Elizabeth Browne Aherne
Saint Brendan’s College in Killarney
Hibernia College Outstanding Performance in School Placement and Professional Practice Award
Why did you choose teaching and why Hibernia College?
“They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Carl W. Buehner
I chose teaching because I want to create a culture of success which is supported with the mindset and belief that all pupils can achieve. I wanted to be a part of my students’ educational journey with this at the forefront of my mind and embedded deep within my heart and at the spine of my pedagogy and moral purpose. I believe that learning and teaching is not merely the transference of knowledge. It requires respect, equality, partnership, and is an emotional and complex journey for all involved. My vision is that my students will learn new skills and obtain new knowledge in a comfortable environment where they are free to express themselves without fear or prejudice. I want to work tirelessly to maintain a classroom atmosphere that is conducive to learning and encourages dialogue. I want to promote a growth mindset in my teachings. I want to constantly emphasise that intelligence and ability can be harvested and cultivated, and that dedicated effort is essential for learning.
Hibernia College allowed me to study at my own pace from anywhere in the world at any time.
What field of work or study were you in before you started your PME?
I had worked in education since finishing my degree doing grinds, working in the tuition centre in my local town and home-schooling with the Department of Education and Skills. I thoroughly enjoyed home-schooling children with specific educational needs, but I really craved the challenge of the classroom which fuelled my desire to do the PMEPP with Hibernia College.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area?
My research question was “How an awareness of the risk of adolescent anxiety and depression by Irish post-primary teachers can be used to support student mental health and academic attainment”. This study investigated how an awareness of the risk of adolescent anxiety and depression by Irish post-primary teachers can be used to support student mental health and academic attainment. Positive peer and teacher relationships were identified as critical protective factors with academic stress, social media, and stigma revealed as risk factors. Mental health and wellbeing training were highlighted as lacking in schools with the language of mental health revealed as being challenging. Suicidal ideation and self-harm were found to be outcomes of adolescent anxiety and depression. The study was hugely rewarding and an enlightening experience.
Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?
I am currently covering maternity leave in Saint Brendan’s College in Killarney, Co. Kerry teaching English to both Junior and Leaving Certificate students and I love it. I am thrilled to be qualified and enjoying the classroom.
What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting a PME?
The advice that I would give someone starting Hibernia is to commit and really invest in this course. You really will get out what you put into it. It is a full-time course, and it is challenging but there are people there to support you and you will come out the other end and it really is worth it. Start as you mean to go on and use the supports that are available to help you on your journey. “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney