The NEST Project research was conducted in GMIT Letterfrack. For anyone who may be unfamiliar with GMIT Letterfrack, it is located in the West of Ireland, in Letterfrack village, Connemara. The campus is a Centre of Excellence for Wood Technology. The teaching degree (a BSc Hons, Degree Programme, Design & Technology Education) trains teachers for second level in the subjects of materials Technology (Wood), Technical Graphics, Construction Studies & Design and Communications Graphics.
NEST is a peer mentoring project for student teachers, in GMIT, Letterfrack;NEST voluntary leaders mentor peers, in the context of School Placement preparation;The term NEST is an acronym for:
Being a single case study- of GMIT Letterfrack- the sample pool was unavoidably small: a total of 39 participants in the academic year 2010-2011; and 42 this academic year. Leaders, who are volunteers, and who have successfully completed their first Teaching Practice mentor students who are preparing to go on School Placement for the first time.
Let us examine each in turn...
2010-2011: Traditional diary reflections and group reflections were facilitated by the module leader;2011-2012: Reflections are currently on the MOODLE forum:One reflection per week in response to the Module Leader question;Reflection of 500 words;Evidence of problem solving & reading (literature).
Action-Research: Integral to The NEST PROJECT is action-research based on the cycle of the academic year;Qualitative research methods are employed in NEST, given the small research pool (42 students);Individual interviews & focus groups were the methods adopted in Cycle One of Nest research (2010-2012), which is the focus of this current research paper and presentation.
An unexpected outcome of NEST was that students spontaneous employed a variety of technological tools for reflection purposes in the interests of efficiency, which in turn stimulated staff to engage in training in the field of educational technology - namely TEL.
As a postscript, since its pilot phase (2010-2011) a number of suggested recommendations identified in this research have been implemented, including: all Teaching Practice students are now given the opportunity to participate in the NEST project, which is formally timetabled; leaders are required to have a minimum of a 2.1 honours grade in Teaching Practice 1 to be eligible as mentors- a measure to secure quality assurance; the traditional diary method of reflection has been replaced by the flexible use of digital media, as agreed within NEST groups; further leadership training has been provided for NEST leaders by an expert in the field; Nest groups have replaced NEST pairs, allowing for greater flexibility and offsetting of potential personality clashes, and NEST reflections will be integrated more intentionally into Teaching Practice lesson plans (specifically the lesson rationale) and post lesson appraisals in the academic year 2011-2012.In response to this finding, GMIT management facilitated the integration of NEST into the official timetable in its second phase of action research (2011-2012) thereby mainstreaming the project. Students welcomed this development, as well as an integrated cross curricular approach to NEST spanning Teaching Practice and other education modules. The benefits of NEST were clearly identified by all parties; non leader participants highlighted the fact that they were gaining guidance and formative feedback from leaders whom they respected (being candidates that had successfully completed Teaching Practice previously), and leaders saw future potential career benefits in having obtaining training and practice in mentoring and leadership skills. Participants (particularly leaders) generally valued receipt of certification upon completion of the project, given that it was a non-accredited programme.
The NEST Project: An innovative approach to teacher training
Dr. Pauline Logue Collins Dr. Kate Dunne Dr. Angelika RauchImage 1
The NEST PROJECT researchers wish to thank: Mr. Dermot O Donovan, Head of Department, GMIT Letterfrack, for facilitating the NEST pilot research (2010- 2011) and for mainstreaming the NEST project (2011-2012); The Design and Technology Education Student Teachers, GMIT, Letterfrack, for their engagement with NEST action- research, and their constructive critique of NEST; Ms. Pauline Clancy, Counselling Services, GMIT, who provided NEST Leadership Training for NEST Leaders.
