RCC Erasmus KA1+
Ensuring Progression: Developing Sustainable Pedagogical Practices for a Modern Student Cohort through Intercultural Education, Prevention of Early School Leaving and Enhancement of Literacy and Numeracy Skills.
This project emerged following the identification of several priorities to ensure the continued progression of our school. Having established three key linked areas that were most essential it was decided that there was a need for staff to up-skill and to experience new systems, especially within an EU context.
The three areas in need of improving were:
1. Cultural Diversity: Developing new pedagogies and competencies for intercultural education in the context of our school.
2. Early School Leaving: Participants in this project will observe how successful programmes work across Europe. They will bring this knowledge to our context on return in order to enhance existing policies and methods to increase retention rates.
3. Pedagogies to Enhance Literacy and Numeracy: Participants on this project will be class teachers, management and policy makers and this mobility will give them the framework to implement strategies in relation to literacy and numeracy that are proven to work in the EU context.
Once the needs were identified we compiled a number of critical objectives within each section of our project.
- To enhance student engagement by tapping into our culturally diverse community.
- To create culturally rich educational environments.
- To develop pedagogies centred around intercultural education.
Early School Leaving:
- To increase retention rates of students in our school and to increase progression rates of our student cohort to third level education.
- To develop key core skills of students so they become more integrated into the school community.
- To increase self-esteem levels among potential early school leavers.
Pedagogies to Increase Literacy and Numeracy Skills:
- To develop a cross curricular approaches to teaching literacy for the benefit of all learners.
- To adapt a holistic approach to teaching numeracy in our school.
- To ensure that literacy and numeracy policies are embedded in our lessons.
- To promote pedagogies that directly influence literacy and numeracy skills.
Profile of Participants:
It is expected that 24 participants will be selected from management, department heads and teaching staff. There are language teachers, humanities, STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) teachers, and practical subject teachers.
Methodology/Description of the Project:
The project uses staff mobility to provide continuous professional development through training courses in 4 European countries; Finland, Iceland, Malta and Italy. These courses were selected to directly reflect the key needs of our school identified above. We have chosen to complete two courses concerning each of the three areas; cultural diversity, early school leaving and enhancement of literacy and numeracy skills. The courses will provide the participants with the competencies and experience to return to our school and Education and Training Board with new approaches from an EU context that are proven to be successful. Participants will be expected to impart the knowledge on return through focus groups, peer observation and policy framework so that the new approaches and methodologies are used by the entire staff of our school.
Impact of Project:
In order to assess the level and extent to which objectives have been achieved analysis will be conducted by the school management and the Erasmus+ team. Each participant will self-evaluate the mobility as a whole to see whether it has obtained its objectives. The target groups will be monitored closely (e.g. literacy and numeracy test results completed as part of our school DEIS plan will be compared with test results from previous years to ascertain if there is any noticeable positive difference). The impact of the project will be measurable to ensure objectives are achieved.
Diverse society – Diverse classrooms
How student diversity benefits social diversity with a special focus on cooperative learning within multicultural groups.
Teachers: Mr. F.Timmons, Ms. M Connelly Ms. M.Carroll, and Mr. C.Devaney
Location: Borgarnes, Iceland
Date: 22nd-28th October 2017
Diverse society – Diverse classrooms
Objectives of course:
- Become open-minded, critical and active citizens
- Learn to live and work with others and to manage conflicts when they arise
- Become the centre of learning and ensure each participants different abilities and competences are strengthened and appreciated
- Learn how to create an inclusive and creative learning environment
- Learn concrete, structured and creative cooperative learning methods that are applicable to each subject
- Learn new and diverse assessment methods and criteria
What is cooperative learning and why do it?
We learned that ‘Cooperative Learning’ is a method used quite a lot in classrooms in Iceland. Every classroom in almost every country of the world has a diverse range of students in it. There are students for whom the language of instruction is not their native language, there are students with special educational needs, there are students who come from many different cultures and there are a whole range of personality types also.
