Teaching and Learning during a Pandemic: Challenges and Opportunities


FÉILTE’s theme of ‘Collaborating to Connect: Empathy with our Communities’ has perhaps never been more appropriate than now. None of us could have predicted what happened in March 2020 – the entire country locking down. Teachers, students and workers told to stay home, and to exercise within a 2km radius.

One of the remarkable features of our humanity is our ability to adapt and adjust – so we did! Teachers suddenly found themselves trying to figure out how to reach and connect with their students; parents found themselves having to homeschool their children, without ever having planned for it, while the children reacted in different ways depending on their age and background.

School buildings have now re-opened and we are operating in a ‘new normal’.

We have always known that schools are at the heart of communities around Ireland, but it isn’t the school buildings that create the pulse – it’s the dedication of everyone in the school community – teachers rising professionally to meet the challenge;  parents working from home while parenting within work, and students learning a whole new meaning to ‘home work’.

During the lockdown, everything has been in reach – but nothing – and no-one – has been within touch.  Nevertheless, while our communities have had to stay apart to keep each other safe, in many ways this has connected us like never before. We find ourselves in a situation where, in coping with a common foe, we can empathise more easily in a shared experience with neighbours, older people and those who live alone, children who struggle to focus and each other in a time of uncertainty.

This panel discussed the range of challenges – and opportunities – faced by the community in a world where everything is changing at a pace that is hard to keep up with. It explored the many beneficial aspects of the teaching and learning experience in the time of COVID-19 with a view to identifying and continuing the best practices that have been strongly demonstrated throughout the profession to date.

Phil Fox, Deputy Director of the Teaching Council, was the chairperson for the panel discussion, and was live in studio.

The panel included:

  • Tracie Tobin, Principal of St Michael’s Infant School, Sexton Street, Limerick City
  • Cecilia Munro, Principal of Ballyfermot College of Further Education, Dublin 12
  • PJ Ryan, Parent
  • Michael McGroarty, Post-primary teacher at Milford Community College, Co. Donegal
  • Aoileann Mooney, Student at St. Peter’s College, Dunboyne, Co Meath


Please see here for our FÉILTE 2020 Attendee Programme, with full details of the day.

FEILTE 2020 Attendee Programme Cover