St Joseph’s Bulli teacher Michelle Bunder named Apple Distinguished Educator

News | St Joseph’s Bulli teacher Michelle Bunder named Apple Distinguished Educator

Posted 29 August 2019 by Catholic Education in News

App smashing, augmented reality, iPad tips and tricks, and even creating new and innovative ways of learning using Apple apps and technology – it’s all at the fingertips of St Joseph’s Bulli teacher, Michelle Bunder, who has been accepted into the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Class of 2019!

Apple created the ADE Program in 1994 to acknowledge education pioneers who use Apple technology to transform teaching and learning in powerful ways. Now, 25 years later, the program has grown into a community of over 2,500 visionary leaders in education from over 45 countries, helping other educators rethink what’s possible with iPad and Mac to make learning deeply personal for every student.

Recognised for showing educational excellence and leadership with Apple technology both in and out of the classroom, Bunder is just one of 25 ADEs from Australia, and one of 534 worldwide, accepted into the prestigious program for 2019.

Bunder said she was “blown away” to be selected as an ADE, an active leader in helping raise the bar for what’s possible with Apple in education. “To say it is an honour is an understatement!” she said.

"I've always dabbled with iPads ever since they came out, but my game-changer was when I was placed on Year 5 with the 1:1 BYOD program we have at Joey’s. With my students by my side, I decided to dive in and go for it with technology, really pushing myself and the students to ensure that we were redefining learning in the classroom."

“The more I delved in with the students, the more I could see what was possible with technology and the more passionate I became. This led me to becoming a Seesaw Ambassador and Apple Teacher, then to where I am today as an Apple Distinguished Educator” — Michelle Bunder, St Joseph’s Bulli teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator

CEDoW Learning Technologies Officer, Ben Woods, commended Bunder on her significant efforts. “This is a huge achievement by Michelle, and a credit to her outstanding work and commitment to using the iPad as a tool for learning and learning technologies,” he said. 

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Read more about being an Apple Distinguished Educator in our extended interview with Michelle below…

Attending the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute

As part of her orientation to the ADE Program, Bunder recently attended the prestigious Apple Distinguished Educator Institute event on the Gold Coast. Held for the Asia Pacific ADE class of 2019, it featured attendees from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

“After attending the Institute, I feel even more excited and inspired for what is possible in the classroom with Apple technology.  It was incredible to meet like-minded people from around the world and share how we all make a difference to our students’ learning using Apple technology” — Michelle Bunder, St Joseph’s Bulli teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator

“Through the Institute experience, I've also gained life-long friends and connections – everyone was so incredibly welcoming and willing to share all their knowledge. Meeting and connecting with many of the Apple team behind some of the biggest apps available on iPad – flown in from Apple Park, Cupertino – was also a high point,” Bunder said. 

“It was what the staff behind the apps shared with us, and the tips people had for iPads and apps that we all picked up from each other along the way, that was the greatest learning.

“One of the tricks I learned was deleting a table from Numbers to have an infinite whiteboard – simple, but genius! The workshop on augmented reality and app smashing [using multiple apps creatively in conjunction with each other to complete a new, innovative project] with Keynote was also fantastic!”

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There was no shortage of tech fun at the event – Bunder said flying drones around the resort and capturing footage from 100m above ground was an “awesome” highlight, as were the daily challenges set by the ADE Regional Program Managers.

“One task we were set was bringing an everyday object to life. I brought my beanie to life from my morning walk through the grounds of the Institute [see below]. But the best part was chatting with fellow ADEs about the challenge throughout the day and what we could do with the challenge in the classroom. People have so many wonderful and valuable ideas!”


Being an Apple Distinguished Educator

Apple describes their ADEs as "trusted advisors" – experts on the realities of integrating technology into learning environments, and working closely with Apple to foster innovation in education. They are passionate advocates, exploring and promoting powerful, fresh ideas for improving teaching and learning; developing creative projects, videos and lessons; and embracing opportunities to help learners everywhere. 

