Firstly, allow us to explain what the Meitheal Programme entails. The Meitheal Programme in our school trains Sixth Year students to become mentors for incoming First Years who might require some help with the transition from primary to secondary school.
In mid-August, the Meitheal leaders undertook a two-day training course to help us to work effectively with the First Year students and to teach us how to overcome and react to any problems they might have.
Along with incoming First Years, we were brought into school a few days early in order to be part of their induction day, to meet and greet and to just generally show them the ropes.
As the Sixth Years were beginning another year of school routine but with the added pressure of sitting our Leaving Cert exam, the First Years were beginning a new chapter in their school lives here at Coláiste Eamon Rís.
The 2nd of September was the first time we met up with our First Year group without the presence of a teacher. Both the First Years and ourselves were equally excited about meeting each other. After introducing ourselves, we soon realised that this year’s First Years were pretty much the same as us when we were in First Year, both hyper and full of life. We put our training to use by playing ice-breaker games and just generally interacting with each other.
At the start, we found them to be giddy but we soon managed to learn how to control them and after the first week we were beginning to enjoy taking them out for soccer, dodgeball, hangman, and balloon games, and we even held a table quiz. That was a big success, largely due to the fact that we offered the winning team a prize.
As we approach the end of the half-term, we hope that we have helped the First Years to settle in and indeed, help them with any problems they may have had.
As First Years ourselves, we couldn’t comprehend the significance of the Meitheal Programme but we now realise that it can be a very important job and can be of great benefit to the incoming students. Looking back now, we are all extremely glad to have been given the opportunity of becoming a Meitheal leader and all that comes with it.
We hope that by the end of the year that the First Year students will be confident, happy and independent
– David, Ross and Niall
Meitheal Report – December
During the month of November, we decided that our First Year class, Hamilton, was well and truly settled in to the daily routine of school life.
We could tell how relaxed they were around each other when they participated in a game of Charades. Even one of the quieter lads surprised us both when he got up in front of the class and acted out a scene from “Godzilla”! Afterwards, we played a memory game of “I Went to the Shop” where one person calls out an item on their “shopping list” and the next person had to try to remember the entire list and then add their own item to it. We were amazed by the respect they showed by listening to each other.
We’re very happy with all the classes in First Year as everyone seems to get on, and they participate very well in all the classes. None of the First Years exclude any other kids in their classes. They seem to have really found their niche in the school.
Meitheal leaders play an important role in smoothing the transition into secondary school of 1st year students. They act as role models for 1st years, and they are available to help 1st years organise books, timetables and lockers. They establish a friendly rapport with particular groups of students, and provide an appropriate listening ear. They are alert to incidents of bullying, which they refer to the relevent teachers. A designated staff member co-ordinates their work with the pupils, and liases between leaders and teachers when necessary.