Wed, Jun 20th, 2018
Have you ever wondered about using Erasmus+ for professional development? School staff at any level from pre-school to secondary can travel to other European countries for training courses specific to their needs. The School Education Gateway is a great resource to find these kinds of courses! In this post, staff members of Claddagh National School in Galway share their recent experiences of professional development through Erasmus+ and eTwinning.
Being a teacher means that you never stop learning. The teachers at Claddagh National School in Galway believe that learning should be enjoyable for teachers, just as much as for the pupils themselves! The school called their 2017 Erasmus+ staff mobility project ‘Scléip’ to reflect this. ‘Scléip’ is an Irish word for festivity or fun, but also works as an acronym for what the project aims to achieve: ‘Schools Creating Leadership, Electronic and Inclusive Practice’.
Claddagh National School is an urban school with 320 pupils. The pupils are linguistically and culturally diverse, and many children in both mainstream and special needs classrooms have been diagnosed as having special educational needs (SEN). The project began with the school selecting four priority areas for staff professional development, identified through internal school self-evaluation along with their Delivering Equality in Schools (DEIS) inspection. The four key areas are:
In total, eleven teachers from the school will take part in five separate training courses in these areas. Gráinne O’Brien (SEN teacher), Sharon McCarthy (special needs assistant), Sinéad Fitzpatrick and Maeve Mitchell (mainstream class teachers) are four of these teachers, and recently returned from a course called ‘Special Needs: The Challenge of Inclusion’ in Lisbon, Portugal.
“We had a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting experience and were fascinated to learn about how best to include children with SEN in our schools. Having staff with different roles attend the course was very helpful, as we often took different ideas from the same lectures or visits and then discussed with each other.
It was interesting to see there were so many similarities between the Portuguese system of teaching children with SEN and our own. We were grouped with teachers and special needs assistants from Portugal, Serbia, Lithuania, Germany and Italy and although we attended many lectures and went to various schools, we found that we learned a lot from informal chats with our course colleagues too. We found some interesting differences between Ireland and other countries when speaking to other participants on the course.
We will return to our school and impart new knowledge and ideas to the rest of the staff to better help with the inclusion of children with SEN. We were particularly interested in The Future Classroom Lab and the idea of setting the classroom into different areas, and getting children into groups to work. In this scenario the classroom reflects life in the workplace, and prepares students to cooperate with each other and work together on assignments. This is a different approach to the individual learning which often takes place in our schools and would, we felt, be more conducive to an inclusive environment for children with SEN.
We all found the visits to schools extremely helpful, as we saw practical solutions to challenges of inclusion in practice.
We are extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity to continue our professional development!”
You can see more about this Erasmus+ project on its eTwinning Twinspace.
Images courtesy of Gráinne O’Brien. We welcome contributions to ‘Insights’ at firstname.lastname@example.org.