I got an opportunity to go to the Festival of Education in Learning and Teaching Excellence (Féilte) on October 5th with the Youth Media Team. I’ve written a post about the YMT at Féilte on the ICT in Education conference blog so I’ll focus on the event itself in this post.
The venue for the was the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham and what a venue it was.
The day kicked off at 9am with Registration and refreshments with the opening of the festival at 10am. Micheál Ó Gríofa, Chairperson of the Teaching Council and Tomás Ó Ruairc, Director of the Teaching Council both addressed the attendees before giving the floor to Fintan O’Toole, Deputy Editor of the Irish Times. Fintan really connected with the audience in attendance and those connecting via social media. You can read my blog post on his guest lecture here.
Between 11 and 3 attendees were free to decide for themselves what they wanted to see. There was a multitude of projects on display as well as a number of showcase workshops which people could attend. I can’t comment on the workshops as I didn’t get a chance to go to any of them but I did get a chance to see some of the projects and I was very impressed with those that I did see. The ones that struck a chord with me particularly were the Bridge 21 and Beo Ireland projects. It’s probably no surprise that these were the ones that resonated as they too promote the student voice that we were at the event to amplify. Check out the other projects which were on display on the day in the programme.
The How I Learn book was officially launched at the start of the final session of the day. This is a crowd sourced book on learning styles edited by Helen Bullock. You can buy the printed copy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting @HowILearn on Twitter. The e-book can be downloaded at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and iTunes.
Michael Mulgrew, Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers addressed those gathered. When commenting on the similarities between education systems in the US and Ireland, he spoke about the fear about what’s going on in education, how “teachers are feeling some sort of disrespect”. He too spoke about empowering the educator and focussing on what we want from education. Again talk turned to the very strong relationship between educator and student and the work that goes into nurturing that relationship and doing the best job we can for the students who all have different needs. His final plea was for teachers to stand together and to be proud of what we do.
The keystone event was a chat show section chaired by Aoibhinn Ni Shúilleabháin. The panel members were David Coleman, clinical psychologist, Tracy Curran, Learning Support Teacher, and Professor Jim Lucey, Clinical Director at St. Patrick’s Hospital. Topics discussed included the sense of satisfaction when students “get it”, empowering learning rather than imparting information, the isolation sometimes felt in teaching, teachers mentoring and supporting each other, preventing burnout ….. and so much more. The mental health of students, of teachers and of unemployed teachers formed a large part of this final session as a number of teachers shared her own very personal experience of dealing with mental health issues.
The event was closed by the National Children’s Choir. It was a beautiful end to a great day.
Féilte was a busy invigorating day, which didn’t shy away from the many challenges that face the teaching profession, but which was also a fitting celebration of the diversity and vibrancy that characterises the profession in Ireland.
Check out the recordings and photos from the day on the Teaching Council website.