Feed on

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

This week I bring you an interview with the new Chief Executive Officer of Educate Together, Dr. Emer Nowlan in the week she takes up her new appointment. Among the topics we discuss are:

  • Her career in education to date: becoming a PE teacher, running a language school in Portugal
  • Doing a masters and doctorate in UCD
  • Being project manager for setting up second level Educate Together schools
  • Working on the Migrant Teacher Project
  • Challenges faced by migrant teachers who wish to teach in Ireland
  • Lessons learned from the Migrant Teacher Project to date
  • Anticipating her new role as CEO of Educate Together
  • Plans for establishing new Educate Together schools
  • How Educate Together has evolved over the last 40 years
  • What equality-based education looks like
  • How to promote equality-based education without stereotyping
  • Educate Together’s role as school patron
  • Enrolment policies for schools
  • The work of CEO in Educate Together
  • Her priorities for her term as CEO
  • Challenges facing the Educate Together sector
  • Characteristics of a principal in an Educate Together school
  • Facilitating denominational religious instruction in Educate Together Schools

She names some people whose work she admires.


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's podcast I speak to Professor Paola Valero from Stockholm University about the political aspects of teaching in general and of teaching mathematics in particular. Professor Valero was in Ireland as a keynote speaker at the 2019 Mathematics Education in Ireland conference, which was held in Dublin City University in October.

This podcast will be of interest to anyone who likes to stand back from their teaching and think about the why, what and how of their work. Among the topics we discuss in the podcast are:

  • The difference between teacher knowledge and researcher knowledge and why both need to work together
  • Responsibilities of researchers (in education)
  • Relevance of her work on the politics of mathematics education for teachers
  • Why teachers’ work is inevitably political, whether or not that is acknowledged
  • How can teachers become more aware of their political stance (from 12’06”)
  • What it means to be a teacher-intellectual
  • What is political specifically in mathematics education
    • Working with powerful and empowering knowledge
    • It is a desired area of competence/it is highly valued
    • Mathematics is widely assessed
  • A brief history of how the status of mathematics in schools evolved
  • How less was expected of girls in mathematics education
  • The experience of learning mathematics for immigrants and people with disabilities
  • How teachers can respond to the political nature of mathematics

She recommended the work of Ole Skovsmose and in particular the chapter he co-wrote with Lene Nielsen, Critical Mathematics Education.

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's podcast I am joined by author Dave Rudden who created the Knights of the Borrowed Dark trilogy. Dave talks about his own writing, about teaching writing to adults and children and he discusses the bullying that was a feature of his life in post-primary school. The specific topics discussed on the podcast are:

  • How he began writing Knights of the Borrowed Dark as a college assignment
  • The premise of the series
  • Who the audience for the books is
  • His experience in the classroom and what attracts him to writing
  • His school visits
  • His writing practice
  • How he learned to write and what teachers can do to help children learn to write
  • Getting into drama and theatre to overcome shyness
  • Getting into live storytelling in Dublin and moving onto writing short stories and then to a Masters in Creative Writing
  • Why Terry Pratchett is a role model
  • He also likes Irish authors Sarah Maria Griffin, Deirdre Sullivan, Catherine Doyle.
  • The benefits of doing a masters course in creative writing
  • Why you don’t have to do a masters course to be a successful writer
  • Differences in teaching writing to children and adults
  • How teachers can teach children to write
  • Explaining why words are weapons, writing is a muscle, and you don’t have to get it right first time
  • The recipe for a character
  • The recipe for a plot
  • Stretch Goals
  • What schools are for
  • How teachers can support children who experience bullying
  • A teacher who had a significant impact on him
  • Who or what inspires him
  • A favourite book or writer or blog about writing: Chuck Wendig, On Writing by Stephen King
  • Neil Gaiman’s Commencement Speech: Make Good Art

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

This week's podcast is a solo episode in which I riff on the topic of homework. Your feedback and thoughts on the topic and on the podcast are welcome as always.

Among the topics mentioned on the podcast are the following:

  • Is time spent on school homework a good return on investment?
  • Overview of podcast
  • Why teachers give homework
  • The Goldilocks principle and setting tasks for students, both in class and for homework
  • Why research on homework can be problematic
  • Lessons from research that can help children benefit from doing homework
  • The “Matthew Effect” in homework
  • Acquiring the habit of doing homework
  • Image of rider, elephant and path from the books Switch and The Happiness Hypothesis. I also drew on ideas from Atomic Habits in the podcast.
  • Questions to ask your child about homework
  • Teaching your child strategies for doing homework
  • How teachers can make homework more interesting for children
  • When parents and teachers provide contradictory information for children
  • Study strategies teachers can teach children


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's podcast I bring you interviews from students, teachers and organisers who attended the National Finals of Scifest 2019 in Marino Institute of Education on Friday, 22 November. Among the guests I speak to are the following:

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's programme I bring you an interview with Liam Murray who is secretary of Ficheall, a network of teachers around Ireland who teach chess in primary school. Among the topics discussed and the resources mentioned are the following:

