Seamus Ryan, ex-Principal of Dunshaughlin Community College – a designated Microsoft School of the Future – is talking to the conference on his experiences in ‘building the dream’. DCC is a state school just north of Dublin, Ireland, one of eight in the Meath VEC area, 930 on roll – so in the top 5% in terms of size nationally, a large catchment but no competing schools and a staff of about 77.
From what he’s saying it’s clear that they’ve learn a lot from the work they have been doing in the Transition Year.He talks about the experience as making change a whole school project – all in – care staff, cleaners, teachers; deepening our understandings of 21st Learning; providing a wider variety of learning experiences (mentored by John West Burnham) and being innovative and adaptive of technology ‘where appropriate’. He talks about fixing the learning spaces and ‘much more importantly’ getting to grips with the learning styles of the students to personalise their schooling experience. The work is all about dealing with what he terms a Phase Two / Phase Three change situation – where it’s mostly about changing and rewriting the process. The work they are doing on tablet PCs in the teaching of Maths seems impressive; grades moving up, teachers getting into mindsets that allow them to teach themselves and each other. So much so that ‘the IT is not the issue here, the issue is development teaching skills around the learning and the personalisation of the student experience’.
It’s a refreshingly teacher-aware take on the whole new schooling movement.
*after W.B Yates