Reporting from Dublin! Hi, this semester I’m pracing at an elementary school a little bit outside of the city called St. Andrew's College. The school starts in preschool and goes all the way until secondary school. I'm currently shadowing a teacher in a third grade classroom. The class has about seventeen students which enables the teacher to have a good handle on the classroom.
For my first post I wanted to speak about the similarities and differences that I have noticed since I first got involved in St. Andrew's. One similarity between America and Ireland is the importance of technology in the classroom. Due to the fact that technology is more and more becoming a vital part of our society, it seems to be internationally recognized that technology needs to be incorporated in some way. The school that I teach at allows for the teachers to have many opportunities to use technology throughout the day. So far, I have not seen a day go by without having my CT use the smart board that she has at the front of the classroom. The students' day begins with them reading their 'Do Now' assignment from the smart board that is to be completed as soon as they sit down in their seats. My teacher has also used the smart board so far math lessons, including games with fractions that makes the lessons more interactive and allows the students' to manipulate the shapes electronically. My CT has also used the smart board to show movies, a website of an author that was a guest speaker for the day, and for many other activities. The smart board allows my CT to transition easily between subjects and allows for a more cohesive and efficient day.
Another similarity that I have noticed is the general structure of the days in both countries. In America it is common in elementary school to have one teacher with one class for the whole day. My classroom in Ireland is also run the same way. Also, my teacher jumps from math directly into a language lesson back to back, which is similar to in America where all the subjects are done one directly after another. The school also has recess and snack breaks to allow the students to refocus, which is similar to America.
One difference between the two countries is that the students are being taught another language as one of their subjects during the day. In most schools in Ireland teachers instruct the students in the Gaelic language. There are a few American students for my classroom, and when the other students are learning Irish, they go to another classroom to have their American Studies class. I have only sat in on one of these classes, but the teacher during that class was teaching the students about the different holidays in America such as Columbus Day or Memorial Day. I also noticed that some of the students also leave the classroom during the day to learn another language such as French or Spanish. These students are learning two languages simultaneously as well as improving their knowledge of the English language.
A last difference between schools in Ireland versus schools in America is how extra help is given to the students that are struggling. Their special education classes are done similarly to how we teach in The States, but an interesting difference that I have noticed is that when a child is struggling with a particular concept, the teacher can recommend that they leave for extra instruction on that one topic. That way she does not have to slow down the entire class to accommodate that one student, and the students does not fall behind on the topic. This seems like a great strategy because the students benefit from one on one tutoring and the teacher is able to maintain the speed of her lesson.
So far it seems that the two countries have very similar forms of school with just a few subtle differences, but for the most part the schools in both locations are fairly similar!