Saturday, 29 July 2017

Dip Tips (updated)


(Updated: August 2017)

Hello there,

If you happen to be in a position to do your probationary year in Ireland or if you are just qualified, this may be of interest to you!

I am by no means an expert but this is some information and advice to give you the gist of how it runs going by my experience of doing the dip five years ago.

Happy reading!

Where do I begin?
Once you are qualified and eligible to do the dip, you need to go to the Limerick Education Centre website. In the "probationary teachers" section, you will find information about the Droichead and traditional processes for getting "dipped" there or on the Teaching Council website.

What do they expect from me?
Have a look at the Appendix 1 (page 24 of the PDF) of the "Post Qualification Professional Practice Procedures and Criteria 2016/2017" document from the Teaching Council website. This gives an overview of the criteria you are expected to meet in the following areas:
  • Planning, preparation and recording of progress
  • Classroom management and organisation
  • Quality of teaching across curriculum areas
  • Quality of pupils’ learning in curriculum areas
Have you read it? See! That's not so scary now after all! Remember, the dip is not teaching practice. You cannot possibly maintain all-singing, all-dancing TP-style lessons on a long-term basis. TP was a 100m sprint, the dip is a marathon. Take it handy! (I really wish I could go back in time and give myself that advice!) Obviously you will need to do what is required to ensure that the children are learning in a positive environment and that you are covering the national curriculum but make sure you pace yourself.

The National Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT)
As part of the traditional probationary process, you will be expected to complete the NIPT. This programme offers workshops with topics that are important for an NQT. They also give you an opportunity to meet others who are going through the probationary process. This is a plus for NQTs who are the only probationary teachers in their school.  Have a look at their website for lots of useful information and resources such as the planning toolkit, guidelines, planning templates for long-term plans, short-term plans, SEN planning, cuntais míosúla



What's next?
Now that you've applied to complete your probation, what can you do to prepare?

Get your planning in order: 
This is how I organised my paperwork. I had two folders divided into sections as follows:

(Again, remember to get guidelines and planning templates from teacherinduction.ie)

FOLDER 1: PLANNING FOLDER (with 5 sections)
1. Timetables (general class timetable, support teachers' timetables)
2. Current short-term (weekly) plans [Each weekend I would move these into section 3 and replace them with the new weekly plans]
3. Short-term plans (Weekly plans from past weeks, sub-divided by subject)
4. Long-term plans (termly plans)
5. Cuntais Míosúla (this is a monthly summary of what you have covered. You are legally required to do this. You should print one copy for this folder and send another to be filed in your school.)

FOLDER 2: ASSESSMENT FOLDER (2 sections)
1. General Class Records (e.g. MICRA/SIGMA results from the past year, any whole-group assessments, spelling test results, reading assessments and groups, etc.)
2. Pupil Profiles (sub-divided by child): IEPs, class tests, reading records, behaviour observation forms, carefully selected work samples, etc.

You can get some pretty editable or pre-made dip cover sheets in my TPT store for under a euro each!

When planning, make use of the fantastic online planning tool. It's much easier to copy and paste objectives from here than from the curriculum PDFs. If the INTO hasn't already sent you their 2017-2018 wall planner, you can download it for free from here.

Prepare your classroom:
A print-rich, inspiring classroom helps to create a positive learning environment. Refer to your classroom posters constantly. If you cannot do this, perhaps they are not as valuable as you may have thought! It's very likely that your inspector will ask the children about displays and posters. Make sure to display the children's work. A really useful way to display work is a wall like this - then you just peg up the work rather than fiddling with mountains of Blu-Tack! Obviously you will change displays according to topics on hand but here are some staples that could be of use all year around (click on each for an example to inspire you!):

General:
Number lines (age-specific)

Early primary specific:

Senior-specific:
Foghraíocht (pronunciation)

My favourite sources for display materials are:
Seomra Ranga (for resources as Gaeilge)
Sparklebox (especially for headings)


Have your children on board:
Get classroom management under control. It's very hard to teach anything if you cannot control the behaviour within the room. Try to strive for a balance where the children enjoy coming to school and are happy to share their ideas but that they treat you and their classmates respectfully. There are so many positive ways to go about this.

I used a token economy system during my dip year where they children got "Pirate Euro" notes for behaving well or really making an effort on a task. Together, we created a "rewards menu" and decided on appropriate prices. You can read about it here.

Currently I am using a clip chart system. You place all pegs on the middle section of the clip chart each morning and move them up or down according to their choices. Make your own, browse the net or have a look at the ones I have for sale here (in English and in Irish - people seem to have gone a bit crazy about the Star Wars ones this summer!).

Take up an after-school activity:
Do something that is not dip-related to avoid becoming a teaching-robot. Play sports, take up a new hobby or go for coffee/lunch dates (preferably with someone who does not want to listen to you ranting on about the dip!). Remember to keep a healthy work-life balance. Replacing an hour of tweaking resources (that were probably fine an hour ago) with an hour in the gym, an episode of Game of Thrones or a long bath will probably be of more benefit to you and your students. An energetic teacher with good planning and preparation is far more productive and happy than a zombie teacher with PERFECT resources. Now, if only I could turn back time and listen to my own advice a bit sooner!

Keep yourself in the know:
Regularly check sites such as the INTO, Teaching Council, NIPT as well as less formal sites like the Education Posts forum (great for finding answers to specific dip-related questions and crowd-sourcing ideas for themes, methodologies, etc.) and following teaching blogs. There are some fantastic Irish teaching pages you should add to your Facebook feed such as Anseo.net, Seomra RangaRéalta RangaMúinteoir Valerie, Ms. Forde's Classroom, Primary Art, Art with Ms. Lahart, Irish Primary Teacher, Infant Teaching Ideas, Claire's Primary School Art, Irish Primary PE association and the INTO LGBT Teachers' Group. (Sorry if I've forgotten anyone!)   

I hope this has been of use to you. I welcome all feedback via comments below.

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