De la Salle College
Bachelor of Arts
Hibernia College Outstanding Performance in School Placement and Professional Practice Award
Why did you choose teaching and why Hibernia College?
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I had a fantastic school experience in Ballygunner primary school and in the Mercy secondary school in Waterford. My teachers were inspiring, and I grew up knowing I wanted to be like them. Some of the most valuable lessons I learned in school had very little to do with what was on the curriculum. I chose Hibernia College because of the blended learning opportunities that would suit my schedule as a Mam. It was also fantastic in that it allowed me to keep working throughout the course.
What field of work or study were you in before you started your PME?
I worked as a waitress before I began my PME. It was here I learned what hard work looked like. I gained so much experience working with various people and meeting people from all walks of life (which I loved). I also learned how to thrive under pressure and stay calm in stressful situations, which, in teaching, is invaluable.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area?
My research project focused on the power of perception and wait time within the classroom, and how these two things can impact inclusion. I focused particularly on the inclusion of students with dyslexia. My research shows how students perceive their dyslexia can impact their confidence and, ultimately, their academic achievement. It also attempts to show how something as simple as a three-second pause can help improve inclusion for all students in a classroom environment. As my background is in psychology from my studies in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, the idea of studying perception within the classroom was intriguing to me. I learned so much during this research. I chose to study dyslexia as there are people close to me who went through school with dyslexia and did not have the same inclusive educational opportunities as I did. I chose to include wait time (the time a teacher waits after posing a question) as it is a methodology that directly affects the inclusion of students with dyslexia. I also believe that some teachers still do not wait long enough to allow students to generate original thought that is essential for learning. It is a practice that does not come naturally to humans as you do not usually have three- to five-second pauses during conversations without getting socially awkward. This is why teachers should retrain their brains to not feel required to fill these essential gaps of silence during lessons.
Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?
My plans, as of now, are to keep learning, keep reflecting, keep smiling and keep improving in an attempt to become the best teacher I can possibly be.
What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting a PME?
One of the most important things I have learned is the power of a smile. It is a versatile tool that can create a positive environment; it can be encouraging, it can make you approachable and, most importantly, it can be disarming! My Dad used to talk about the power of a smile, and I never really understood what he meant by this until my school placement. If I could share any piece of knowledge with another person training to be a teacher, it would be to keep smiling — sometimes, a child needs to see it even if you don’t feel like doing it.