Portlaoise Educate Together NS
Hibernia College Research Prize
Why choose teaching and why Hibernia College?
Becoming a teacher has always been my passion. I have a love of learning and want to impart that to the children I encounter. Interacting with children and making a positive impact on their lives is important to me. I am very interested in supporting children in developing their skills to become independent and the best version of themselves. One of my primary school teachers made a lasting impression on me by making learning fascinating and fun. I hope to do the same as a teacher!
Choosing Hibernia College to undertake the PME was the obvious option for me. As a mum and mature student the flexibility of the course and the mix of blended learning allowed me to study while also meeting the demands of family life.
What field of work or study were you in before you started the PME?
I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies from Carlow IT in 2009. Prior to starting the PME I worked as an SNA in various settings for ten years. In addition to this I worked as a one to one tutor supporting children with learning difficulties.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area?
My research project was aimed at investigating teachers’ perceptions on what factors influence and underpin the inclusion of students with ASD in the mainstream primary classroom in Ireland. The number of children with ASD attending mainstream schools in Ireland is rising. I was motivated by direct experience of observing teachers endeavour to include children with ASD. Further investigation of previous research in the area disclosed that an array of factors influence teachers perceptions on effective inclusion. These included autism awareness, behaviour, training, experience, support and collaboration. In addition to this the teachers own attitudes are fundamental. My research project allows opportunities for further exploration in the area and perhaps will guide investigations in how the influencing factors can be supported to allow for meaningful inclusion.
Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?
I am currently working as an SET with 4th, 5th and 6th class in Portlaoise Educate Together N.S. This is the school I carried out my school placements in. The positive atmosphere in the school community is fantastic. I am fortunate enough to be working alongside such an experienced and knowledgeable staff who are always willing to answer questions and share nuggets of their wisdom. I am also undertaking Droichead this year. I am looking forward to continuing to grow and learn from my colleagues in addition to participating in the vast array of CPD courses that will show me new and different ways of teaching children.
What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting the PME?
It is difficult to choose just one piece of advice to offer someone who is considering beginning the PME. On reflection I would say it is vital to be oragnised and take the workload one step at a time. As a previous PME graduate reminded me throughout the two years, ‘there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.’ The course is intense but worth it as you get to pursue your teaching vocation. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask questions, whether it be to those in your regional group, tutors or to teachers you meet while on school placement. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are so many amazing teaching and learning ideas as well as resources available that you can use and adapt for the children you are working with. Probably the most important piece of advice I could offer is — Always believe in yourself and your abilities!