  • Is chess a curricular or extra-curricular activity?
  • What students learn from playing chess: developing their social, cognitive and mental fitness skills
  • How he organises chess teaching in his own classroom, using the lesson plans on the website and adopting a “(mini-) game-based” approach
  • Organising a school chess tournament
  • Helping students lose and win gracefully
  • Using a points system to decide who wins a game of chess with limited time to play
  • Describing the game of chess (what is meant by checkmate and castling?)
  • History of the game
  • How chess compares to draughts
  • How children respond to playing chess
  • How Liam first became involved in teaching chess in schools when he was a student teaher
  • How different children respond to learning or playing chess
  • Playing face to face versus playing on apps or computers
  • Children getting better at chess over time
  • The “Masters” competition (for fifth and sixth class) and the “Budding Masters” competition (for third and fourth class).
  • Children playing chess from first class onwards
  • Why it’s good to play chess with players who are better than you (“If you’re not losing, you’re not learning”)
  • Resources available on the Ficheall website
  • The Ficheall network of teachers
  • How inter-school chess tournaments are organised (the “Swiss System, ” timing games)
  • The role of chess arbiters in inter-school tournaments
  • Relationship of Ficheall to Moves for Life
  • How Liam got interested in chess himself
  • Follow-on opportunities for children to play chess
  • Opportunities for playing chess in post primary schools (Leinster Schools Chess Association)
  • The use of clocks in professional chess games
  • What is school for/what are schools for
  • Volunteering with Graham Jones and the Solas Project
  • How he is inspired by the selfless dedication of teachers
  • Evidence-Based Teachers’ Network
  • Anseo podcasts
  • Book Bounce by Matthew Syed.
  • Book Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed.
  • Book Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's podcast I speak to Professor Nell Duke from the University of Michigan School of Education about literacy education and project-based instruction. Professor Duke was a keynote speaker at the 43rd Annual Conference of the Literacy Association of Ireland. Among the wide range of topics we discuss on the podcast and the resources mentioned are the following:  

  • The role of project-based literacy in promoting reading and writing development
  • The importance of purpose and audience for children’s writing
  • Sources of project ideas: Edutopia, PBL works, Nell’s website
  • Identifying sources of project in local communities
  • Incorporating student voice and choice into projects
  • Teacher preparation to design the flow of a project work with students
  • Nell’s website – Inside Information Downloadables
  • The importance of audience beyond teachers, parents and grandparents
  • Working alone versus working in groups on projects
  • At what age can children begin to work on project-based literacy?
  • The ideal duration of a project
  • The balance of literacy goals and cross-curricular goals in project-based literacy instruction
  • Educating children from an early age about trustworthy sources. The use of the mnemonic WWWDOT (Who? Why? When? Does it meet my needs? Organisation of site/text? To Do List for future)
  • Molly of Denali
  • Helping students move beyond bland responses to peers’ work
  • Various templates mentioned available here.
  • Why reading is so hard for many students to master
  • The DRIVE model of reading (Deploying Reading in Varied Environments)
  • The value of teaching sound-letter relationships; deliberately teaching phonics, morphology and text structure
  • Gaps between research on reading instruction and the practice of reading instruction
  • Reliable sources of research evidence for teachers: Institute of Education Sciences What Works Clearinghouse; Practice guides.
  • Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators General Education Leadership Network Early Literacy Task Force and Literacy Essentials.
  • International Literacy Association.
  • Literacy Association of Ireland.
  • Responding to differences among students in a literacy classroom: small group literacy instruction
  • Why it’s important to teach reading and writing together. See work by Gram and Hebert (2010).
  • What parents can do in the home to promote literacy achievement
  • What a typical working day is like for her and how she manages her time
  • Knowing what not to do in teaching
  • Not this but that book series.
  • What schools are for
  • She loves reading: Reading Research Quarterly (Journal of the International Literacy Association), Scientific Studies of Reading, Review of Educational Research.

In her keynote address Nell referred to the following websites, which were not mentioned in the podcast. I'm listing them here because they may be of help to some listeners.

High Quality Project Based Learning

Pow+Tree Writing Strategy

She also referred to this article which was a meta-analysis of process writing.


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

This week on the podcast I speak to Michael Moriarty, who has been leading in education and other sectors for a number of decades, as a teacher, a principal, Head of Education and Training Boards Ireland and as CEO of a local radio station. His new book, Every Leader's Reality Guide: Strategies to Release Your True Leadership Potential has been released and it distills the lessons about leading that Michael learned through mentorship, training and self-reflection on his various roles. Among the topics we discuss on the podcast are the following:

