I’m definitely getting grumpier. As the years go by I get more and more annoyed with the isolation in which we teachers carry out our job. Not only is it possible for us to spend our entire career – from the day we graduate to the day we retire – without once being observed by a collegue or inspector, but similarly there is no onus on us as professionals to show that we are aware of best practice elsewhere, even if elsewhere happens to be the class next door.
Okay, so it’s a slight exaggeration; we do now have department ‘inspections’, but let’s face it – these are highly contrived occasions and are seen almost exclusively as stressful occasions to ‘get over’ rather than opportunities to become reflective of our own teaching.
Last time I checked this was 2009 – the 21st century – and there is still no forum for teachers to share resources, ideas or even ask advice of our colleagues on a country-wide forum. At National School level the INTO have a number of discussion forums for their members, at Secondary level the ASTI have yet to initiate such a concept.
Hopefully the recently formed Teaching Council of Ireland will set something up, or maybe even the Teachers Professional Network, which has given considerable funding to CESI to help run the event.
That’s why CESI is so important for individuals like me. It is primarily for teachers involved in ICT, but it does allow us to acknowledge that there is a wider world out there, composed of professionals who are all trying to improve their teaching. The CESI forum (see the homepage) has grown to over 300 members, and one of its great strengths is that it incorporates all levels of education.
Next Friday and Saturday sees the CESI annual conference in Tallaght. It is one of the very few conferences which I really look forward to. There is a tremendous sense of goodwill and energy pervading the two days and it is impossible not to leave inspired. And of course what differentiates it from so many other well-intentioned conferences is that the forum allows for immediate follow-up and feedback, ensuring that wonderful ideas don’t slide down the ‘to-do’ list.
I have encouraged colleagues in my own school to attend, but when they ask what’s the big deal about using ICT I struggle to give an articulate answer on the spot. So when Anne-Marie posted this on the forum recently I zoned in on it immediately. She writes better than I ever could about the potential of ICT in teaching. It’s not a case of ‘what use is ICT’?’, it’s more a case of no matter what you teach, ICT has to potential to improve your teaching, if only you allow yourself to be open to it:
I am a muinteoir Gaeilge and a budding ICT enthusiast. I am very enthusiastic but a real novice with ICT. I began using ICT in the rang Gaeilge last year with three first year groups.Each student had the option of doing a project in the traditional way or by using the free Photostory software. The majority chose to do a photostory project . It appealed to all levels of ability. I couldn’t believe the students enthusiasm in putting their projects together and how proud they were of the finished product. They were all very keen that everyone would see their films as Gaeilge. This project developed all 4 language skills in a way that few other projects could. It appealed to all students and they enjoyed working on it.There was no struggle getting students to complete work.
This year, I have been working on radio programs and editing with a fourth year group as part of the Gael Linn comortas chlar raidio. I am planning to start a module on blogs and Podcasting after mid term. I am not sure whether I am brave or stupid, but the students are enthusiastic and social networking is their world , so the plan is to use this to our advantage in the seomra Gaeilge.
I would really love to attend the conference but unfortunately it is not possible. I would very much appreciate any help or suggestions anyone could give me and would love feedback on the conference.
Thanks to Anne-Marie for allowing me to use the quote.
I know the conference falls over mid-term, but I promise you that you will not regret the decision to turn up. Given the recent withdrawal of funding and support from the department, it seems that our greatest resource is each other. Prepare to be inspired.