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Researchers in Schools Participants Discuss Training: Dr Dearbhla McGrath

The last three days of summer training have been a really enjoyable experience and it has been so beneficial to reconnect with my fellow RIS trainees. After a rewarding but somewhat gruelling year, it has been cathartic to catch up and see how everyone is getting on, to exchange stories, good and bad, and congratulate and console each other on the highs and lows of the past year.

The focus of our sessions this summer training has been meta cognition. I found these sessions truly interesting and inspiring and I have started to consider ideas for my subject enhancement project this year. One thing I really want to help my students develop is the confidence to have faith in their own ideas and to share them with their peers. I would also like to develop my students’ ability to reflect on their own work in a meaningful way, and to think about their strengths and weaknesses and what they need to do to improve.

My highlight of the year overall has definitely been teaching my Uni Pathways course. The students really engaged with the material, carried out independent research and produced excellent essays at the end of the course. I also had the chance to share some of their work during a whole school training day, which was a great way of showcasing the students’ excellent work, to clarify to my colleagues what the RIS objectives are and what my Uni Pathways course entailed. In general, my colleagues at Challney High School for Boys were extremely supportive of my work with the students and encouraged me every step of the way.

One thing that was invaluable to me throughout my training year was the support of my Department Head and mentor, Victoria Abbott. Her advice and guidance were crucial to my success. Without her on-going support I would not have thrived at Challney the way I did. I also found it helpful to have a previous RIS participant at my school. Dr Riccardo Porcari was a constant source of support, especially when it came to launching Uni Pathways in our school this year.

I am now looking forward to a new school year when I will have the opportunity to put into practice everything I have learned this year. I am excited about developing my subject enhancement course and working with my Uni Pathways students again. This has been a tough year and a steep learning curve but I am extremely proud of what my fellow RIS participants and I have accomplished!