Droichead Reflection and Cluster Meeting 2

Tonight marked my second Cluster meeting as part of a Droichead placement and I have mixed reviews so far about the process still.

When the process first started I was very intrigued by the idea of the process. Having established teachers in the school mentor you through your first year as a Newly Qualified Teacher sounded far more appealing than some other processes that NQTs and even student teachers are expected to do in order to reach their full potential.

Thus far I have found the feedback from my mentors very helpful and in general the relaxed approach and less formal class observations have reinforced my confidence for my teaching skills. I have been confident on my ability to plan and create good lessons since I finished my final teaching placement but I found areas I was lacking was illustrating my authority in the classroom and it is something I reckon I will find my skills improving over time because even since I started properly teaching since I finished college I’m developing new management skills on a regular basis. I can’t promise my students have learned as much as I would’ve liked them to learn, but I can promise I have learned so much about myself and what I am capable of and what I still need to learn and get used to.

So my review of the observing and mentoring process is certainly positive one.

The cluster meetings on the other hand I have questions with. It was certainly not that they were not organised but instead I felt the content of both meetings was regurgitating what has been preached to use since day one of education at undergrad; importance of professionalism in the school, understand the benefits of preparation, etc. I found these reminders irritating early in college because although it is vital that it is said, I also felt it was surely a natural understanding in a job where you are working with children.

The meeting itself was well prepared but I felt it lacked in so many areas. I have greatly benefited from chatting to colleagues and friends about our different experiences in different schools and I think at these meetings there is an opportunity to discuss experiences with new people so the lack of moving around and group discussion was an missed opportunity. Personally I find discussions and peer collaboration the best thing for learning. Sharing ideas and suggesting methods is far more effective to myself and other NQTs opposed to listening and reading Power Points. We’ve heard all the theories its the practical that we need to receive experience because there is only so much you can learn from theory. Experience is the only thing we need to further our careers. Overall I certainly wouldn’t dishearten the Droichead cluster meetings, just see far more potential in what they could be.



#5j16, #droichead, #edchatie, #nqt, #reflection, #teaching

Key figures for teaching a question of Faith

The following men are extremely benefical case studies when studying the importance of the relationship between science and religion.

Conor Cunningham’s award winning Documentary on this very topic established why both Ultra Darwinist and Creationists have hijacked the debate regarding whether Evolution means Atheism. Cunningham claimed in his documentary that like many atheists, our knowledge and concept of God goes beyond the theory of evolution, but that is not the case for Dawkins or Ham, ‘Both Ultra-Darwinians and creationists believe that any existent deity is a designer ‘God.”’[1] Throughout his documentary Cunningham examines the reasoning behind much of this animosity toward the theory of evolution. He encounters many different philosophers, scientists and theologians discussing with them their response to evolution. Michael Ruse and Francis Collins are the two most notable scientists who refute the belief the Evolution implies atheism.

Michael Ruse is well known for balancing the benefits and negatives of religion and science. Ruse, a lecturer at Florida State University, is a philosopher of science who specialises in philosophy of biology. He is well known for his work for the relationship between science and religion, the creation evolution controversy and the demarcation problem in science. Ruse emphasises that although he himself is an atheist, he claims there is no reason why Darwinism should imply Ultra Darwinism. Francis Collins discusses how to illustrate a flaw in Dawkins theory of the Theory of Memes, ‘Science is committing a category error to claim dominion over the existence of God.’[2] Collins dedicated over fifteen years studying the role of DNA in organisms and it has only come to recent light that all living things link to each other in some shape or form through our DNA.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a French Roman Catholic priest and a scientist. He was highly respected for his work in physics, geology, palaeontology and theology. Teilhard de Chardin spent a great deal of his life in scientific research. Teilhard de Chardin believed scientific work gave him greater understanding of God as moral compass. The more he discovered about the world of nature the more he saw the creative hand of God at work. For this man, science and scientific research were ways of getting closer to God. He wrote his insights in his two books The Phenomenon of Man and The Hymn of the Universe. I think that Teilhard is a key example and role model with regard to our outlook on God. Instead of ignoring any scientific data previously presented by the likes of Darwin or Galileo, he instead embraced these theories and went on to discover the truth for self him and came to his own conclusions.

[1] Cunningham Conor, Darwin’s Pious Idea: Why the Ultra-Darwinists and Creationists Both Get it Wrong (William B. Erdmans, London; 2010) p.151.

