My experience at Maynooth University

My experience at Maynooth University

My Experience at Maynooth University.

As I am prompted to think about my experience at Maynooth University we have reached the first anniversary of our country’s lockdown. Also, it is just over a year since the inspirational Dr Carmel Brennan visited the ELC setting where I work to carry out my final year practice visit. After spending time in the preschool room observing my practice with our wonderful group of creative and energetic three to five-year olds, we spent time chatting about the experience. As I reflect on that chat, I recall speaking professionally, with confidence and passion, about my role as an early years educator. Personally, this demonstrates one of the many positive outcomes of completing the BA in Early Teaching and Learning at Maynooth University.

Within the sector we often refer to our children’s learning as a journey; the concept of a learning journey accurately describes my three years studying for this honours degree. My journey started back in early January 2017, after much personal deliberation, deciding to apply for the course. I was excited by the prospect, but I had lots of niggling self-doubt, questioning if I would be able for the challenge of what might be ahead. However, in retrospect, I had no need to worry. From the first day I was surrounded by a group of people, students and lecturers, who had a shared enthusiasm for learning and discovery. Relationships have been central throughout this experience and each evening, monthly Saturday and block week was spent together in a safe place where experiences were shared, advice offered, and topics debated with passion, on many occasions agreeing to disagree. The emphasis was on the pursuit of more learning where students were encouraged to explore, investigate and question as a community of practice.

Over the three years, the modules are strategically placed to build students body of knowledge through a range of research, early childhood philosophies and approaches while becoming familiar with great theorists, such as Bronfenbrenner, Malaguzzi and Vygotsky, to name just a few. The modules facilitate students to explore relative and meaningful topics, for example, play, relationships, transitions, environments and curriculum. It was inspiring as I consistently witnessed my academic learning in my practice as an early years educator, making the connection between theory and practice. The unique partnership between Early Childhood Ireland (ECI) and the Froebel department at Maynooth promotes this fundamental understanding of the relationship between theory and practice. Reflective practice and emphasises on practical work experience are central to this degree programme. Practice visits from expert early years professionals were opportunities to benefit from mentoring to become more competent in practice.

As I reflect on my time in Maynooth I recognise that this course was intense, challenging and thought-provoking while being enjoyable. It was delivered by a team of dedicated lecturers who were generous in sharing their knowledge, time and experience. As honours degree students we were encouraged and supported to be inter-independent, self-motivated learners, researchers and academic writers. Alongside my fellow students, we completed our degree in unprecedented times. This achievement is testament to personal and professional development promoted and achieved throughout the three years, reinforcing those dispositions of resourcefulness, perseverance and resilience. As a graduate of Maynooth University, with a BA in Early Childhood Teaching and Learning, I am proud to be an advocate for this course; personally, and professionally it has been such a positive life experience.

Biography.

My name is Carmel Haughton and I have worked as an early years educator for over twenty years. I am a room leader in an ECCE room within a community ELC setting. For the foreseeable future I plan to continue in this role, taking my time to apply the new knowledge I have gained from my time in Maynooth University.

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