- Vere Foster Outstanding Performance in School Experience, Primary
Why did you choose teaching & why Hibernia College?
I have always loved children but when I was in leaving cert I thought that I was not cut out for primary teaching. At the time, I thought that primary school teaching might be tedious because I would be teaching the same class the same textbooks year in, year out! When I had my own children I gave up working to stay at home with them. I was enthralled with their potential for learning and I considered primary school teaching again as a career. I observed my brother teaching at his school in Dublin and saw that the profession has evolved considerably over the years. Hibernia was the only college that I applied to because it allowed me the flexibility to study at my convenience and to continue to stay at home with my daughters who were 3 and 1 when I started the course.
What field of work or study were you in before you started your PME?
I obtained my initial degree in physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin and I worked for several years as a physiotherapist in a hospital in Co. Kerry.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area?
My research project investigated Irish primary school teachers’ knowledge and attitudes surrounding the teaching and assessment of 21st-century skills. 21st-century skills is a broad umbrella term that encompasses skills that are required of children for their success in the workplace after they leave school e.g. communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, digital literacy, and social skills, among others. I was interested in the evolution of the profession from ‘sage on the stage’ where the teacher imparts all the knowledge from the top of the classroom to the more interactive and dynamic classrooms that are promoted nowadays where children are more active and have more autonomy in their learning. I had spent two years studying best-practice guidelines for teaching I wanted to establish the barriers for the myriad of recommendations that aren’t necessarily being applied in every school for very legitimate reasons. I was also interested in our possible tendency as teachers to teach the way we were taught ourselves. Also, children today are technology literate from an early age and I think that technology is a 21st-century skill that cannot be neglected in our primary schools. Although the thesis was work-intensive, I really enjoyed it and learned a lot from my participants and my research.
Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?
I am living in Limerick with my family and have been very lucky to get a lot of subbing work locally, mostly in the schools where I completed my placements. I am hoping to get my DIP done this year. Apart from that, I will continue to engage in CPD and further study because I still feel that I have a lot to learn to become the best teacher that I can be!
What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting a PME?
I would advise them to immerse themselves fully in it, to attend all of the lectures and onsites. The workload can seem overwhelming at times over the two years, but it helps to just consider one deadline at the time! As a Mom, I required a support network of family to help mind my daughters so that I could get assignments submitted at times! Overall, I would say that the two years were challenging but extremely rewarding and I am very happy at this stage to have graduated and I love my job!