Berwick Primary’s Tim Bowman was playing basketball with friends in January last year when he ruptured his Achilles tendon.
Forced out of school for a term, the educator of 13 years set about bringing to fruition a brilliant education software idea to help teachers and schools across Australia, and indeed, the world, create classes.
“As a teacher for a long time, I thought there had to be a better way to make classes and so I’ve been looking around for something for years and never found anything.”
Working with wife Corinne and a developer, the three came up with Class Creator – software that simplifies the task of collating information to produce classes.
“As teachers what we’d do [in the past] is sit down and gather all of the kids’ information, so we’d get their behaviour needs, their academic, special education, ESL, which students should be separated, paired together, student-teacher relationship, parent requests – all sorts of things that go into the mix, and we'd sit down with all these bits of paper – where each one is a kid – and we'd shuffle them around,” Bowman says.
“... with our system you put your students in, your teachers in and the teachers get an email to say ‘fill in this survey about your current students’.
“We then collect all the data on the students from the teachers, and we use what we call ‘teacher logic’ as an algorithm and that creates the classes instantly.
“It uses all the teachers’ data and makes these balanced classes.
The three really see that as a starting point, so teachers can then go in and edit the classes, get feedback in real time and get the full demographics of the class, including social relationships and so on.
The software saves schools time, reduces mistakes and produces better classes.
“It leads to happier teachers and happier students in class – and parents,” Bowman says.
The software has proved a huge success, with more than 250 Australian schools embracing it so far, and schools in 11 countries around the world – including the UK and the US – signing on. By the end of this year, the software will have helped schools make 250,000 placements.
Another project of which the primary teacher is justifiably very proud, is his book 88 Ideas to Teach More Effectively: Forget being the favourite!
An easy, entertaining read filled with practical advice for all teachers, the book includes a foreword by Professor John Hattie, a major endorsement that has seen the project evolve from a free ebook on Amazon (where it was downloaded more than 3000 times), to being picked up and released by leading academic publisher, Routledge.
For more information on Class Creator, go to www.classcreator.io/au2016/
88 Ideas to Teach More Effectively: Forget being the favourite! is available to buy now on Amazon.