Kildare and Wicklow ETB Newsletter Issue 10 Learn, Work, Live - Page 58

Creating Lightbulb Moments: EDISON at Piper’s Hill College

I recently asked myself what the EDISON Project is all about when I found myself with a fifteen minute slot to make my pitch about this Entrepreneurial Education initiative to staff at Pipers Hill College. I wanted to seize the opportunity to explain how integration of the EDISON Project could provide a framework for innovation in our school. Fifteen minutes was just what I needed to oitch the idea and plant a seed that would get people thinking about EDISON.

EDISON is all about changing attitudes and mind-sets and pushing us beyond what we think are our capabilities. If we are to help our students achieve this type of thinking, then, as teachers, we also need to examine our own mind-sets. Are we sitting comfortably in our own comfort zones and are we prepared to stretch ourselves and seek out opportunities to do things we have never done before? Are we modelling the behaviour we would like to see in our students? Pre- EDISON, I might have said it’s just not possible, or shied away from the notion, but fresh from my EDISON training, I felt empowered and I wanted to seize the opportunity and use it as a platform to get the project up and running in our school.

The EDISON Project is based on a European funded Leonardo da Vinci Transfer of Innovation project being rolled out across the ETB sector. EDISON stands for Educational Diversity and Innovation Skills ON Entrepreneurship, The goal of the project is to develop the entrepreneurial capacity of schools by focussing on developing the five core competences of entrepreneurial thinking, creativity, and ability to take risks, working collaboratively and developing persuasive communication styles.

Becoming an EDISON Champion

I was very fortunate to find myself enrolled in the EDISON training programme delivered by Joan Russell, Project Officer for Instructional Practices with ETBI, and her team. This was an intensive programme, delivered over four weekends, and finishing with the daunting task of delivering and EDISON plan for my own school in a business pitch, ‘Dragons’ Den’ style. This was a real baptism of fire, but great preparation and insight for what was to come.

The EDISON Projects’ roots in Instructional Leadership provided us with a lovely toolkit if innovative strategies to bring back to our respective schools. Most importantly, it offered us a blank canvas, together with the skills and confidence needed to develop a framework to drive innovation in our schools. I will tell you now about our journey with EDISON and how it has shaped processes at Piper’s Hill College.

The process has been highly experimental, and by no means perfect, but, through working on the development of growth mind-sets, we are all okay because this approach allowed us to cope with, and adapt to the challenges and possibilities that the project has brought.

In our school, we wanted to look at embedding entrepreneurial education across the curriculum. We felt that this was the best way to spread its influence an encourage uptake. This required a whole school approach, and necessitated the training of all staff members. To achieve this, we built an EDISON team, conducted an audit of existing skills within the staff team, and identified the right person to deliver innovative, ‘out of the box’ thinking through a series of EDISON workshops.

The Teaching and Learning Collaboratory

Leading to the delivery of workshops, we had to identify a way of training our facilitators and supporting thme to develop EDISON workshops for staff. We established the Teaching and Learning Collaboratory as a tool for sharing best practice at Piper’s Hill College. This has provided an opportunity to showcase how teachers have adapted EDISON methodologies to work in the context of their own subject areas. A major unexpected outcome has been the impact in terms of the evolution of a tool to drive and inform our school’s Teaching and Learning Policy.

Our Teaching and Learning Collaboratory publishes a fortnightly e-Newsletter to help build a sustained awareness campaign for EDISON. Through it we have also shared strategies for literacy and numeracy, 21st century skills, Edtech and classroom management. We have placed EDISON noticeboards in strategic locations around the school to give more visibility to the project too. This has helped to engage teachers and students, build awareness of EDISON and to generate discussion about the project.

Teacher Workshops

The school’s EDISON team has developed a series of innovative workshops designed to equip teachers with the skills and confidence to incorporate entrepreneurial strategies into their lessons, These have been focussed on the themes of Design Thinking; Creativity; Risk-taking; and Building Resilience, Grit and Innovation in the 21st Century Classroom.

It has been very encouraging to see teachers trying things out and taking the time to gather evidence from their lessons to share with others and to promote entrepreneurial education through the Teaching and Learning Collaboratory.

Seeing colleagues lifting the lid off their own practice with courage and sharing insights and strategies they have developed which might inspire others has been amazing to watch. It has demonstrated to us that the skills needed to provide relevant and cutting edge training in education are all present in our staffrooms, we just need to find ways to unlock these skills.

The EDISON Impact on Students

It is very important to acknowledge the impact and effects of the project on our students. They have been immersed in activities designed to develop their entrepreneurial capacity. We have delivered our first EDISON Sessions’ to our fifth year students, challenging them to develop growth mind-sets, take risks with creativity and to develop effective communication and leadership skills.

We are in the process of rebranding out TY science modules to incorporate an innovation strand. The aim of this is to try to get our students thinking about where their learning can take them if they apply it in innovative and creative ways. We are seeing growth in their ability to bounce back from set-backs and more willingness to take risks. This is very encouraging, even at this early stage.

We at Piper’s Hill College are at the beginning of our journey, and we recognise that many challenges lie ahead, but now that we are developing these skills, we have a framework to help us to find creative ways around these challenges. We have taken the leap and are well on our way to developing an entrepreneurial culture at our school through the EDISON Project.

Why not take yours and join us?

Emma Daniel