WITH the extension of the Transition Year programme, a new model of inservice for teachers was born. Initially, inservice for Transition Year teachers was provided by a core group of 68 trainers teachers specially trained to operate as trainers. A full time support team of four teachers, drawn from the group of trainers, was set up last year.
The establishment of a support unit of this type, with experienced teachers providing ongoing support to other teachers, is a new initiative from the Department of Education.
Dermot Quish of the support team explains that the traditional model of in service training for teachers was to provide training and then to leave teachers with little or no follow up. "This is different. This is about ongoing support systems. We act as an agency that is available all during the year to teachers and principals."
In November last year, the support team was joined by a network of 10 regional co ordinators. Gerry Jeffers of the support team says that "the regional co ordinators provide support to individual schools. They also coordinate meetings in the region and have organised a number of workshops dealing with specific topics."
Jeffers stresses the flexibility of the service provided. "There are three main kinds of intervention we tend to make. The first is to spend time with the principal and the Transition Year co ordinator and look in detail at the written program me. The inspectors' evaluation of the Transition Year, which was published in mid February, has sharpened our focus as to what the issues are.
"ANOTHER model is making ourselves available for a morning or a day to meet individual teachers during their free periods. The third type of intervention is to meet the whole staff to discuss the whole programme or, perhaps, specific parts."
A database of all resources available to teachers is being compiled by the support team. Materials are evaluated on the basis of readability, presentation, methodology and value for money. Project ideas, competitions and awards are also compiled. A newsletter produced by the unit keeps Transition Year co ordinators up to date on developments. The unit also operates a telephone helpline for teachers.
The Transition Year support team and the 10 regional co ordinators are seconded from their schools for the present school year. The unit was set up as a one year initiative but it is understood that it will continue into next year.