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ReflectionsThe Communication principle

The Communication principle

An interesting experience as a PME1 is to be involved in the Oide (teacher in Irish) school meetings. Oide is the new support centre for teachers that unites the Centre for School Leadership (CSL), Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT), the National Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT) and the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST).

Fresh in the teaching profession, I am just becoming aware of the pull and resistive forces between teachers and the Department of Education, the later organizing school meetings through Oide’s missionaries to acclimate teachers through workshops to the new directives that are still shapeshifting the curriculum and assessment basis that started in 2015–2017.

Thursday’s meeting objectives were focused on ‘quality, inclusive, and relevant learning’, and one of the highlights was the communication principle that is common to elementary, primary, and post-primary curriculum but seems to lack completely between the teachers and the Oide meetings. These teacher formative workshops invariably end in a justifiable complaint riot from the teacher’s side and a justifiable defensive position from the Oide’s side, who has to account as the department’s reps for ‘lowering the standards in content’, for the contradiction between wellbeing hours and the rigid marking system that affect the student’s wellbeing, for the confusion between CBA and junior cycle exams, for the extra time spent on planning, etc. Although many teachers would agree that the majority of changes are in a good direction, such as formative feedback and methodologies to increase students’s critical thinking through reflection and self-regulation, they are disappointed by the ‘decrease’ in content standards and poor results, such as a lack of distinctions at the school level, which for the junior cycle is completely demotivating, demonstrating the rigidity in the marking system, but also a lack of transparency when it comes to ‘compared to what standards’ through real examples.

 

How do you reconcile these issues?

Communication, cooperation, and adjustment time.

When it comes to Art, Craft, and Design, the creative formative workshops offered by both Oide and the Professional Masters of Education to new teachers tend towards intersectionality of present trends and issues or a cross-disciplinary syllabus, moving the curriculum from process to praxis with projects such as STEAM, digital literacy, critical thinking strategies, climate change, sustainable development goals, social justice and activism, and global citizenship education based on differentiation, inclusion, dialogue, active participation, and group and peer activities. Basically, it is trying to move students from drawing the same apple towards a more differentiated critical approach, “being encouraged and equipped to know and respond to the concrete realities of their world” (Freire, P., Pedagogy of the Oppressed, p. 30). In doing so, the teacher needs to acquire those reflective, dialogical skills that can stimulate the student’s perception, willingness, and confidence to participate.

Possible ways:

1. Create a base of knowledge where teachers can access CBAs tied to and explained through real-life exam success cases with backed-up lesson plans, units of learning, SLAR meetings, and features of quality.

Many teachers were complaining that they asked for clarity in CBA marking and never received it. Recording real-life scenarios based on CBA requirements and let teachers access the data base would be very helpful.

2. In class training. Ideally, all teachers will have developed the reflective skill and time, but some teachers who are still relying their decisions on their experience and have classes from Monday to Friday will find it hard to adjust.

3. PMEs are the ambassadors of the new teaching trends, coupling PME with teachers might result in blossoming cooperations.

4. Written companions and guides for teaching in Post-Primary. Art teachers for example have no manual or guide to rely on in planning and assessment at the start of their journey. They are expected to observe and reflect, but sometimes good examples would help in building on good teaching and not getting outdated habits. There is no Irish publication such ah the Learning to Teach Art and Design in the Secondary School A companion to school experience, published by Routledge, a publishing company that has plenty of resources to help the beginner teacher in the English schooling system. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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