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Eglish National School is one of 15 Irish primary Changemaker Schools in the DCU Changemaker Schools Network.

The DCU Changemaker Schools Network is a community of practice and focussed on sharing best practice in the areas of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.
Schools in the network frame their work within changemaking leadership practices focussed on the development of Creativity Empathy Leadership and Teamwork with their students.
All students are encouraged to identify as Changemakers. Schools support the vision and mission of the DCU Institute of Education; to transform the education system for the better.
If you would like to find out more please follow us on twitter @DCUCMS and our website will be coming shortly

Changemaking Activities in Eglish NS, Term 2 and 3, 2020-2021

 

In terms of empathy and wellbeing, we have been continuing our morning ‘check-in circles in each class. Here, listening and the child’s voice are also evident as children share their energy level and a prompt question is used to elicit a conversation contribution from each child. Children lead this morning session which involves activities for physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Empathy and care for the environment is constantly being fostered, nurtured and shown. Junior and senior infants planted spinach, turnip and carrots in trays and egg cartons. Middle room planted potatoes and strawberries and Senior room have planted lettuce leaves and spinach.   On a daily basis students check the progress and look after these and other flowers etc growing in the polytunnel and sensory garden.  At break times, students, especially Junior Room students are always eager to help out Bernie, our SNA planting and weeding and have replanted flowers sown on Earth Day in September in the Sensory Garden.   On a daily basis, students continue to cook up creative culinary delights in our outdoor mud kitchen.

Students are actively involved in caring for our outdoor space and they frequently initiate cleaning up the school garden, pick up fallen branches, twigs, leaves etc… and put them in the outdoor composter. We continue to make good use of our new outdoor composter which encourages and fosters a caring spirit in our children to look after mother earth.    Middle Room students also creatively planted fairy gardens with Bernie, using old shoe boxes, germinated lupin seeds and planted them in pots. Our caretaker also helped us install 2 new bird boxes which help us to observe and care for our little garden friends. This has also increased our awareness of the breeds of birds that visit our school. The Middle Room and Senior Room students completed their period of’ Fresh Air Club’ sessions in the last 2 terms.

Senior Room students took responsibility for organizing a very successful ‘Easter Egg’ hunt for the other classes and for themselves showing leaderships and teamwork skills. Parents also helped out with sourcing the Easter Eggs. Student Voice and Leadership have featured hugely over the last 6 months. We were delighted and honoured that Senator Eileen Flynn could visit with us via Zoom in April. Our students had prepared questions for her and one of our students delivered a speech about what her culture means to her. Her visit can be viewed here https://youtu.be/KZbHs9yaIoo We made bookmarks to serve as a constant reminder for students of Senator Eileen Flynn’s visit and the important, inspiring messages she shared with us. Student voice, identity and agency were very much a feature of a collaboration between our school and our fellow changemaking school, Scoil Bhríde, Shantalla. We collaborated to organize and contribute to an online panel discussion on ‘Enabling and Empowering Pathways through Education and Beyond for Irish Travellers’, link here:   https://youtu.be/8jtTTtyunVg  which we held online on May 27th. The panelists comprised past pupils of Scoil Bhríde and Eglish NS and also other inspiring Irish Travellers and professionals working in the area of Traveller Supports, all very eager and willing to share their expertise, experience and inspiration in answering questions posed by students of our schools.

            Senior Room students demonstrated leadership by proposing the setting up of a ‘Creative Committee’ which has now been actualized by them where they engage students from other classes in dances and other movement activities. They selected representatives from the other classes to join the committee based on a speech they were given some time to prepare outlining the reasons why they should be on the committee. They have worked together, considering Covid 19 restrictions in collaborating to plan for activities for the other classes. The possibilities for this Committee are boundless right now in terms of creativity and teamwork. Students feel empowered knowing that their ideas and their voice have value and matter.

We had the opportunity to show and share our creativity during the Creative Schools’ Online Celebration Week in May. Part of the videos we submitted were used for this and here are some links https://youtu.be/22bb3_m9zDo and https://youtu.be/4rin8-84XLE.

Combining creativity with wellbeing, we have been dancing every day as a whole school, including our own ‘coronavirus dance’. We are discovering more and more benefits to this every day in terms, most obviously of physical wellbeing but also mental wellbeing, self-expression, language integration, memory, teaching and learning. Students in our Middle Room and Senior Room have been doing some yoga indoors and mainly outdoors. Following feedback from students and staff, we have invested in yoga mats for the school and also bluetooth speakers for each classroom to ensure that we have easy access to music at all times, wherever we are, indoors or out.

Senior Room students combined innovation with wellbeing in choosing and carrying out their ECO EUNESCO Young Environmentalist’s project: ‘How Trees Support our Wellbeing’. Students presented their project as a team online and were successful in reaching the final of the YEA (Young Environmentalists Award). It’s been a great learning experience and students plan to continue to spread the word about how trees support our wellbeing. A snapshot of our project can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/9b5wuvCceWI

To reinforce on a regular basis the changemaker pillars of Creativity, Empathy, Leadership and Teamwork, we continue to give our students ‘Changemaker taps’ when and where we observe them using these skills, which is very often. Some students have even suggested giving some staff members the taps too. Now, that’s empathy!