Cooperative learning is a system of learning whereby the students are at the centre of the learning. It is a system of learning that enhances key life skills and competencies that students can bring with them as they leave school. It also allows for the curriculum to be learned in a way that allows for them to be more active and for the teacher to become more of an observer of the learning. We, as teachers must realise that students are part of a society that will need many different skills and competences in order to enter adulthood and to best adapt to an ever-changing world. If one was to look at any job application in any part of the world one would find the same skills are always required (e.g. critical thinking skills, listening skills, communication skills, problem solving skills, empathetic skills etc). If we reflect upon our classroom, we often will not see any of these skills being developed. We must then ask ourselves, what are we preparing our students for?
Who benefits from Cooperative Learning?
During the first two days of our course we observed situations which clearly demonstrated how cooperative learning ensures the students must take charge of the lesson. Often teachers will ensure this is done in very structured groups (e.g. the teacher will divide the class in groups of 4). It is essential the teacher takes great care on selecting the groups for each task in such a way that they are mixed ability and that they all have additional assigned roles to the overall outcome of the task. This is essential or cooperative learning will not take place. We have all seen groupwork that does not work (e.g. the dominant student will take over and complete the task him/herself, the student with a specific SEN will not be given equal opportunity or the student for whom English is a second language will not understand the task and become disengaged). Cooperative learning is a method that caters for all of these individuals. We must not just give a group a task and let them complete it independently. We must carefully issue instructions, assign additional roles, ensure there is time for everyone to speak and design the task such that the other students on the team must listen or they cannot complete the task. Students must be creative.
New classroom practices – the role of the teacher
Cooperative learning cannot take place immediately without previously establishing new norms and new rules. Firstly, there must be trust. The most difficult thing for teachers is often the idea of ‘letting go’ of the classroom. We must step back and allow for noise and active learning to take place. We must move from the traditional lecture type scenario to a student led situation. We all tend to agree on the skills we would wish our students to learn, however, we do not always facilitate a classroom environment that allows for these skills to be developed. Cooperative learning most definitely facilitates all of these competences to flourish in every individual.
Group work is not equal to Cooperative Learning
On our first training day in Borgarnes, we observed the differences between group work and cooperative learning in an Icelandic setting. Often teachers like to try to use groupwork and hope it is effective. In contrast, we learned cooperative learning is always group work but group work is not always cooperative. We must ask ourselves why the students or the teacher did not like it to make us not try it again. Groupwork often is given without clearly identifying a structure and roles. Individuals are not accountable for their work. There is not equal participation (one pupil may take over and others may be left out for various reasons). In this way groupwork can actually end up being a microcosm of the injustices of society rather than being an equal process where every team member is valued. To move from this situation which we may be familiar with to a space where real learning takes place takes time. We must have very structured groups, designed according to personality and skills. All members of the group are responsible for everyone in the group understanding the topic or task. Everyone has one additional special role within the group (e.g. Facilitator/Organiser, Reporter, Material Manager, Planner/Timekeeper, Harmonizer). The tasks must require interaction, cooperation and a range of skills and abilities. Nobody can be finished until everyone has finished. We observed this in action and it was amazing to see a mixed ability class so engaged. This is something that works, we just need to change our mindset.
Is this practical for teachers in an Irish setting with such dense curricula to cover?
As a group we reflected, thus far, on what we have learned and we feel there are huge benefits to using this methodology. However, the main concerns appear to centre around the nature of our school system. We have a very pressurised exam centred system with dense curricula which is in contrast to a lot of Scandinavian countries, including Iceland, where there is a much broader scope for learners and less emphasis on exams at an early stage. Cooperative learning allows for knowledge to be gained while also enhancing the skills and competences students need for life. In Ireland, we all agreed, that there is often a lot of knowledge gained for exams but we do not teach the students the skills required for the adult or the professional world. This is where cooperative learning comes in.
There were many different nationalities and education systems represented on this course so it was particularly interesting to see how assessment is used as a tool for progress in other countries. One noticeable aspect of the Irish system that is not a part of any other system represented on the course was the idea of the standardised state exam. This is unheard of in any of the other countries and so this was the starting point for a lot of reflection that took place on forms of assessment.
Types of assessment we use
There are two main forms of assessment we can use in a school setting; summative and formative. Summative assessment tasks are generally a traditional ‘test’ which is usual written and completed after a unit of work is finished. Standardised tests such as our Junior Cert or Leaving Cert are also summative assessments. Formative assessments focus more on ongoing monitoring of progress and achievement with feedback. There are many ways to do this and most can take place in the classroom on a daily basis. Examples include; group work assessment, performance/creative assessment, peer assessment, self-assessment and portfolio/project assessment. Formative is also used unbeknownst to students during the co-operative learning process.