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x3JJILFmU4 Did Darwin kill God  YouTube. Last Received 19/9/14

#5j16, #edchatie, #question-of-faith, #reflection, #religious-education

Classroom Contract

A classroom contract is an extremely effective way in establishing rules for pupils early on in the year. I made the mistake of waiting until now to use it. So far since I have started it it has been extremely effective.

The best way to construct the contract in in the classroom. Structure it in three sections, firstly, the I will section.


Here you ask the students through a series of higher and lower order questions what they think would come under the terms of what the students will in the classroom. The answers will range from be on time, to always put our hand up to having homework. Although these are systems of basic school rules, there is no harm to throw in one or two unique to your specific learning environment. Such as for History I will leave off topic questions until the end etc.

The I WILL NOT section:

Sure what else? Here we will again ask students what they will not do in class such as talk out of turn, swing on chairs, etc. Again incorporate you’re own devices such as toilet use. I will not use the toilet more than twice a week etc. Just to establish order.


For good behaviour and following the classroom contract, ensure the students see the benefit from their good behaviour and do not see no result of effectiveness from your part. Simple rewards such as a video reward or sweets rewards good behaviour. Punishments such as lines and write outs for those who do not follow the contract.

The contract is an extremely beneficial thing especially for weaker classes. Just ensure you yourself enforce it.

#5j16, #class-activities, #classroom-contract, #classroom-ideas, #edchatie, #education, #reflection, #teaching-resources-2

Making the most of Parent Teacher Meetings

This advice about parent teacher meetings comes from http://www.schooldays.ie/articles/making-the-most-of-parent-teacher-meetings

With my first year parent teacher meeting taking place tomorrow I took a good read of this in order to receive an insight of how to approach parent teacher meetings.

The following info is very convenient of dealing with parents and how best to provide positive and constructive feedback.

Whether your child is in Primary or Secondary School, the Parent Teacher Meeting is an important time to meet with your child’s teacher(s) in a one to one setting. Furthermore, it lets your child know that you care about their progress and their schools.

In Primary school parents will usually only meet with the child’sclass teacher. In Secondary school, however you will meet with all or most of their subject teachers (around six to ten individual teachers). However, at each level the objectives are similar. It is a chance to see how your child is getting on in school, where their strengths and weaknesses lie, how they socialise with other children in the classroom, playground, extra curricular activities etc. It is also a chance for your teacher to learn more about your child in order that you can work together for your child’s success.

Facing our child’s education can be daunting for some parents who carry feelings of anxiety from their own schooldays. However, many parents are surprised to learn that teachers, especially new ones, are equally anxious about meeting parents! So the best way to approach is to be positive and remember you are working on the same team.

The time limit for each parent(s) at the annual Parent Teacher Meeting at Primary school is about 10 to 15 minutes long. And at second level just a few minutes with each subject teacher.
It is therefore important to stick to the time allotted, as it can be irritating for other parents if the teacher’s time is monopolised by a couple of parents. (If there is a lengthy issue to discuss schedule a later appointment)
So it helps to do a little a little advance work to maximise this valuable time. Here are a few pointers that may help

A Few Pointers

§ Talk to your child. Let them know about the meeting and ask them if there is anything they would like you raise with their Teacher(s)

  • If you have any previous reports, check them for progress, trends, repeated behaviour and names of your child’s subject teachers!
  • Come with prepared questions. Jot them down and anything else you want to raise in order to keep focused.
  • The teacher will usually start with an outline of your child’s progress and will probably have examples of their work, test marks etc. So try and keep your questions specific and ask the important ones first


Sample Questions

Obviously emphasis and questions change as your child makes his or her way up through the school, but here is a range of example questions you may find useful.

  • What area is s/he best at?
  • Is s/he working to the best of his /her ability?
  • Does s/he comprehend what s/he reads?
  • Are there any areas s/he finds difficult? If so what are these specific areas?
  • Do you have any suggestions as to what I might do at home to help?
  • Does s/he participate in class?
  • How does s/he relate to others in the class?
  • Does s/he hand up homework /assignments on time, completed and at an acceptable level?
  • What does my child’s high/low standardised test scores tell me about my child? (standardised tests are usually completed at the end of 2nd, 4th & 6th class)
  • Does s/he have difficulty paying attention/following instructions/organising work or notes?
  • Is there anything about his/her performance or behaviour that you are concerned about?
  • Is s/he coping with the particular subject level?
  • How does s/he cope with exam stress?
  • If your child has learning difficulties clarify what help is available and other courses of action that needs to be addressed.
  • Remember to take notes, as it’s easy to forget something, particularly with the number of teachers to see at Secondary level



If you need to review anything suggest a further meeting there and then or phone/e-mail/write and set up an appointment that suits both of you.

