Ashoka Ireland Changemaker Schools - Winter 2017

 

FROM SUN TO FROST - WELCOME BACK

Welcome to the 2nd edition of our Changemaker Schools Newsletter, where we give you the latest updates from our Changemaker Schools Network in the development of the Changemaker skills of empathy, creativity, leadership and teamwork. A lot has happened since our last publication in June, such as our Changemaker Schools Induction Evening in October and teacher exchanges in Francis St CBS in collaboration with PEPY in Cambodia.

Have a read of our updates below and, last but not least, we hope you have a great Christmas break and we'll see you again next Summer for the next newsletter.

 

NETWORK UPDATES: OUR CHANGEMAKER SCHOOLS EVENING

On October 3rd, we formally welcomed three new Changemaker Schools – Tarmon National School (Co. Roscommon), Scoil Bhríde Shantalla (Co. Galway) and Dalkey School Project National School (Co. Dublin).

The evening, hosted generously by Ashoka Support Network members Paul and Therese Sullivan in their home, brought together the Irish Changemaker Schools network and education leaders from across the country. It was a wholehearted welcome for the new principals, with many inspirational speeches given from our Changemaker Schools principals, ASN member Paul Sullivan, and Brian MacCraith (President of DCU).

 

NETWORK UPDATES: OUR PRINCIPALS ARE GOING TO LYON

Ashoka will be running a global Changemaker Schools summit, hosted by a selected Ashoka office from across the world. In 2018, the summit will be hosted by Ashoka France in the gorgeous city of Lyon.

The summit will bring together Change Leaders from around the world who are at the forefront of transforming education systems and, specifically, building learning ecosystems that empower young people to live for the greater good.

With an emphasis on deep listening, radical transparency and practical learning, we will share our experiences in the realities of changing systemic mechanisms and mindsets; learn about the practicalities of scaling systemic innovations; and revitalise ourselves so that we can continue our work with renewed energy and focus.

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SCHOOL HIGHLIGHT: DALKEY SCHOOL PROJECT NATIONAL SCHOOL

Elected this year as our 15th Changemaker School, Dalkey School Project was the first Educate Together School in Ireland. They engage with ‘Restorative Practices’ to manage behaviour and a ‘Movement and Massage’ program for their pupils with special educational needs. To improve the well-being of their staff, meetings are conducted in a ‘World Café’ style fashion.

The school is renowned for their ‘Forest School’, which brings students into their natural environment to learn history, geography, science and art. The Forest School has proven to be an exceptional method of active learning for pupils.

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CREATIVITY: FOREST FRIDAYS IN DSPNS

Dalkey School Project NS Forest Friday sessions bring the children and the curriculum to the forest. Each child in the school gets the opportunity to learn in this way for a block of 9 weekly sessions every second year. The structure of each session allows the children to build connection; to themselves through sit spots, creative opportunities and reflection; to each other through games and teamwork; and to the world we live in through experiencing it with all their senses and having regular visits to it.

The aim is to foster resilient, independent, confident and creative learners using a flexible approach and natural resources. Spending time in nature has proven benefits for increasing well being and creativity, lowering stress, boosting the immune system and developing empathy and a love of the world. All this and every curriculum area is covered at the same time!

"If they did it every year, it would change our world!"

A love of a place or a sense of connection and belonging are imperative to fostering sustainable behaviours. A quote by David Suzuki frames this; "Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can't expect them to help protect and care for it. Or one by David Attenborough; "No one will protect what they don't care about and no-one will care about what they have never experienced."

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EMPATHY: 2ND CLASS TALK HUMAN RIGHTS

Nina Quirke, a parent in DSPNS, did a workshop with 2nd class about the UN goals for Human Rights. Nina and husband Danny are going to work in Vietnam as Development Workers for two years. Their children are in 2nd class and Junior Infants. Once Nina and the family are settled down in Vietnam, connections will be made with schools and teachers there Vietnam. See below for a video from 2nd class on human rights.


NEWS FROM OUR CHANGEMAKER SCHOOLS

 

LEADERSHIP: OUR LADY’S AND ST MOCHUA’S MATHS WEEK MADNESS

As part of Maths Week Ireland, the P6 class went to meet one of our local social entrepreneurs, Mr Niall Woods, Chairperson of our local St Mochua’s GAC. The Club, under the leadership of Niall, have led a community based project to create a car park at the Club. We will all benefit from this great community effort, where funds were raised to secure the work. Niall told us that community leaders like himself want to give back to the community and make sure that the young people have 1st class facilities. All the work has been completed by volunteers working hard every week. We got to look at how to construct a car park, which will be very useful for our own project in P6 – designing a car park for parents. Lots of measuring and problem solving and great examples of Changemakers in our community.

We have also been involved in a new programme in the school, the Global Learning Programme, which dovetails beautifully in to our Changemaker programme. We are learning about sustainable development, equality and social justice and fairness and then relating this to our own car park project. Like our GAC we have to think about these Global Learning Concepts when it comes to the construction of our school car park and sustainable development in the future.

 

CREATIVITY: TARMON NATIONAL SCHOOL WIN THE "SOMEONE LIKE ME" ART COMPETITION

When the Department of Justice and Equality announced its art competition for Primary schools entitled “Someone Like Me”, the pupils and staff in Tarmon National School were delighted to have the opportunity to take part as it encompassed a topic very close to their hearts.