Students must have a chance to improve and monitoring must be regular. Otherwise students will not know where they stand until the end of the process, which leads to frustration. We should cater for all students and so we should consider our forms of assessment with great care. Our traditional written exams, which are summative assessments, tend not to examine the skills we try to learn in the classroom. They are usually a test of isolated facts which can be memorised. It then requires written skills to put it together coherently in a given timeframe. This type of exam will only appeal to a minority of students and because students are not using different skills, the knowledge is not retained long term. We discovered a study whereby 80% of students failed the exact same written exam which was given one week after their real written exam was completed. This shows that retention of knowledge does not happen when crammed for a written exam. In Ireland, we must practice a lot for these types of written exams because our school system requires us to sit summative state exams.
We must, at the very least, mix our forms of assessment. If we use some formative assessment such as peer assessment, for example, students get the chance to take responsibility, which increases motivation and engagement. We can then combine teacher and peer feedback for each individual. Before good formative assessment can take place there must be clear criteria. Often the creation of rubrics is a good idea so that students have clarity as to how they can improve. Once they have the rubric they can see progression and have a greater chance of success. It is advised to link assessment to the real world. This is where, sometimes, our written exams fail us. We could use performance or creative assessment strategies so that it is an ‘authentic’ experience. Learners can produce, design, experiment, create a game, create a television interview talk show, make a film, make a map, use music etc. This is far more meaningful than a written test as students can see its purpose and are often learning the knowledge and facts without even realising it. It also is more inclusive for situations where there is a diverse classroom as it is more inclusive.
Our thoughts after trying out formative assessment after a co-operative learning task
We carried out a number of tasks within a group. We all were assigned roles just as students would be in a class, if attempting a cooperative learning task. This was found to be very useful as we all participated within the group and roles were assigned; time manager, harmonizer, organiser and reporter, in addition to their other duties which worked very well. After we discussed the topic and answered all the questions, we then had to put all the information together in a performance or creative type assessment. Some groups decided to do some acting, some did a live TV show where the two sides of the argument were presented, some made posters and some made a short film. This was the assessment part of the lesson and we all felt that the information was retained a lot more than if we were initially given a sheet of paper and asked to learn the facts and then subsequently handed a written test. It was an eye-opening experience. We do realise that this type of learning cannot be brought about immediately, there must be new classroom norms set, the correct climate must be there for learning like this to exist and we must take great care to ensure students have clear roles, clear instructions and clear criteria for success before it begins.
Ms Connelly in her role as group organiser in a cooperative learning task
Mr. Timmons in his role as reporter for a cooperative learning task
Mr. Devaney working on ‘6 Thinking Hats’ cooperative learning task
Ms. Carroll in her role as Organiser for a cooperative learning task with fellow Erasmus KA1+ participants
Group Participants from Diverse Society – Diverse Classroom Structured Training Course
(13th- 19th October 2019)
Structured Training Course 2
Facing Diversity: Intercultural Classroom Management
Teachers: Ms. O.Farrell, Ms. S.Joyce, Ms. S.McNamara and Ms. D.Barrett
Location: Florence, Italy
Dates: 2nd - 7th April 2018
Objectives of course:
- Gain a broader awareness about different learning cultures
- Increase awareness of intercultural communication
- Share best practise on innovative methods
- Learn to convert diversity from burden to opportunity
During the Easter break four teachers successfully completed an Erasmus KA1+ course entitled ‘Facing Diversity: Intercultural Classroom Management’ in Florence, Italy, funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the EU. The course began by the teachers involved talking about themselves, telling their story by means of a seven word biography. This is a methodology that would most certainly be useful in creating a classroom that is culturally inclusive. As a group, they talked about what ‘culture’ meant to each of them personally and about the biggest challenges relating to diversity that they face as teachers. Teachers reported that it was interesting to examine the cultural rules that we live by and how these rules vary between countries. They also compared cultures and differentiated between individualistic and collectivistic cultures, coming to the conclusion that Irish culture is somewhere in between the two. At the end of the session, the four teachers discussed tactics that they could use to foster a cultural awareness in our classrooms in Roscommon Community College.