Let your child know how the meeting went. They are usually curious to know what their teacher(s) think about them!

#5j16, #edchatie, #education, #meetings, #nqts, #parents, #reflection, #teachers, #teaching-resources-2

Regular Assessment

Recently I decided to start giving my first year pupils regular class assessments for the new year (a resolution  if you will.)

I don’t mean this in a basic class assessment but instead a weekly test. This is for the simple reason I felt my weaker students could benefit from regular workloads.


Assessment and testing have a strong effect on the lives and careers of young people. Decisions taken within and by schools influence the prospects and opportunities of their pupils and of even greater importance are their results of national tests and examinations. When the results of tests and examinations are used to pass judgments on teachers and schools, they also affect the ways in which pupils are taught. Given their importance, it is essential that results of summative assessment should reflect and influence school learning in the best possible way. This pamphlet considers how to arrive at a comprehensive summative assessment system capable of providing information, based on sound evidence, about a wide range of pupil competences. Available research evidence leads to the conclusion that systems relying heavily on tests results are found wanting in several respects, particularly in their ability to give a dependable, that is, both valid and reliable, account of pupils’ learning. It is argued that the negative consequences of summative assessment for learning and teaching can be minimised by more appropriate use of teachers’ judgement.

Ergo, each week I will give my pupils a short test based on what we covered in the week. Here is hoping I will see a slight improvement overtime in dedication and focus. I will write a recap blog on the 12th of February before the mid term starts.

#5j16, #assessment, #edchatie, #education, #reflection, #teaching-resources-2

Importance of focus and prep. (Anamantium backbone)

I decided to write this blog to once again introduce mindfulness into your class plan. Doesn’t matter what subject you teach it can be utilised.
My previous blog goes into this in-depth.
However I’m going to focus on the importance of stress relief for ourselves.
A lot of stress arrives along with being a teacher. Trying to get students to work to deadlines is far more stressful than myself attempting to reach a deadline because instead of dealing with my own procrastination habbits, I’m dealing with 30 others in front of me.
It reminds me to try and take time every week to go back and use my mindfulness training to stop and appreciate the basics and hidden details in everyday things.
I modified my own mindfulness training by using this sound which was apparently referred to as the most relaxing tune by scientists.
I find by listening it helps to foccus my attention onto my mindfulness and furthermore to receive a more concrete use of the meditation exercise.
I titled this blog the anamantian backbone because I feel meditation has a way of psychology training ourselves to be easier on ourselves and let go of our irritable thoughts that bring us down in the first place. Ergo allowing us to focus on the positive, acknowledge but then cast out the negatives and furthermore allow us to overcome fear and be prepared as we can be for the unexpected, (within reason).
It’s like the will of the Jedi, rejoice for the good, don’t embrace the negative as it is a path to the dark side.


Returning to blogging

I have not received the opportunity to blog as of late and today makes my official return to WordPress. Coming up to the Christmas break was hectic with masters work, school work and home work so I decided to take a well earned break from any form of work.

Returning to school after a well earned Christmas break has opened new challenges. Now being within the time period of my teaching placements over the past three years I am curious to see how the next few weeks differ to my placements especially since I am currently mentoring a Mater Dei student in for their respective four week placement.

Either way, I will keep this blog short and encourage all NQTs to set themselves some goals for school, personal life and a progression goal, something that may not be achieved this year but something that will start or develop as we go.

TO CONCLUDE:: I will finally get around to my top 5 blog posts.

Honorable Mention: Memes in the Classroom.

5. First Blog post. Being generic but it was a good and significant start to a new chapter in my life as I embarked on two journeys at the same time.

4. The Apprentice / The Historian: The blog I did talking about my idea for constructing a history module for TY based on the TV show the Apprentice where

3.  PodOmatic in the Classroom: This blog was an assignment where we had to research a Web 2.0 tool for the classroom and I decided to use PodOmatic because I intend to use podcasting with my debating team in the coming weeks to help them with their communication skills while using technology.

2. Horizon Report on low ICT competence: I enjoyed this blog surprisingly because it was a interesting read that reflected on the importance and necessity of introducing ICT and why we need to ensure the pupils have the abilities to survive in the forever-changing ICT based society. It also highlights the importance of the key skills such as communication need to be encouraged.

  1. My favourite blog post of the year?
    Belief and Values: This blog showed how using modern day television shows, video games or any modern trend as a teaching resource. It illustrates that any topic can be taught and we can relate anything back to student understanding if we think hard enough.

#5j16, #communication, #edchatie, #education, #key-skills, #reflection, #teaching-resources-2