Teachers teach less by what they say and more by what they are

A report from Philip O’Callaghan about his service with Coláiste Pobail Setanta in Dublin

Following the completion of my Professional Diploma in Education at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth I wanted to give back to the community through the sphere of education. I decided therefore to volunteer my time in the school where I had completed my teaching practice. My time spent in the school after the completion of the teaching practice was extremely beneficial to me in so many ways. My role has taken on so many different dimensions over the last couple of weeks.

Firstly I continued to teach numerous different classes while volunteering in the school, this for me proved extremely rewarding. Having spent the entire year developing my professional role as a teacher through reflection I began to see the power of education for our students. By teaching I was given the opportunity to develop my communication and presentation skills, as facilitators of learning we must have the ability to communicate ideas effectively and clearly so as the students can understand the topic. As the weeks passed on the term began to draw to a close this could only mean one thing, school tours! I assisted with the supervision of these school tours, of which I went on two. The first of which was to Causey farm in Kildare where 1st year students developed a greater understanding of the farming industry. The second and most challenging school tour was the 1st year hikes to Glendalough, this involved an all day hike finished off by a quick, ‘dip’ in the lake.

The community service that I conducted in the school ended with the final semester exams where I supervised the in house exams and assisted with students who have Special Educational Needs. Numerous other tasks were completed during this community service period, these included subject departmental planning for next September.

In terms of completing community service like the tasks mentioned above it is always important to keep in mind what you are learning and gaining from the experience. For me having spent some time with the students outside of the classroom environment provided the opportunity to get to know the students on a more personal level. This for me allowed for a better educational experience all round. In terms of the subject planning my personal development in terms of skills was developed. I had to ensure that all the tasks were completed within the specific time frame and that they were to a high standard.

The overall experience that I gained by completing the community service project in the school I hope will benefit my placement with, ‘Achieve’. As teachers we are always in the pursuit of higher academic standards and increased accountability on our part to deliver effective meaningful lessons. The community service has taught me one very valuable lesson and it is realized through a quote, ‘teachers teach less by what they say and more by what they are.’