The course continued with all participants giving presentations about their schools. Participants discussed how they face diversity in their classrooms. As many European countries were represented by participants this gave a broad spectrum of ideas from across the EU to participants. Teachers found it particularly interesting to hear about challenges faced by schools where over 80% of the student population are non-nationals. They examined the skills required for integration and had an in-depth discussion on what teachers can do to help students integrate into their school and classroom more effectively. Some of the methodologies investigated, through case studies, included ways of expressing interest in varying ethnic backgrounds, redirecting the role of teacher from instructor to facilitator and creating an inclusive curriculum that remains respectful of differences.
Over the course of the week teachers looked at overcoming language barriers by building relationships with students through the use of methodologies based on play, movement and art. Conveying meaning through methods other than language is very important in intercultural classroom management. They examined the use of a “flipped classroom” as a means of integration and supporting students who do not have English as a mother tongue. All four teachers felt that this is something they will definitely try in their own classrooms.
The final session of the week developed discussions on how to communicate effectively. Teachers looked at how to be empathetic towards students. They reflected on situations where they felt upset by something a person said or did to them and examined their feelings at that moment and their needs. Teachers also examined the feelings and needs of the person who made them feel that way. They discussed looking at a restorative approach to communicating with our students and observed different methodologies adapted by teachers to engage in non - violent communication. The course concluded by teachers reflecting on different case studies relating to refugees moving to another country. Teachers had to consider what feelings and needs those individuals had and discussed strategies that they could use to welcome these students into their classroom. Participants then discussed these feelings and needs within smaller groups in order to help them develop their understanding of others situations, from a European context.
The teachers on this course will demonstrate methods explored to RCC management and teaching staff and will adopt a whole school approach to creating a more intercultural and diverse school over the coming months.
Recipients of the certificate of completion from Europass Teacher Academy for ‘Facing Diversity- Intercultural Classroom Management’ course
Ms. Farrell presenting to fellow Erasmus KA1+ participants
Ms. Joyce hard at work on Erasmus KA1+ course in Florence, Italy
Structured Training Course 3
‘Innovative Approaches to Teaching’
Teachers: Ms. G. Martin, Ms. D Staunton, Mr. C Mc Hugh and Ms. M. Concar
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Dates: 30th April - 4th May 2018
Objectives of course:
- Enhance skills to use various innovative teaching methods and techniques that are learner-centred, encourage solving of meaningful real-world tasks and develop transversal competencies.
- Boost skills in using open and digital resources, support development of digital skills and media literacy, increase capacity to trigger changes in terms of modernization using ICT.
- Generate ready‐to‐use materials and ideas to support school or organisational development in the field of innovative education with regards to interdisciplinary and holistic approach.
- Gain techniques for working with heterogeneous classrooms, support inclusion of various minorities into mainstream education based on democratic values, promote active participation in society.
- Develop relevant, high-level skills such as creativity, critical thinking, metacognition and other key competences through innovative teaching methods, enhance good quality of mainstream education.
- Learn to motivate, guide and effectively assess to reduce low achievement in basic competences, promote peer exchange and active participation within the education.
- Revise and develop personal and professional competences, build confidence in promoting innovative and active pedagogies that are responsive to social and cultural diversity.
- Meet colleagues of different nationalities within the EU, engage in cross-cultural learning experience, exchange ideas and build a network for future international cooperation.
- Gain broader understanding of practices, policies and systems of education of different countries, cultivate mutual respect, intercultural awareness and embed common educational and training values.
- Enrich communication skills, improve foreign language competencies, broaden professional vocabulary and promote EU’s broad linguistic diversity.
Four participants from Roscommon Community College travelled to Helsinki, Finland to complete an Erasmus KA1+ course entitled ‘Innovative Approaches to Teaching’, which was funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the EU. Teachers from seven different countries across Europe attended the training course which led to a multicultural exchange of teaching methods and ideas.
The theme of the course was 21st century classrooms with the emphasis on “Innovative Approaches to Teaching”. The training covered a practical guide to modern teaching methodologies, which help improve quality and effectivity of educational processes in any classroom. The modules covered encourage creativity, project organisation, integration of minority pupils and the use of ICT as a tool for developing critical thinking skills.