The competition aimed to promote disability awareness among primary school children and gives them a greater understanding of what unites children of differing abilities. In preparation for the competition, pupils discussed the topics of disability awareness and inclusion. In 5th and 6th class, they creatively expressed what they had learned by creating a piece that promotes inclusiveness, highlights the similarities between people and encourages children to think about treating others the way they like to be treated.

For their project, they combined hand prints of different pupils in the school into the shape of a butterfly and the pupils colourfully decorated the hand prints with various materials. A child chose the title of “Together We Are Brilliant” as a caption for the piece.

With over 2,000 entries in the competition nationwide, Tarmon NS were delighted when they were chosen as the Senior category County winner for Co. Roscommon. They have been invited to the “Someone Like Me” National Final Exhibition and Awards ceremony at Dublin City Hall on the 4th December and are really looking forward to this.

A big congratulations to all the pupils in 5th and 6th class alongside their teacher Mr. Collins and SNA Ms. Anne Beirne.

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EMPATHY: TAKE A BRAIN BREAK WITH SCOIL IOSAGAIN

 

LEADERSHIP: GETNS ARE CAMPAIGNING FOR THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN IRELAND

By joining forces with Inclusion Ireland over the course of the school year, Galway Educate Together National School will get behind a campaign that seeks to ratify the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a document about rights for people with disabilities. It promises that people with disabilities can enjoy the same rights and freedoms that everybody else does. However, the one big obstacle to this very promising document is that the Irish Government have yet to ratify it. This means that Ireland is currently the only country in the EU that has not ratified the Convention and that people with disabilities in Ireland are not enjoying some of the most basic freedoms and human rights of the 21st Century - employment opportunities, taking part in community activities and taking control over their own lives to live independently.

The goal? Raise awareness and give voice to this very worthy campaign and educate the entire community about the imperative need for a ‘push’ toward getting this Convention ratified.

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TEAMWORK: LITTLE ANGELS ADOPT THE “NO BARRIERS” GYM INITIATIVE

Little Angels Special School, an already outstanding example of inclusion in Ireland, is delighted to be involved with the "No Barriers" gym initiative, which has been devised by Johnny Loughrey and his team in JT Physiotherapy. The programme aims to break down any barriers to physical activity for anyone in the community, with the belief that everyone should have access to a fit and healthy lifestyle. The JT Physiotherapy team even approached the school and sought their input when devising the programme.

Another marvellous step forward for inclusion and acceptance in the community.

 

TEAMWORK: THE CHANGEMAKER TEAM OF FRANCIS ST CBS

The Changemaker team in Francis St, a group of 7 managed by Change Leader Ms. Rushe, focuses on changing the world for the good of all. Their focus? Building creativity, empathy, problem-solving and leadership skills so that they can help not just themselves by their community and the wider world.

They carry out numerous Changemaking activities like raising money for local and global charities, engaging in school and community projects and gardening in the community allotment.

We look forward to seeing more from these guys in the coming years.

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LEADERSHIP: EGLISH NS AND PUPIL VOICE

In collaboration with the NCCA, Eglish National School documented their initiatives in leadership, independence and pupil voice. Watch the NCCA's videos on their 'Morning Ritual' and 'Child Led Assembly'.

Eglish NS are renowned for their work in developing puplic speaking and storytelling skills, having developed their own oral language programme called 'Let's Stand'. In the words of their principal:

”Everything we do in Eglish is based on 3 simple rules: We work together, do our best and respect each other.”
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GLOBAL EDUCATION: "FROM A TEACHER TO A SYSTEM CHANGER"

Margaret Rasfeld, Ashoka Fellow and founder of what some may call Germany's most innovative school Evangelische Schule Berlin Zentrum, spoke at TEDx Vienna about her bottom up education paradigm changing movement 'Schule im Aufbruch' (School in Transformation). Watch her TED talk here, where she discusses her life as a Changemaker from beginning to end, "from a teacher to a system changer."

Margaret has won both the Vision Award 2012 and the Querdenker Award 2013, and her school has also received several awards for the advancement of the gifted by the KARG foundation by supporting social learning and community education as well as education in entrepreneurship.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoGFaJXhnqE

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MEDIA FEATURE: FIONA COLLINS' ARTICLE ON TRANSFORMATIVE EMPATHY

“The staff of Francis St. had a broader ambition in the teaching of empathy: one of a curriculum and school that could empower pupils to take responsibility for their own lives, their community, their school, their country, and their world, now and throughout their lives.”

Principal of Francis St CBS and Ashoka colleague Fiona Collins wrote about the importance of empathy in schools and the development of her school and pupils through the Changemaker vision. She discusses the origins of empathy alongside the methodologies adapted in her school to encourage and nurture empathetic skills in children.

Her article was published in Barnardos Ireland's 2017 Childlinks Empathy Issue.

 

SPREAD THE WORD AND STAY IN TOUCH

This is the Winter 2017 edition of the Ashoka Ireland Changemaker Schools newsletter. Feel free to share the link widely with anyone in your network. If you would like to be informed via email of when our next edition is published, please email Moira Malone (mmalone@ashoka.org).

Find out more about our Changemaker Schools on our website, and find Ashoka Ireland on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you would like to learn more about Changemaker Schools from around the world, go to changemakerschools.org.