“To me, being an ADE comes with a responsibility to be innovative, and an advocate for our students and what's possible by bringing new technology to teaching and learning. I'm really looking forward to seeing what's ahead” — Michelle Bunder, St Joseph’s Bulli teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator

Being an ADE means access to a global network of Apple innovators and educators, and a range of professional learning support and Apple learning opportunities: from better understanding the power of devices to support personalised learning, to frameworks for school management and best practice teaching and learning. 

"I'm excited about the ADE projects that I'm working on, and having the ability to now collaborate with colleagues from around the globe so ideas can be turned into meaningful learning experiences for our students," Bunder said.

Bunder is glad the St Joseph’s Bulli school community will also get to enjoy the benefits of having an ADE as a staff member, author and advocate for innovative education for students utilising technology. “I look forward to sharing as much as I can with staff to even further enhance learning and teaching with technology for students at our school.”

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Thoughts on Apple Technology in the Classroom

“Apple technology in the classroom for me is not a substitute for an exercise book; it is a tool for learning. I use Apple technology so that my classroom becomes a hub of learning, with students sharing their tips and tricks and their knowledge with their classmates. I also use the iPad's incredibly vast built-in accessibility functions to best assist students with their learning needs,” Bunder said.

“The thing that excites me the most is seeing the students achieving outcomes and reaching goals with technology, which is incredible – and then sharing that learning with other teachers so they too are inspired by what is possible” — Michelle Bunder, St Joseph’s Bulli teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator 

“Tapping into the student's interests is also paramount. For example, I’ve had students who really love Minecraft, others who were right into Stop Motion filming… so I always keep that in mind when looking at outcomes and programming: how can I use their favourite apps to deepen learning and understanding? It just astounded me what my students were achieving this way; it was worth every second!”

The Bulli teacher said her interests also lie in the pedagogy behind technology – the ‘why we do what we do’ in teaching. “Technology shouldn’t be seen as another 'thing' we do in the classroom, but rather, it should underpin and enhance the already amazing learning and teaching that is happening in our Diocese. I'm really passionate about that and that is one of my main drives when speaking with teachers.

“I feel the potential for iPad technology and students’ learning is endless – and it's only getting bigger! I believe it is essential then, that we are preparing our students for a future where most of the jobs they will hold haven’t even been invented yet. Our students need to be ready,” she said.

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Advice for Teachers Interested in Using Technology

Bunder’s advice to other teachers interested in engaging more with technology in the classroom is to “start small – make one small change and build from there”. 

“Talk to other teachers in your school or wider community to make connections and hear stories. I’m more than happy to chat and share my journey! The IT team at the Catholic Education Office are amazing too and always willing to give you a hand. I’d also suggest completing the Apple Teacher course, which you can complete in your own time at home to earn badges," she said.

“Finally, I’d check out the free Everyone Can Create curriculum developed by Apple, which has teacher guides for projects in drawing, music, video and photos. Each guide has comprehensive lessons and projects that build both your students’ and your own skills progressively. There’s over 300 lesson ideas you could try tomorrow!”

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A thank you from michelle…

Bunder said she is grateful to many people who have helped her embrace the opportunity to be an ADE. “I’d like to give a huge thank you to the staff and community of St Joseph’s Bulli, including Principal, Jen Charadia, and Assistant-Principal, Kaylene Costello-Duffin.

"I’d also like to thank the team at the Catholic Education Office for their support on my technology and ADE journey – the IT team, David Emery and Natasha O'Donoghue for their endless support, particularly in completing the ethics paperwork for Apple!"

“It is such an honour to be an Apple Distinguished Educator and I'm excited to share my experiences and help others continue to enhance the amazing learning and teaching happening in our Diocese” — Michelle Bunder, St Joseph’s Bulli teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator

Find out more about the Apple Education, including the Apple Distinguished Educator program, at

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