Over the few days of the course, the emphasis was “on learning by doing” and this was achieved through various collaborative and reflective activities. The 10 modules covered over the few days were; Theoretical module – 21st Century Skills, Critical and creative thinking, how can it be developed?, Inquiry based learning, Task based learning, Designing, implementing and assessing a project, Using ICT tools for assessment, Dealing with multicultural classes, Adapting teaching materials to suit the needs of differentiated classes, Metacognition, teaching students to learn, ICT as a tool for development of creativity and critical thinking and finally Formative versus summative assessment; rubrics, checklists, peer and self-assessment.
The final two days of this Erasmus course were conducted at the Vantaa Vocational College in Helsinki. This was a very impressive institution with many varied courses available to the students.
All teachers found that the course helped them to enhance their skills and to use various innovative teaching methods that are learner-centred and encouraged the solving of real-world tasks. Teachers feel that encouraging creativity, integrating minority pupils and using ICT as a tool for developing critical thinking are just some examples of the course modules that undoubtedly will help broaden their teaching potential and will hopefully motivate students on return to the classroom! Finland is renowned for its high educational standards and it was a wonderful opportunity for our teachers to experience this first hand.
We look forward to sharing the knowledge and skills we acquired with our RCC and GRETB colleagues over the next few months and putting it to good use in the classroom for the benefit of our students
Ms. Martin, Mr. Mc Hugh, Ms. Staunton and Ms. Concar participating in an ICT Tools for Assessment, Computer Workshop in Vantraa Vocational School Varia, Helsinki
Ms. Staunton, M. Martin and Mr. Mc Hugh pictured with fellow Erasmus KA1+ course participants from Sardinia, Croatia and Poland
Ms. Concar presenting their groups feedback on a Task Based Learning Project at the ‘Innovative Approaches to Teaching’ course
Ms. Concar working on a Task Based Learning Project
Erasmus Ka1+ participants engage in a cross-cultural learning experience
Mr. McHugh working on a Task Based Learning Project
Erasmus KA1+ participants gain a broader understanding of practices, policies and systems of education of different countries
Recipients of the certificate of completion from ITC International for
‘Innovative Approaches to Teaching’ course
‘Intercultural Learning and Cultural Diversity in the Classroom’
Teachers: Mr. F. Timmons, Ms. S. Tully, Ms. S. Gunn and Ms. M. Carroll
Location: Bologna, Italy
Dates: 24th-30th June 2018
Objectives of course:
- Confront head-on stereotypes and personal prejudices, while developing their cultural sensibilities
- Identify mechanisms of oppression inherent in public institutions, and how this affects classroom dynamics
- Explore different points of view through the participation of simulation exercises and storytelling
- Learn new approaches to education that can be applied to culturally diverse classrooms
- Know more about teacher’s role in the integration process of immigrant or foreign children
- Exchange good practices and discuss challenges with fellow colleagues and the course trainers
Four teachers from our school travelled to Bologna, Italy in June 2018 to partake in an Erasmus KA1+ Programme entitled ‘Intercultural Learning and Cultural Diversity in the Classroom’. This very worthwhile and exciting learning experience, funded by the Erasmus KA1+ Programme of the EU, follows a series of three other very successful Erasmus KA1+ experiences that teachers at our school have participated in over the last year.
The Erasmus KA1+ Programme is an EU initiative to support education and training in Europe. The aim of this course was to help teachers develop their cultural awareness, while giving them the tools and new approaches to cater to a multinational and culturally diverse group of students. Our teachers studied with educators of different nationalities within the EU, representing schools or institutions from countries such as Belgium, Spain, Finland, France and Germany. Over the course of the week they engaged in cross-cultural learning experience, exchanged ideas and built their confidence in promoting innovative and active pedagogies that are responsive to cultural diversity.
In this magnificent learning environment, our teachers shared ideas, knowledge and their experiences, whilst engaging in a series of educational workshops, classroom theory and off-site educational and cultural excursions. Our teachers felt that the course environment created by course coordinators allowed them to exchange good practices and discuss current challenges in a multicultural classroom with international teachers and course trainers, creating a very meaningful learning environment as rich discussion occurred amongst participants.
Throughout the course there was a particular focus on ‘culture’ and its meaning. EU participants discussed how culture is very similar to an iceberg; when we see an iceberg, the portion which is visible above water is, in reality, only a small piece of a much larger whole. Similarly, people often think of culture as the numerous observable characteristics of a group that we can “see” with our eyes, be it their food, dances, music, arts, or greeting rituals. However, in reality, these are merely an external manifestation of the deeper and broader components of culture -the complex ideas and deeply-held preferences and priorities known as attitudes and values.
