School Programme

We are always looking for partner schools. By coming on board, you will be part of a community of practitioners who are committed to putting the Bridge21 teaching methodologies into action.

It is a shared journey. We bring some of the technical know-how and our experience of developing the learning methodologies in the Bridge21 student programmes, and as a teacher, you bring your subject expertise and experience of working within the education system.

Teachers benefit in a number of ways including:

  • personal and professional development
  • an opportunity to build a progressive professional network and share experience
  • a chance to be part of shaping the education system

No experience of group or team-based teaching is necessary but an open mind and the courage to try something different does come in handy…

What we offer to schools:

  1. Professional development workshops for teachers
  2. Training programme for students
  3. Regular contact & support for principal and teachers
  4. Participation in an action research project to determine the effectiveness of the programme
  5. Participation in academic seminars & public events

Benefits to Participating Schools:

  1. Access to the expertise & support of the Bridge21 staff
  2. Strengthen and affirm the school as an exemplar 21st century learning environment.
  3. Leverage support to take the appropriate steps on the NCCA’s pathway towards change.
  4. Develop and expand the active learning community within the school.
  5. Foster a group of students who are confident, self-directed learners and who take  personal responsibility for their own learning.
  6. Use research data to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach to stakeholders e.g. board of management, parents etc.

 

[youtube width=”500″ height=”405″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ofjrhx3zuzE[/youtube]

A Bridge21 Teacher’s Story

When Claire and John first approached our school about Bridge21, I felt we had a real chance to become a part of something exciting in education. It wasn’t just their vision, dedication and enthusiasm that urged me to become involved, but also my own experience of learning both as a student and teacher. 

In recent times there has been very good support around planning and curricular guidelines, very often in the shape of in-service. However, I often felt frustrated in the classroom at what I perceived to be an obsession with the end result rather than the process. The question of whether the learning process could be as valuable as the outcome weighed heavily on my mind. With the training, up-skilling and encouragement from Bridge21 I cast aside my term plan and went back to the drawing board. Using team-work, mixed ability grouping, technology and a project based format the work began. Approaching teaching and learning from this angle required careful planning and even courage.

Initially there was a sense of nervousness in me about the visuals of my classroom. The traditionalist in me wanted to produce neat copies with dates and grades marked in red. Through Bridge 21 I was able to step out of this vision and return to the why and how I wanted to teach. Somewhere in my teaching career that was lost in the pressure to conform and produce end results. The research and work that Bridge 21 carried out empowered me as a teacher. I stopped worrying about the impression of the noisy and messy class as I knew from my students’ and my own evaluation that these were the classes where learning on many levels was taking place. I witnessed first year students develop roles, reveal skills and identify areas for developing in their projects. While students had agreed deadlines for projects, their initial aims grew and expanded over the weeks. I think the process for me threw surprise after surprise with every type of learner succeeding in the class. Students raised the standards and challenged each other to review work and improve it where they could in a collaborative way. Their self direction and problem solving was more ambitious than any of my planning would have hoped for. I even found their expectation of me as a teacher changed. There was a sense that we were co-educators in the classroom. We all had a responsibility to ourselves and each other. Essentially everyone’s productivity was increased but not in a pressurised way but in a dynamic and creative way. 

I strongly believe that if we don’t embrace the vision of Bridge21 we are in extreme danger of continuing to stunt generations of children’s intellectual development to a simple attitude of “will it be on the paper?” Education as imagined by Bridge21 is one where we are educating students for the future. If we don’t become radical in our teaching and learning we might as will drip feed study notes into our students from the moment they enter our schools. I would hope that the work of Bridge 21 will continue to flourish and with that, to quote Mark Twain, the hope that students’ “schooling will not get in the way of their learning.” 

Catherine Kelly is a teacher in Mercy Secondary School, Inchicore, Dublin 8