Dr Drew Smith
AI Lead and physics teacher at Dame Allan’s Schools, Newcastle
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As an in-school AI Lead and a teacher, here’s how I think Artificial Intelligence can support our profession.
Artificial Intelligence is a new horizon for a lot of schools, impacting staff and pupils alike, so it is something that we all have to learn and grow alongside. My role as AI Lead at Dame Allan’s Schools is brand new, and the first in a North East school. With that comes the flexibility to move forward and shape the role and the learning I can offer to help my fellow teachers and our pupils to get the best out of AI.
I think it is important for schools to have an AI Lead as AI is everywhere now, across every walk of life – just think about the phone in your pocket, which likely has some form of AI. It’s becoming ‘the norm’ to embed into new technology and it is important that as educators we are proactive and up-to-date with this tech.
I believe that the biggest opportunity offered by AI in schools is increased efficiency and timesaving for staff. As teachers we can use it to streamline the admin-heavy aspects of our job – such as lesson planning and report writing – freeing up more time for the more human, pastoral parts of the role. This means more spending time with pupils and helping them to learn and flourish, and less time battling with word documents!
At Dame Allan’s, we’ve started with Quillbot, a paraphrasing tool which helps with writing and grammar suggestions, trailing it when writing pupil reports. Recently, I’ve also led staff assemblies on crafting effective prompts for AI – which is a crucial new skill – as well as image generation via AI, which can help craft bespoke lesson resources.
Artificial Intelligence will of course never replace the human input into planning and report writing. AI still needs those prompts and information in order to generate effective solutions, but it will offer a really good support.
The biggest and most obvious threat is pupils using AI for homework, such as writing essays. It is, however, still quite easy to spot – I know that teachers can tell when a piece of work doesn’t ‘sound’ like a pupil’s voice. However, it is definitely something to keep an eye on, especially as AI continues to develop. The temptation is for pupils (and teachers) to potentially use AI as a ‘crutch’, which we want to avoid. It’s very much a support tool, rather than a replacement for the human aspects of education.
Going forward, I will be holding regular staff training sessions and supporting peers with their professional development with regards to AI. I want to help Dame Allan’s staff access as many AI tools as I can to help make their jobs a little more streamlined. AI education at Dame Allan’s will very much be embedded within staff training. It’s been really encouraging to see all staff willing to give AI a go!
Pupils will also be involved, I’ll be offering AI training with ideas that they can use throughout their learning. I’ll also be spreading the word about the latest in AI developments via pupil announcements, a new website, and in assemblies.
I’d encourage teachers to be creative when thinking about their use of AI. It can be such a powerful tool outside the classroom too, for example, assisting with co-curricular planning.
Outside of my teaching role, I run a Dungeons and Dragons Club at Dame Allan’s, and ChatGPT has also been useful in helping me to plan campaigns for this, as well as develop characters, which in turn makes the club more engaging for the pupils that attend!
Written by Dr Drew Smith, AI Lead and physics teacher at Dame Allan’s Schools, Newcastle