Participants then progressed to discuss two types of stereotypes; 1. Hetero-stereotypes and 2. ‘Auto-stereotypes’, and how our stereotypes almost act as a filter to what we see. Stereotypes can become prejudices and though groupwork activities this was debated. Next participants discussed how to fight prejudice in their schools, giving new ideas to all. A role play was then undertaken amongst participants, a language barrier being part of this fun and engaging task! Following on from this participants shared examples of best practise from the European countries they represented. A debate on non-formal education then occurred and the importance of non-formal education to foster inclusion in the classroom was discussed in smaller groups.
RCC teachers were full of praise for this course and look forward to sharing the many new skills and ideas that they learned with management and teaching staff in Roscommon Community College. They not only developed their cultural awareness whilst learning tools and new approaches to cater to a multicultural and ethnically diverse group of students, but realise the importance of humanity and empathy to help integrate students into our school.
RCC Teachers make a presentation about our school to fellow Erasmus KA1+ participants from various European countries
Mr. Timmons engaged in a groupwork activity with fellow Erasmus KA1+ participants
Ms. Tully giving a presentation on the meaning of Stereotypes and Prejudice, with some fellow Erasmus KA1+ participants from Spain and Belgium
Ms. Carroll and Mr. Timmons working in a pairwork activity on the meaning of ‘Culture’ with course participants from Finland and Belgium
Ms. Gunn giving her group’s feedback in task assigned as part of a groupwork activity
Ms. Tully presenting with some of her fellow Erasmus KA1+ course participants
Ms. Tully and Ms. Gunn working on a creative task
Structured Training Course 5
‘How we Avoid Dropouts in Schools- The Way of Finland ‘
Teachers: Mr. J. Mannion, Mr. D. Donlon, Mr. J. Kelly and Mr. M. Callanan
Location: Joensuu, Finland
Dates: 3rd-7th July 2018
During the summer holidays four of our teachers, Mr. Mannion, Mr. Donlon, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Callanan were busy building up their continuous professional development as they successfully completed an Erasmus KA1+ course entitled ‘How we avoid dropouts in schools-the way of Finland’. This course was held over the first week in July in Joensuu in Eastern Finland, funded by the Erasmus KA1+ Programme of the EU. This course is the fifth successful Erasmus KA1+ experience that teachers at our school have participated in over the last year.
Over the course of the week, the teachers engaged in a series of educational workshops, on-site educational visits and cultural experiences. About 99.7 % of pupils in Finland go through the basic compulsory education starting school at the age of 7. Hence, course participants were eager to learn and experience how Finland achieves this rate.
The course involved learning about and witnessing several of the services that are available to students in Finland, as schools work together with social and health care services to handle difficult situations for pupils (e.g. violence, drugs, antisocial behaviour, crimes etc). On the first morning a plenary session explained how, in the Finnish education system, no student is left behind and students with additional educational needs are supported extensively to achieve to the best of their ability in their schooling. The first site visit of the week was to a Kindergarten where course participants saw the experimental learning that is afforded to pre-school learners in Finland. The Finnish education system recognises the parent as the child’s primary educator, through which the logic of keeping children at home for longer than Ireland is well justified. Participants also visited a hospital school, where students who are hospitalised have the opportunity to continue their education whilst being treated for their illness. This visit was proof of the extent to which ‘no child is left behind’ in the Finish education system.
In the classroom, course participants took part in a seminar designed at explaining how the Finnish system integrates immigrant students into their education system. The Finnish language can be a major barrier to the successful integration of immigrant students and so this has resulted in them offering a one-year course in the language to new immigrant students. The system offers different paths of education to immigrants and realises that they do not necessarily need to integrate into the mainstream system to be successful in their education. Participants also visited the OHJAAMO 2.0 project, a very worthwhile service that assists young people in finding employment upon finishing their education.
In Finland, school care teams aim to make the whole school a better learning environment for all and so the psychological support services provided to students was outlined. The Finnish Law of Student Welfare recognises student welfare as a part of learning and offers both communal and individual student supports. One example of this is making the school yard an enjoyable and comfortable areas where students will want to be. The engaging course drew to a close with an excursion to the Loli National Park where the natural beauty of Finland’s forests and lakes must be seen to be believed as a written description simply cannot do it justice.