  • How leadership begins with self-awareness and self-reflection.
  • How leadership in education differs to other leadership roles
  • The source of authority
  • How he looked to leaders he admired for inspiration
  • Power comes from respect rather than position
  • His experience of being bullied in post-primary school and how he learned the importance of standing up for himself
  • Being isolated in his professional role
  • The importance of allies and alliances
  • Building a media profile
  • Establishing credibility as a leader and the ability to communicate
  • The importance of having mentors
  • How a leader shows they value people
  • Reading leadership books and biographies (e.g. Boris Johnson’s book on Churchill)
  • Leadership and influence
  • The stance he took in a job interview for a leadership position
  • Why you should hire people who are better than you
  • Why leaders need to be able to say “sorry”
  • Learning leadership through union politics
  • How he came to head up a radio station
  • His ongoing pursuit of challenges in his work

Michael mentioned a number of inspirational resources during the interview, including the following:


Senator Ted Kennedy’s 1980 Convention speech

Stephen R. Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Dale Carnegie How to Win Friends and Influence People

John C Maxwell Talent is Never Enough

Search for the Hero by M People

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's Inside Education I bring you another chance to meet with Jane Shimizu where she tells us about her participation in Science on Stage over the midterm break. We also discuss the participation of her class in the Scoil Féile Drámaíochta. From research I bring some insights around education and sleep following my reading of Matthew Walker's book, Why We Sleep.

Among the topics I discuss with Jane Shimizu are the following:

  • Her participation in the Science on Stage Festival this week in Portugal, representing Irish teachers.
  • Getting children interested in science through space using projectiles and rockets
  • How she makes mouse, toilet roll, air, straw and foam projectiles with her class
  • The science and maths that can be based around foam projectiles
  • Making predictions and recording answers to questions
  • Using controls and the importance of fair tests
  • How she times activities to coincide with Space Week.
  • Sharing work with other classes and hosting a space display day for parents.
  • Structuring lessons around projectiles and rockets and how they provide integration opportunities with several other curriculum subjects.
  • What happens when questions arise to which she does not know the answer.
  • Online resources: https://www.dltk-teach.com/, https://www.safesearchkids.com/.
  • Her school’s website. Here are some of the links Jane recommended.
  • Recommended sources for ideas and materials for teaching about space and science from ESERO and Science Foundation Ireland.
  • Her class, which is in a school serving an area traditionally associated with disadvantage, participates in An Féile Scoildrámaíochta by entering a musical each year. Because many of the available scripts are intended for students in Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht schools, Jane writes her own scripts for her class.
  • How she prepares the class during the school year for staging the musical

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's podcast I discuss several matters related to teacher education with Professor Ian Menter from Oxford University's Department of Education. The topics we discuss are the following:

  • The Teacher Education Groups study of teacher education policy across the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.
  • How England is an outlier in attempts to weaken the link between universities and schools in teacher education.
  • Work he’s doing in Ireland with the National Institute for Studies in Education (NISE) based on collaboration across the three teacher education institutions based there.
  • His overview of developments in teacher education across the five nations.
  • The Teach First model of teacher education and its impact on the wider system.
  • Teacher retention and teacher burn-out
  • Evidence-based Teaching: Trials conducted by the Educational Endowment Foundation. The work of the Chartered College of Teaching in England, which has a remit similar to that of Teaching Councils elsewhere; its CEO, Alison Peacock, is committed to evidence-based teaching.
  • How teachers can develop research literacy through their initial teacher education courses and through continuing professional development that is oriented towards evidence-based inquiry.
  • A tendency for post-holders in schools to be “research leads” – people who overview what is happening in school in terms of research and development, who seek outside research that could inform practice and who liaise with universities on research. In some cases there may be research committees in schools.
  • How these ideas can be traced back to the writings of John Dewey and Lawrence Stenhouse – the latter was writing about the “teacher as researcher” in 1975.
  • An increased range of publications now in which research is published for a teacher readership.
  • The need to fund longitudinal research studies into how teachers learn teaching and independent, large-scale studies into teaching and teacher education to inform practice and policy.
  • Envisages greater interaction between the practice, policy and research communities
  • Teachers as researchers
  • Economic (preparing for the workforce), citizenship (engage in community and political system) and cultural (ideas, history to have a sense of the meaning of the world around us) have been the historical purposes of education. Different forces operate behind each of the aims and the balance among them can vary.
  • Research training schools in Finland, linked to universities could be explored more systematically elsewhere.
  • Teacher as a researcher v teacher as a reflective practitioner: Phases on a four-point continuum:
    • Effective teacher
    • Reflective teacher
    • Inquiring teacher and
    • Transformative teacher
  • The kind of initial preparation needed for future primary teachers
  • Difficulties in assessing a student teacher’s preparedness for success in the classroom.
  • Comparison between difficulties in evaluating a teacher’s potential and evaluating potential elite players in sports.
  • His views on having common standards for teachers – benefits and limitations
  • How he came to begin his career as a primary school teacher – the intellectual, emotional and personal challenges of teaching
  • Making the transition from being a teacher to being a teacher educator
  • What schools are for (and not for)
  • A teacher who had a significant impact on him
  • Favourite writers on education: C Wright Mills The Sociological Imagination, which is about the relationship between personal experience and problems in society. Paolo Freire on education for liberation and education for democracy.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »