September 2012

Posted on September 7th, 2012 in * Principal's Blog ~ View from the Office window by Mr. Gately  Tagged

The Good Old Days?

“It’s not like when I was in school….”

How often do we hear a parent or grandparent say something like this. An odd time they are lamenting the “good old days”, but usually they realise that school is a far better place nowadays for all children. Some children still say they don’t really like school, but usually that is only because it interferes with the freedom that they have during holiday time. The vast majority of children are generally positive about school, most come to school willingly and, more importantly, children feel safe in school. In fact, occasionally school can offer the kind of stability and structure that can sadly be missing at home. Some adults might be shocked to hear that school is actually “fun”, now there’s a concept that would be very strange to our grandparents. With access to I-Pods, laptops, dance, music, sport, chess etc sure it’s a wonder everyone doesn’t want to go back to school. It’s certainly one of the reasons why I don’t want to leave anyway!

All of this does not mean that schools are perfect places where everyone goes around all day with beaming smiles; that kind of place does not exist on this earth and even if it did it would not prepare us for the real world outside. As I said, it is very important that children feel safe in school, but it also important that they learn to deal with the real life situations they meet that call for common sense, kindness, understanding, courage and self-belief. As well as the ordinary curriculum schools actually teach all these things  through subjects like Religion, SPHE and English, but sometimes children have to learn these lessons for themselves when dealing with difficult situations that crop up from time to time. It is so important for children and adults to learn how to deal with conflict, how to stand up for themselves and how to be understanding of other persons’ points of view.

In our school we teach the S.A.L.T programme which presents children with real life situations and then gives them the skills to try to deal with the issue. It gives them practical ways and words to deal with awkward situations. However the overall message is always that children should seek support or help from a responsible adult if their own efforts fail or if they feel frightened or intimidated.

Children nowadays are much more likely to stand up to others (either other children or adults) and have the confidence and the vocabulary to express their feelings clearly. This is again partly due to excellent programmes taught in schools. That does not mean that bullying does not occur, but children recognise it, can name it and hopefully know how to deal with it.

I hope many people got to see the excellent TV programme recently on life in our neighbouring school in Coolcotts. Watching it I was struck by how similar most schools are. The ones I know are trying their best to meet the needs of a huge variety of children, in an ever-changing world and with cutbacks regularly on the horizon. Are all schools the same? No, each one has its own ethos, its own positives and its own negatives; in general they are trying to make a difference to every child in their care, while making sure that those same children are safe and happy. That can be a tall order at times.  So the next time your child comes home complaining about the school or a particular teacher (or principal), listen to them, reassure them, but don’t jump to conclusions. Talk to the teacher in an open manner and you might be surprised with the positive outcome you can achieve together.

Summer Holiday Advice

Posted on August 21st, 2010 in * Principal's Blog ~ View from the Office window by Mr. Gately  Tagged

Help The  Summer Holidays are Here!!! 

 

Many parents wonder should they get their children to do some “school work” during the holidays. There is no hard and fast rule, but whatever you do don’t call it “school work” or “study”. It should also be as relaxed as possible, pressurising a child into reading or similar activities will only make her/him look at it in a negative light.

 

Reading is obviously a great advantage to any child at any time. It is not that important what they read as long as it is appropriate to their age. Try to find subjects that the child is interested in and discuss the content with them in a relaxed manner (don’t ask loads of questions). For younger children getting them to read signs as you go on a journey or look out for certain letters or words can be fun and also help to pass a journey more quickly. When in a shop or restaurant there are lots of opportunities to encourage children to practise their reading.

 

Maths: Mathematics is not just about “sums”, it can also include shape, colour, size, comparing things and very importantly predicting. A simple example is to get a child to count the number of cars that you meet in 2 minutes on a journey. Then ask them to predict how many they think they will meet in the next 10 minutes. Car registration plates are a great source of number facts and combinations. Again it needs to be fun.

 

Irish: Gaeilge is all around us and even if you don’t have much/any yourself your child can really enjoy teaching you and at the same time practising their own “cúpla focail”.

 

Other Subjects: “Discovery Learning” is all the rage now.  Basically this involves the child finding out information by themselves or by questioning others. The most successful lessons occur without the child realising that he/she is learning at all.