Overall, a very educational course and a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all. Finland is renowned for its high educational standards and it was a wonderful opportunity for our teachers to experience this first hand. The teachers on this course look forward to sharing the knowledge and skills they acquired with management and teaching staff in Roscommon Community College over the coming months.
Mr. J. Kelly, Mr. D. Donlon, Mr. M. Callinan and Mr. J. Mannion pictured on receiving their Erasmus KA1+ certificate for participation in ‘How we avoid dropouts in Schools’ course in Joensuu, Finland
Mr. Mannion, Mr. Callanan, Mr. Donlon and Mr. O’Ceallaigh participating in a workshop as part of their Erasmus KA1+ course in Joensuu
Mr. Mannion engaging in a team building exercise
Mr. O’Ceallaigh participating in a drama activity
Some downtime! Cultural Trip around the lakes of Joensuu
Erasmus KA1+ Participants pictured on successful completion of their ‘Preventing Early School Leaving’ course in Joensuu.
Structured Training Course 6
Harmony and Learning: Promoting harmony through class management and mediation techniques, to reduce early school leaving
Teachers: Mr. P. Casserly, Ms. O. Farrell, Ms. K. Dennigan and Ms. E. Healy
Location: Senglea, Malta
Objectives of course:
- Develop communication and empathy skills
- Promote mediation and negotiation tools
- Share best practices and transfer practical knowledge on classroom management between different cultural zones
- Increase awareness of their own style in the classroom and enhance their natural abilities in giving positive feedback
- Develop ones ability to ensure harmonious group building and transform the class into a team by usage of non-formal group dynamics
- Increase confidence in international cooperation skills and communication strategies on an institutional level
- Promote European cooperation in the field of education
The final Erasmus KA1+ trip of our project took place in Malta, with four teachers from our school participating in this exciting European educational opportunity. This course was funded by the Erasmus KA1+ Programme of the E.U. Throughout the week our teachers engaged in educational workshops that enabled teachers from several European countries to collaborate and create a support network. The educational workshops at the beginning of the week were based on topics such as cultural challenges within the classroom; teacher’s values for educational coaching into intercultural classroom environment and stereotypes and prejudices in the classroom.
On the first day, participants introduced themselves by using a body movement that best described their name; this was one of several methodologies that our teachers engaged in during the week. The idea behind these practices is to help promote a culturally inclusive classroom without having a language barrier. Conveying meaning through methods other than language is very important in intercultural classroom management and therefore, our teachers felt this was something they could transfer into their classroom. This brought us onto the topic of “culture” and what it meant to each individual and what challenges it brings to the classroom. Discussions then followed about the different cultural stereotypes and prejudices that can exist within a classroom and how we as teachers can collaborate on how to overcome these challenges. A wealth of knowledge from many European countries was discussed and debated, creating a very rich and real learning environment.
Participants also had the opportunity to promote their own cultures by presenting their school projects and sharing their experiences of successful ways to communicate and connect within the multi-cultural classroom. Participants worked together to discuss how to communicate effectively by debating a range of conflict handling styles, exercising mediator skills and conversing on the importance of internal and external motivation for students to avoid early school leaving. An important word that was discussed in relation to these topics was “empathy”. Participants brainstormed on a range of methodologies that could be adapted by teachers to allow for the individual needs of students to be met.
After successfully completing this Erasmus KA1+ Programme, our teachers have come away with enhanced teaching skills and have established links with teachers from other European countries. Overall, it was a very beneficial and enjoyable course. Our teachers will now share their learnings with all staff of Roscommon Community College and aim to adopt a whole school approach where methodologies learned can be incorporated into our daily teaching.
Mr. Casserly hard at work on Erasmus KA1+ course!
Ms. Dennigan documenting her groups answers to task set on Erasmus KA1+ course
Ms. Healy presenting to fellow Erasmus KA1+ participants
Ms. Healy, Ms. Farrell, Mr. Casserly and Ms. Dennigan on receiving their Erasmus KA1+ certificate for participation in “Harmony and Learning: Promoting harmony through class management and mediation techniques, to reduce early school leaving” in Malta