Scoil Barra, Ballincollig
Degree in Early Childhood, University College Cork
INTO Vere Foster Outstanding Performance in School Experience
Why did you choose teaching & why Hibernia College?
Teaching is something I am very passionate about; previously being a teacher in another sector I loved every minute of my job. I love how open children are to learning new things and I am always trying to find new ways to make learning fun, interactive and progressive. I have always wanted to be a teacher, and Hibernia College gave me the opportunity to fulfil that dream as I was able to study and work at the same time.
I have wonderful memories of my own schooling in Gaelscoil Uí Ríordáin, Ballincollig and a memory of one teacher in particular who was so passionate and creative with his methods of teaching. He inspired me to think outside the box when preparing my own lessons, especially when I felt certain information I was trying to transfer was lost in translation.
What field of work or study were you in before you started your PME?
Before embarking on my Hibernia College journey I was working in EBS as a home insurance and mortgage advisor, during my time there I realised I missed teaching and applied for the PME. Prior to working in the bank I worked in the early year’s sector for almost 8 years in a progressive Montessori school in Cork, Horizons Montessori. This is where I fell in love with play-based learning and Aistear. Aistear is something I hold in high esteem and not just in the infant classes but through integration in older classes too. I find Aistear very beneficial when teaching; during my teaching practice in Scoil Barra, Ballincollig I incorporated Aistear into my Gaeilge lessons for both 3rd and 4th class to ensure understanding and use of Gaeilge labhartha. Mar shampla: sna hardranganna chruthaigh mé cluiche boird chun tacú le tuiscint na réamhfhocail.
I believe my wealth of experience from Montessori and the ‘school of life’ prepared me hugely for my Hibernia experience and supported me greatly during each school placement. I was also affored the opportunity to work as a substitute teacher in many schools during the PME, namely Scoil Barra, Ballincollig and Scoil na nÓg, Glanmire.
Scoil Barra’s value of choosing respect filters through the whole school and in my opinion is a very powerful message. I convey this value in my lessons and classroom management approach; establishing classroom rules, how I address my students, being consistent and proffering a classroom where ideas and opinions can be shared without judgement.
Thaispeáin Scoil na nÓg dom go bhfuil an cur chuige cumarsáideach ina phríomhchuspóir i gcuraclam teanga na bunscoile. I mo thuairim, is eiseamláir mé agus chun an ról sin a chomhlíonadh ní miste liomsa ceannaireacht a thabhairt le dea-shampla, an Ghaeilge a úsáid go neamhfhoirmiúil ionas go mbeidh taithí ag na dáltaí ó bheith ag éisteacht liom agus é a shíneadh le saibhreas teanga. Creidim má mhúinim an dara teanga leis an gcur chuige cumarsáideach beidh na leanaí ag úsáid na teanga go neamhfhoirmiúil ina saol laethúil toisc go mbeidh sé i ndlúth agus in inneach a gcuimhne seachas ar mhaithe leis an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim.
I am very greatly for all the experiences I have had to date that have now led me to teaching.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area?
My research dissertation aimed to investigate teachers’ perspectives on friendship formation for children with ASD, and the challenges faced when executing play-based learning while evaluating if play has a positive impact on inclusion and participation for children with ASD.
My research found that participants value play-based learning as an effective pedagogy to promote friendship formation. Worrying trends appeared during the data collection process, revealing that participants felt they did not receive sufficient training in SEN during their Teacher Training. My findings also revealed the crucial need for teachers’ understanding of how to adapt the curriculum, teach social skills and to utilise their CPD training to aid children with ASD in reducing social barriers to augment inclusion.
I have a deep personal motivation for choosing this research topic. In a prior life, as a Montessori teacher, I met countless children diagnosed and awaiting a diagnosis of ASD and there was one vexing question that resonated with me; why is it that some children with ASD interact with ease during play; forming and maintaining peer friendships, while many do not? This question encouraged me in my own practice to call upon every resource available, to ensure social opportunities were accessible to these children with Special Educational Needs. The question re-emerged for me during my school placements; where primary children with ASD were at times socially isolated, teachers often commenting on the challenges of ensuring social inclusion for these children. These questions were the motivation for my study.
Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?
I am very fortunate to be working with an amazing team of supportive teachers in Scoil Barra, Ballincollig, under the guidance of Karen O’Sullivan for the coming school year.
The teachers of Scoil Barra endeavour to instil in their students, a sense of community and a pride in their school, through the collaboration between various parties. I believe each success, no matter how small is a sign that a child is growing and learning and should be celebrated. Every success, academic, musical, sporting and creative outlets are acknowledged and praised in Scoil Barra which creates a positive school experience. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to work alongside some of the most exceptional teachers in the country. I am still eager to learn and I will keep developing my practice and learn from the other members of staff.
I’m hoping to have my Droichead completed this year and will be applying to schools in Cork to obtain a more permanent teaching position. I am looking forward to a career full of learning and a classroom filled with a hive of curiosity and activity.
What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting a PME.
For anyone considering starting the PME; if teaching is something you are passionate about then apply – this will not be something you will look back and regret. I would advise anyone beginning their Hibernia journey to make the most of the two years and utilise every opportunity afforded to you. I know it’s cliché to say but ‘what you put in is what you get out’. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from so many wonderful teachers during my school placement, Sinéad O’Connor and Kara Woods (Scoil Barra, Ballincollig), Jackie McCarthy and Fiona Barry (Morning Star, Ballyphehane) and Colin Gibson (Scoil Phádraig Naofa, Rochestown). As well as the teachers in Scoil Barra that I have had the opportunity to learn from as I observe their teaching during the Droichead process. I am so appreciative of the time and support each of these people gave me during my time working with them.
The greatest advice I could give you is make a group of friends on the course that you can bounce ideas off, discuss problems with and enjoy your time with during the course. These people are they only ones who truly understand the pressure and time constraints you are under and will keep you sane throughout the entire process as well as being your biggest support. Coming away from Hibernia with a masters was the ultimate goal but the friendships made will be maintained long after Hibernia.