I can't believe that our semester is over and that I'm writing my final post about teaching abroad in Dublin. It was truly a worthwhile and formative experience for me; I loved every day that I was able to go into St. Andrew's! I have learned a lot about myself as a future teacher through this practicum and I would definitely encourage anyone thinking about going abroad to pursue this additional experience.
What I liked most about St. Andrew's, and what I think makes it different from schools we would be placed at through BC, is the overall responsibility that is placed on each student to really be in charge of their own learning. There is very little hand-holding and coddling, and as a result the students (by 5th grade at least) seem very mature and inquisitive. My classroom had very few written rules on the walls; it was expected that they would behave and be respectful towards each other and to the school. As a result, the environment throughout the school is so warm and personal because everyone who is there really wants to be successful at school. The principal's office is right in the middle of classrooms, which demonstrates how accessible she is to her students and teachers. It was such a great environment to be working in, and I'm sure I would have loved to go to school there as well.
While I never encountered any explicit examples of social justice teaching, I saw examples of how the school promoted equity without taking away from individual talents. In the schools I attended growing up, there was a tendency to overemphasize the fact that everyone is equal in the "everyone's a winner" way. There were certain games we weren't allowed to play at recess or in gym class because not every person could "win" the game. At St. Andrew's, there is a school-wide competition that is based on merit. If students are performing well in academics, sports, or other activities, their team earns points. At the end of the year, one team wins, but every student has tried to be their best at something throughout the year. I think that this is a great way to promote equity because everyone ends up working towards doing their best. It certainly creates a positive and fun environment at the school. If the opportunity arises in the future, this is a method I would certainly try to implement within my individual classroom.