It is the end of my tenth week here in Nijmegen which means we are nearing the end of the ‘TET’ course and as one can imagine there are plenty of assignments to be done in the next few weeks.
For someone who is a ‘home bird’ and delights in getting home from Belfast at the weekends the thought of leaving home for four months was incredibly daunting. I must admit there were times I thought, would I ever last but I got on the plane and over 2 months on I can say it has been a great experience so far and I’m looking forward to making the most of the time that I have left here. Already I can say I have benefited immensely both personally and professionally through this experience. After completing five semesters at Stranmillis I feel like this has been the break I have needed. One could say that often the things that become familiar to us result in dullness and staleness after a period of time. Already I can say that I feel refreshed and am energised for returning to Stranmillis in September. With me I will be able to bring a new confidence to challenge ideas and contribute to discussions in seminar groups as well as new ideas and strategies for teaching. Reflecting on this I feel this mirrors what I have seen on school practice in the past. At times there are older teachers who have been in the profession for many years and year in year out they teach the same topics using the same methods and resources. In my opinion this indicates the importance of being refreshed as a teacher also whether it be taking new courses on offer, searching for new ideas and strategies for teaching, updating resources or speaking with other teachers. In any case as educators we want to endeavour to provide the best possible learning environment so that each individual is able to develop to their full potential.
Many of the classes we have completed here have overlapped with things I have done in Stranmillis but I have been able to see a new perspective on things and diverging methods of teaching which I will be able to draw upon in my future practice. We have been split into smaller groups for some classes, one of these being Problem Orientated Education. Personally this has been a very enriching class where each week we assess a new case study. These are centred around issues such as behaviour, bullying, special needs etc. There is a lecturer who oversees the class but it has been interesting to see that they give us the responsibility and they only contribute if they have something that adds to the discussion. These sessions have gone very well and with each individual contributing to the group we have been able to come up with solutions as to how to deal with these issues that can arise in any school. I feel I am more equipped and knowledgeable if I was to have to deal with some of these issues, which is inevitable at some point in my teaching career. As well as this I have come to see how effective it is when the teacher acts as a guide and support but the discussion is lead by the students. After having this personal experience this is something I would like to replicate and foster as a practitioner.
In all both the characteristics that I have developed as a person here in The Netherlands through my interactions with the Dutch people and our Erasmus class as well as the learning experiences I have had in university and on my school practice will benefit me greatly in my future career as a teacher. Through what I have learned, the strategies and methods I have acquired and my personal reflections on what I have seen, I feel I am more confident and able to provide an interactive and challenging learning environment using a range of strategies and resources that promotes effective learning. This is a key requirement and standard of professional competency according to the General Teaching Council of Northern Ireland.