Being in the middle of a global pandemic which seems to be affecting every aspect of our “normal” society can be a bit overwhelming. Especially for our students in NCC. Their routine of school, their relationships, their interactions and their learning have literally been turned upside down. The transition onto the online remote learning was a new experience for all but I feel we have tried our best over this difficult time. Both teachers and students have been pushed beyond their comfort zone in order to keep up with our Teaching and Learning experiences.
Over the period of 2 weeks, Myself and 4 students participated in a series of reflective sessions with leadership themes at the centre. The organisation that delivered the online sessions is called LIFT which stands for “Leading Ireland’s Future Together”. This group is a nationwide initiative to help the people of Ireland reflect on some key themes of leadership through a reflective model for the benefit of the person who is completing them but also for the organisations and communities that we find ourselves in. We completed the course through their specially catered educational program over the course of 2 weeks after Easter.
Val O’Gorman, LIFT’s education facilitator ran the program with us, and we covered 4 themes – Listening, Positive attitude, Innovation and adaptability and Empathy and understanding. All four of the themes were very different but highlighted the leadership focus on each of them in the context of our own lives. The process allowed us to evaluate our own individual emotional intelligence in direct connection to the specific themes. This allowed the students to immerse themselves in a reflective experience so they could evaluate themselves on how effective they were in relation to the themes on personal level but also in relation through the leadership lens.
The model that LIFT uses allows all members of the group sessions to interact with the content both in a comfortable group situation but also on a deep thoughtful analysis of oneself. These sessions were carried out through video conference calls via Zoom and it followed the same steps that we had experienced in our facilitator training for the program back in January. Our aim is to be able to roll out this program ourselves with our senior students running the program with our younger cohort of students. I find this helps my own positive mindset on a personal and professional level with my interactions with others and my ability to carry out my own leadership roles in my own life. The LIFT program really highlights the importance of being able to build strong relationships with others in order to succeed and work effectively with others in a team situation. Effective relationships are at the core of education and as a teacher you need to recognise and engage in specific emotions and perspectives in order to walk alongside your students.
It was a pleasure to carry out these roundtable sessions with 4 of my students as an equal and to participate alongside them. Leadership isn’t just about older and most senior individuals running the show. This was the perfect opportunity to showcase the strength of our inspirational younger generations and allow them to develop their own sense of leadership for their own personal development both in the present but also in the future. I was impressed by their dedication and attentive engagement with the sessions and I look forward to seeing how they use these new themes and lessons in their own unique pathway in the years ahead. Pleasure to have joined them in the roundtables. LIFT offer these reflective roundtables to anyone in the public and it’s not just for the educational field. Further information can be found on https://liftireland.ie/. Their 10 year plan hopes to try and get 10% of the country involved. If you’re interested, why not join in on a session and see where it takes you.
Please find below statements from our 4 students who participated in the online sessions. Ellie, Leanne and Mutiat and Lucy are all senior students who volunteered themselves based on their interest of the program:
My LiFT Experience
“I really enjoyed participating in the Lift round tables. Out of the themes that were selected (resilience, Listening, empathy and understanding, innovation and adaptability, and positive attitude), my favourite was positive attitude. The round tables allowed me to not only work on my strengths, but to also work on my weaknesses and made me reflect on how I can be a better leader. I would strongly encourage anyone to take part, whether you are a student, teacher...regardless your age. It just takes 45 minutes of your time. I’m so honoured and glad to have been part of this great experience”
Mutiat Adebayo (5th Year)
“Over the last few weeks I have taken part in the online LIFT round table with Ms Piare and some other students from my school. I loved every moment of this experience. It was a really great way to take my mind off the current pandemic and reflect on myself. These round tables are such a safe space to talk and are so enjoyable. We also had a good laugh about planning a LIFT weekend in Kerry and the A team. Thank you to LIFT Ireland and Ms Piare for planning for organising this round table”
Lucy Byrne ( Transition Year )
I found the 2 week LIFT round table really helpful and refreshing. Not only was it well run, even through Zoom calls, but it was a great way of reflecting on my own experiences, especially during these unpredicted times. I definitely learnt a lot about how to handle difficult situations, be more empathetic and understanding and I find that everyday I am using skills that I learned from the video calls. The one thing that I think I’ve been using the most is “Listen to understand, not to respond”. This has definitely aided me in becoming a better Listener.
Leanne Gavin ( 5th Year)
“I completed a Lift Leadership roundtable during quarantine. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I learned a lot. The program lasted 4 days in total and each day we covered a different topic. These topics consisted of listening, positive attitude, empathy and understanding and finally respect. Personally, I enjoyed empathy and understanding module the most as it taught me a lot about interactions with others. I learned what my strengths and weaknesses were and how to improve in general. I was surprised to find that I was very weak in somethings that I would of assumed I was strong in. I found that the timing was perfect as it served as a break from the hectic environment we are all currently in. It was also very nice to get to talk to others at the same time. It wasn’t very time consuming (only 1 hour per roundtable), we did 4 roundtables in the space of 3 weeks. I always looked forward towards the next roundtable as it was a nice break and I learned lots. I really enjoyed my experience and would recommend to everyone to complete some lift roundtables.”
Ellie Murphy (5th Year)