It is with terrible sadness that we learned that Bianca Ní Ghrógháin, a wonderful teacher, colleague and friend had passed away over the weekend. Bianca represented everything that was right in primary education. She pushed the boundaries everyday and her armour of talent was vast, in particular through her use of technology. She inspired teachers to try out things that seemed impossible and improbable.
Her Makey Makey workshops (above Vine from user Cara) became a must-see at edTech conferences and her quick-fire Teachmeet talks where she would introduce a dozen ideas in less than ten minutes became legendary. I remember the first time I saw her show a video of how she turned some children in her class into a “human piano” using Makey Makey. You nearly felt like every single person in the room would explode with excitement but it was just another day in Bianca’s classroom.
I loved the fact that nothing was a barrier to her. For example, she was the only teacher I knew who decided to do the Flipped Classroom Model with Senior Infants (5-6 year olds) with amazing success. She told us stories of how her class sent her messages on Edmodo on Christmas Day. She was fearless and didn’t allow anything to get in her way to help her children learn.
Bianca was incredibly generous with her time and was a prolific Twitter user, where she shared ideas, inspirational quotes and other teachers’ work. One of her tweets about using Lego as fractions was retweeted over 300 times, something that never happens in the edTech world. Through her use of technology, Bianca made a massive impact and she was internationally respected. Perhaps, appropriately, the #edchatie feed of Twitter has been filled with tributes.
Bianca Ní Ghrógáin – A proud member of the teaching profession who gave so generously of her time and talent. Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.
— Teaching Council (@TeachingCouncil) June 8, 2015
— INTO (@INTOnews) June 8, 2015
Bianca Ní Ghrógáin, Rest in Peace: http://t.co/C0Qj5wpymx
— CESI (@cesitweets) June 8, 2015
The last time I saw Bianca was on May 23rd. She was standing at the door of the Printworks Conference Centre at Dublin Castle. On one side of her was the Excited Learning Festival, a celebration of technology in education. On the other side were the celebrations from the marriage equality referendum. This is the image we’ll take with us of Bianca. Not only was she a celebrated edTech teacher, she was a champion of equality for everyone and believed that no matter who you were or where you were from, you belonged. While many of my chats with Bianca revolved around technology in education, we mostly spoke about equality, human rights and justice. Bianca worked in Griffeen Valley Educate Together NS and she represented everything that we stand for in Educate Together. One could truly say she lived the ethos. In her care, no child was an outsider at any time.
Bianca was also a passionate Gaelgóir and I can’t help but feel that this aspect of her along with her technology knowhow and her inclusiveness, would have been a combination that could only have strengthened the Irish language in our education system.
Our cover photograph for this article is from the 2015 CESI conference in Galway. It was our first conference with our baby boy, Emrys, who was only about 6 months at the time. Emrys sat with Bianca through one of the talks and he was as happy to be there. I don’t think she knew what an influential and brilliant person she was. Our sincere sympathies to her family. Bianca will certainly not be forgotten by us.