them to fit your needs. If you prefer, you can create your own lessons by following a few simple steps.

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4. Just out of curiosity, what’s your favourite interactive feature in LessonUp? Why?

Although I see the potential of all the features in LessonUp, my favourites are the quiz question and the spinner. 

The quiz question offers immediate interactivity, which makes it very engaging for students. It is proven that they love it. Yet you also have all the data and results collected in the student reports, which is useful information for teachers to reflect upon. You can check where the class weakness is, or you can zoom into the results of individual students. It also gives you the opportunity to use it in different ways: as homework, for example, which saves you time for other classroom activities. 

The spinner is also a great feature, and an immediate way to give your students a sense of equality and fairness. Any student can be picked randomly by the spinner to answer a question. And if you implement 2 spinners, you can have a what/why/when/where questioned followed by a name-picker spinner. Students enjoy its playfulness and feel energised!

5. How do you envision the future of education?

Digitalisation is coming to schools. That’s the direction our society is rapidly moving towards, and eventually it will catch up with the education sector. 

Some schools are actually starting to make big strides in that direction. New roles are being created by governments and schools to encourage this change. As head of department, I used to be a supporter of introducing technology at school, and would like to see more of it in the future.

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