Today we have a guest post by Irene Goldrick, a teacher at Blackrock Further Education Institute, who participated in a five day, fully funded, Erasmus+ CDP course in Malaga, Spain last month.
Around 1pm on Sunday 19th March, eight BFEI (Blackrock Further Education Institute) teachers gathered in Dublin airport in an atmosphere of anticipation, excitement, and a little trepidation prior to our flight to Malaga, Spain for five days of CPD (Continuing Professional Development). The CPD was fully funded through the Erasmus+ programme coordinated by Leargas. Landing around 8pm we were collected and brought to our amazing accommodation on Calle Constancia and unpacked. Shortly after we headed out on foot to explore, get out bearings and attend to our rumbling tummies!
An early start on Monday to ensure we arrived on time at our training centre. En route we found a delightful bakery – Pasteleria La Canasta, this was to become our regular spot for breakfast, where we could enjoy a Malaga delicacy – the “torta loco” a custard-based pastry. Fortified with our café con leche and a substantial amount of carbs we went to meet our wonderful facilitator, Nicole, in Innovation Campus, Malaga Urban Technopole on Calle Carretería. A beautiful, period building, thoughtfully renovated, setting the tone for what would be a stimulating, yet mentally challenging five days of professional development.
Our first day focused on Mindfulness – the practice of being present in the moment, which in turn trains us to become more mindful throughout the day, particularly during demanding situations. All of us felt this practice would be hugely beneficial in a teaching environment. To wind down after, some of the group opted for a quick dip in the Mediterranean Sea whilst others opted for a relaxing walk along the beach.
Up early and off to Innovation Campus. Today our focus would be on developing our Leadership skills. Again, through Nicole’s skilled facilitation we explored the characteristics of a good leader and identified in ourselves our leadership qualities and how we might apply these skills in a professional context. This session was particularly insightful and helped to awaken and develop our leadership qualities.
After an intensive morning, it was time to relax and explore some of the rich historical sites in Malaga. The amazing Castillo de Gibralfaro sits on a hill overlooking Malaga port dating back to the 10th century. The castle is famous for its three-month siege by the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, which ended only when hunger forced the Malagueños to surrender.
Rested and refreshed, Conflict Resolution was the theme for day 3 of the training. A welcome development brought the arrival of some Italian colleagues from a school in Rome to join our session. Our warm and friendly Italian colleagues brought an interesting and insightful understanding of how culture, language and traditions can affect how we approach conflict resolution.
A stunning day in Malaga, the Irish delegates opted in the afternoon for a wonderful boat ride to take in the fresh air, sun and beautiful coastal scenery. As a group, we reflected on how Malaga looked very different from a coastal aspect. This paralleled with the day’s learnings from Conflict Resolution – we need to take time to reflect on how perspective on an issue can be very different, depending on the viewpoint.
Our fourth training session took a deeper dive into Conflict Resolution – this culminated in a role play where diametrically opposed sides sort to resolve the conflict by understanding each other’s needs. Facilitating the process, Nicole gave us a greater understanding of Marshal Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication (NVC). Rosenberg developed NVC in the 1960s as a tool to implement the desegregation of schools in the United States. The key tenet of this approach is to help people connect with their own humanity and that of others respectfully, compassionately, and peacefully.
This was quite an intensive session, and all later welcomed some cultural relief by viewing the Cathedral of Malaga, a magnificent building styled on renaissance architecture. Close by the Museo Picasso. A debate ensued as to those who favoured Picasso’s modernistic artistic approach or “Cubism” and those that favoured impressionism. What better way to put Conflict Resolution into practice!! To conclude the evening, one thing that we all agreed on was the superb Flamenco concert. An enriching display of Spanish dancing, singing and guitar playing that brought clapping and smiling in unison.
Up earlier than usual to pack and check out. Today’s session focused on Decision Making, this challenged us to reflect on our decision-making approaches and to consider our needs and feelings but also the needs and feelings of those who may be impacted by our decisions. In a teaching environment, being able to articulate clearly the reason for our decisions helps us to communicate openly, honestly and effectively with students and colleagues.
To mark the end of our CPD a wonderful lunch was enjoyed, reflections and experiences shared and a final stroll through the beautiful streets of Malaga before our flight home.
Reflection and thanks
It was an incredible opportunity to progress our CPD in Malaga. Being away from our normal routine gave us the space to reflect and engage in Mindfulness, Leadership Skills, Conflict Resolution and Decision-Making in a meaningful and challenging manner. A sincere thanks to our management team and colleagues in BFEI for all their long hours of work managing, supporting, and encouraging the Erasmus+ programme for students and staff. Thank you to Nicole for facilitating such a challenging and interesting CPD agenda. Also, thanks to European Era for their support and partnership. Finally, to my experienced colleagues that I had the pleasure and privilege to spend time with, learn from, laugh with and continue my personal professional development journey – thank you.