Sunset - by Ellie, Transition Year at Colaiste Pobail Osraí - the pictures were part of the school photography competition
While learning and teaching in a pandemic brings many challenges, students and teachers at Coláiste Pobail Osraí have been going above and beyond to maintain the school spirit (spiorad na scoile), to communicate and to excel.
As schools around the country were catapulted into a world of uncertainty with online teaching and learning, students and teachers in Coláiste Pobail Osraí benefited from a decided advantage as the school has been developing their digital strategy and methods of digital inclusion for many years. Since 2012, Coláiste Pobail Osraí has been a 1:1 device school (each pupil has their own iPad) and the staff and management have recognised the need to prepare students for an increasingly digital world.
The transition to the online classroom was relatively smooth for both students and staff. Students and staff are well-versed in the world of Microsoft Teams, which is a platform for communication, idea sharing and collaboration.
Teachers are employing a variety of teaching strategies including: conducting live online classes where students can view the teacher’s content, ask questions, engage in groupwork and participate in online quizzes and exercises; pre-recording lessons which students can access at a time that is suitable for them; putting together online quizzes, forms and tests which students can complete and submit; sending work and collaborating through conversations on the Teams platform; conducting assemblies, oral exams, and providing individual support through chat and calls.
While it has taken some getting used to, it has helped to maintain the strong sense of community and provided space to collaborate at a time when students and staff are isolated and apart.
Excellence in teaching and learning is a priority, however student care and wellbeing is of equal importance. These unprecedented times are extremely challenging for some in the school community.
The Coláiste had an established online and offline system of support for students and staff, which continues. The Pastoral Care Team designed the ‘Whole-School Challenge’.
Students shared their new skills, be it a new instrument they picked up, photography, a new recipe they created, a visual diary of their new experiences or how they helped around the house.
The students took part in the ‘Drop Everything and Read’ campaign for World Book Day and shared their books of choice. A challenge that proved very popular among staff and students alike was the weekly physical challenge. Who needs Joe Wicks when they have Múinteoir Caoimhe encouraging them all to get up and feel the fresh air before a day’s work online?!
In the meantime, celebration of the schoolyear’s end moves online, with Transition Year enjoying an evening of music and dance, as well as slideshow of the vast array of activities undertaken throughout the year. The tradition of Oíche na nGradam (awards evening) has also had a make-over this year, and will encompass a daytime celebration of school spirit and endeavour on the final Friday of the schoolyear.
It is with particular sadness, but also huge pride, that Coláiste Pobail Osraí bids farewell to the Sixth Year students, and wish them well in their future lives. Their physical time in the school may have been cut short, but their part in the wider school community has been maintained through fantastic engagement online.
Not only have students continued to engage in subject content, and extra-curricular activities of a different kind, but many have thrived in this new environment. The levels of engagement and willingness to learn are a great source of pride to all at Coláiste Pobail Osraí.
While students are understandably looking forward to a day where they can return to be with their friends and engage in face-to-face teaching again, there is no doubt that their learning has continued to improve and develop through both their own initiative and the encouragement and support they get from their teachers and families.