Instructional Leadership in Dominican College
It’s been four years since I was a student at Dominican College, Griffith Avenue. This year I returned as a PME (Professional Masters of Education) student. While it has been wonderful to come back to the familiar, it was clear to me from the first day back that a positive change had taken place. The staff has made efforts to continually improve the teaching and learning – a change that is affecting the entire school community. The first aspect of the school that immediately struck me were the increased emphasis on using Bloom’s Taxonomy when planning and teaching. Teachers are encouraged to set tasks and ask questions that involve the higher order stages of Bloom’s such as evaluating and creating. Each classroom has a small whiteboard, clearly visible to the students where teachers can write the learning intentions of the lesson on the board. Posters displaying the six levels of Bloom’s hang in every classroom as well as in the staffroom. There are posters on every teacher’s desk to remind them to incorporate Bloom’s taxonomy into their questions. Simple physical changes in the classroom have encouraged new teachers such as myself and more experienced teachers to bring these techniques into their classes.
From my own experience as a student, group work was viewed as something frivolous and inconsequential. It was the chance to have a chat with your friends and look busy when the teacher was near. Teachers perhaps were reluctant to carry it out in case the noise levels disrupted others. From my first day of observing classes in Dominican College, I quickly realised that this was no longer the case! Group work is now highly structured and often involves students analysing, evaluating and creating material thus tying in with Instructional Leadership techniques as well as the new Junior Cycle key skills. Teachers are framing questions in such a way that all students are accountable yet are more likely to participate in class because of the safe learning environment created.
From observing a number of classes in the school and chatting to various teachers about IL, these practices quickly became integrated into my own lessons. Think, pair, share methods have been particularly useful in my own teaching practice as an English teacher as well as increasing the wait time when asking questions.
While Dominican College is still the same friendly and welcoming school that it always was, there is an even better learning atmosphere apparent since I graduated four years ago. It is great to see such progress in a short space of time and the work I’ve seen here will certainly act as a standard which I will measure myself against during my teaching career. (Megan Oliver)