Last year we witnessed a sea change in Junior Cert Business education. Teachers were faced with a whole new specification, a lot of new material and a demand for new approaches to teaching. When you also consider the lack of CPD for so many teachers it was without doubt a pretty unique and challenging year.
Part of my rationale for writing a blog was the direct benefit to myself and my teaching. I felt the reflective aspect would force me to evaluate my own work and performance. I also hoped to offer my colleagues an insight into my experience and provide some degree of empathy and reassurance as they tackled the new material. I am grateful for all the positive feedback which I received during the year. Teachers I encountered were generally supportive of my undertaking and were full of questions about the new specification. I think these are positive outcomes and I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who took the time to read the blog and express their positivity about it.
While my insight and information giving was certainly informal and ‘unofficial’ I was nonetheless pleased that it proved helpful and reassuring to many. We were all in the same boat last year and were all learning as we went along. This type of ‘learning by doing’ is difficult enough without having to operate in a dark vacuum, and needless to say mistakes were made…but it was good to know that others were making the same mistakes and were losing sleep over the same concerns. To paraphrase a well- known health promotion campaign, when it came to teaching the new Junior Cert Business specification it was indeed okay not to feel okay.
So having ‘successfully’ managed to navigate our way through a very dynamic period, is there any genuine expectation that this year will offer some respite?
Well, I don’t really expect that to be the case. I think there will be a lot more change this year, but at least some of it will be change for the better. Now that it will be possible for all teachers to receive CPD, there is the prospect of clarification and support. Doubtless it will raise issues and concerns for those teaching 2nd year classes. It will cause us to reflect critically on our work in 1st year and may involve validation or questioning of our efforts and effectiveness. It will certainly be an eye opener for those engaging with or teaching this new specification for the first time, but I feel it will be a positive development and will ultimately help us on our journey. It will hopefully fill that dark vacuum with both light and air.
The second ‘new’ element facing us this year is the Classroom Based Assessment (CBA). That is without doubt THE biggest worry for most of the teachers I have spoken to. It really does seem to be a big change and a very big concern. Hopefully our fears are unfounded, but implementing change is rarely without its problems. Doubtless I will have an opportunity to write about this issue in future posts, but for now, looking at the year ahead, CHANGE seems to be the only constant in all of this.
Having said that I remain positive about many of the changes and about the future. I am also taking strength from the successes achieved last year. These are interesting and challenging times for us and our students, but I for one like things to be interesting and enjoy a challenge. Let’s hope my positivity is not misguided.
For those who may not have seen them yet, the following websites provides a lot of very valuable information and will help with some of the issues mentioned above:
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