Facilitate meetings Work to targets Provide model samples Provide sample work Set targets for review Respond to feedback Critique work Produce a highly Provide feedback professional TP folder Encourage/challenge Liaise with leaders Motivate participants while on TP Facilitate reflection Reflect on learnings LEADERS PARTICIPANTS
The GMIT mentoring model isrooted in Lev Vygotsky’smodel of social constructivistteaching and learning: Scaffolding ZPD Modelling Image 3
LEADERS Provide support & solidarity Facilitate the management of learning ◦ Establish timelines ◦ Target setting ◦ Review progress ◦ Encourage & challenge ◦ Model best practice Motivate peer learners Image 4
Leaders are provided with Leadership Training by a trained facilitator; This training is further enhanced in parallel modules, which explicitly explore: ◦ Leadership styles ◦ Leadership theories ◦ Group dynamics ◦ Reflective Practice
NEST participants reflect on personal growth, learning, and challenges, in relation to the planning for School Placement. Image 5
NEST Leaders facilitate the professional development of peers in the areas of: Schemes of Work Lesson Plans Teaching Resources Teaching Methods Teaching Strategies Professional Portfolios
NEST leaders facilitate Teacher Competence in the areas of: Professional Resources Classroom Management Effective Teaching Tips Subject Specialist Support Reflective Practice Image 6
NEST NESTNURTURING EXCELLENCE IN STUDENT TEACHERS NURTURING EXCELLENCE IN STUDENT TEACHERS NEST is a Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) voluntary NEST is a Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) voluntary student-teacher training programme aimed at developing the skills of student-teacher training programme aimed at developing the skills of mentoring, leadership and reflective practice. mentoring, leadership and reflective practice. This is to certify that This is to certify that This is to certify that This is to certify that -------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------- has successfully completed a twelve week training programme as a has successfully completed a twelve week training programme as a has successfully completed a twelve week training programme as a has successfully completed a twelve week training programme as a NEST LEADER. NEST LEADER. NEST PARTICIPANT. NEST LEADER. Signed Date Signed Date .................................... .................................... .................................... .................................... Dr. Pauline Logue Collins Dr. Pauline Logue Collins Module Leader- Education Module Leader- Education LEADERS PARTICIPANTS
AIM: ◦ To establish the overall effectiveness and viability of the NEST project. OBJECTIVES: ◦ Critical assessment of the development of professional, peer mentoring, and leadership and reflective practice skills in all NEST participants; ◦ An analysis of the effectiveness of NEST reflective practice methods.
ACTION RESEARCHINDIVIDUAL FOCUSINTERVIEWS GROUPS
Forty individual questionnaires with NEST research participants, conducted both prior to and subsequent to their School Placement (January to February 2011); Two focus groups, post School Placement, 2011; one with NEST leaders and the other with non- leader participants.
MENTORING LEADERSHIP SKILLS SKILLS REFLECTIVEPROFESSIONALISM PRACTICE
NEST was considered to NEST requirements were have great future very time consuming; potential; The diary method of The majority of reflection proved participants benefited ineffective; significantly; Convening meetings The opportunity to while on School develop leadership & Placement was often mentoring skills was problematic; strongly appreciated; Some pairs were dysfunctional; Certification was NEST was seen to be considered useful for liminal within the Degree employment purposes. Programme. Benefits Challenges
Further development of NEST; Mainstreaming NEST- locating it within the official timetable & NEST reflections into lesson rationales; Restructuring NEST pairs into NEST groups, in order to maximize collaborative learning; Explore a variety of technological tools, to enhance NEST reflective practice & communications; ◦ Skype, Google+, Dropbox, e Mail, Instant Messaging, etc.
NEST photographic images by Angelika Rauch and Pauline Logue Collins, GMIT, 2010 -2011.
Image 1, Bird Nest, Suvro Datta, at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Birds_g52- Birds_Nest_p11568.html, accessed 1/09/11; Image 2, Mentoring, at http://www.officialtherefromhere.com/blog/2011/01/12/mentors- boomers-gen-x-and-gen-y-discuss-benefits-on-genychat-11211/, accessed 15/09/11; Image 3 Mentoring, at http://sixfigurementorsinsider.com/thesixfigurementors/why-you-need-a- mentor/, accessed 15/09/11; Image 4, Linked Hands, at http://raws.adc.rmit.edu.au/~s3326816/blog2/wp- content/uploads/2011/08/Linked_hands.jpg, accessed 17/09/11; Image 5 Reflective Journal, at http://www.open.ac.uk/skillsforstudy/keeping-a-reflective-learning- journal.php, accessed 15/09/11; Image 6 Image Technical drawing, at http://www.yourdictionary.com/dictionary-articles/Definition-of-Technical- Drawing.html, accessed 17/09/11