 

The last and most important piece of advice is to ensure that your child gets lots of fresh air and some regular exercise, this will stimulate the brain better than anything else.

A Principal’s Day

Posted on August 21st, 2010 in * Principal's Blog ~ View from the Office window by Mr. Gately  Tagged

Typical Day.

Pupils and parents (and maybe some staff!!) might wonder what I do all day. This is a sample of a typical day: mind you, there is no such thing as a typical day and that’s one of the reasons why I love this job….

 

8.30am- I usually arrive in school with my daughter Laoise, after dropping my 2 older children to Secondary School. Stephen (our caretaker) lets me in the gate and there are already several cars belonging to staff members in the carpark.

 

8.40am – As laoise starts another countdown calendar on my whiteboard I set up my lifeline (aka the computer) and check with the real boss (Lorraine, our secretary) for any messages or appointments.

 

8.50am- I might take a stroll around the classes to say “Dia Daoibh” to the early arrivals. Ms. Galligan and Ms. Woodbyrne are on duty and we exchange the latest news or a bit of gossip.

 

9.00am. The bell rings and everyone makes a mad dash to their classes (really!). Ah peace and quiet 🙂 for about 10 minutes.

 

9.30am- The next 30 mins is taken up with making phone calls and returning calls from the previous day.

 

10.00- Lorraine drops in the post and I sort it into 3 bundles: Junk (shredded for recycling), Not Urgent (might get to this later) and Urgent(needs to be answered/filed.) Bear with me this is the boring part.

 

10.25- I go to the intercom and make a few announcements, partly in English and the rest “as Gaeilge” eg. 1. The children will be going out at break-time. 2.Congratulations to X from 5th. class for winning a prize in an art competition. 3. Room 2 and Room 11 had the best lines from the yard last week, “maith sibh”.

 

10.35- Time for my daily banana and a chance to catch up on the social lives of our teachers.

 

10.40- Stroll out to the corridor to meet the classes coming in from the yard. Lots of greetings from the younger children in particular (” My dad is taller than you Mr. Gately”. “Look, I lost a tooth yesterday”. “Mr. Gately……. can you come and fix the toilet in our class?”

 

11.00- Call to 6th. classes to see how preparation for Confirmation is going. As usual all is well in hand and I get a chance to admire some beautiful art work.

 

11.30-Stephen needs to fix a light in a classroom so we haul up the ladder and sort it out.

 

12.00- Time to catch up on a bit of paperwork.

 

12.10-Lunch-time, yipee!

 

12.35- X falls on the yard and Lorraine, Ms. Doran and I examine a bump on the head. We decide to ring home, just in case.

 

12.45- Lorraine takes a well deserved break and I man the office. This often involves answering the phone 5 times and the door 4 times in a few minutes. It also usually means doing some photocopying for a teacher and signing for a delivery. Then the message I dread arrives..”Z has gotten sick in the toilet, so it needs to be cleaned up”. Help!! Stephen.

 

1.15 Thank God Lorraine is back.

 

1.30 Meeting the builder to discuss our plans to install a “Rainwater Recycling” system in the school.

 

2.00 By now the infants have gone home so I have a quick chat with some of their teachers about what’s happening in the classes.

 

2.30 More phone-calls and a few e-mails.

 

3.00 If I am not taking football this is the best time to meet parents/teachers/sales reps/visitors and also catch up on some more paperwork. At least once a week Ms. Woodbyrne and I will meet after school to discuss the latest issues in the school. By now I’m starving and if I’m feeling good I grab an apple, if not, I might sneak a bit of chocolate from my secret stache.

 

3.50 At this stage I am trying to get away. I bring my laptop to catch up on some more work later.

 

8.00I may be back later for a Board of Management/Parents’ Council/Communion/Confirmation meeting. If not, then its feet up and I try to finally make sense of another episode of Lost.

 

As I said earlier, it is very busy most days, but  exciting and rewarding. I may have a few extra grey hairs every month when I go for my 3 blade, but I can’t think of many better jobs( except maybe working as a chocolate taster for Cadburys!).