Scoil Aonghusa Junior School in Balrothery, Tallaght
After I graduated from college I started volunteering in a senior school as a debate coach and I felt so at home in the classroom that I knew teaching was the right career for me. I chose Hibernia because of the flexibility it allowed me as a student.
Before starting the PME I graduated from Trinity College with a degree in Law, with the intention of going on to King’s Inns to train as a barrister.
My research project investigated the benefits and challenges of using debate as a learning tool in the sixth classes of a DEIS Band 1 school. I focused on this area as I have a background in debate, having debated competitively all through secondary school and university, and I noticed that most of the research pertaining to debate in an educational context focused on debate at second or third level of education. I wanted to address the lack of research in the area and gain knowledge that could guide me in incorporating debate into my own practice as a primary school teacher.
I used the qualitative method of semi-structured interviews in my study with 2 teacher and 8 pupil participants that had experience of debate in a sixth-class primary school setting. The findings of my study confirmed that there are many benefits of incorporating debate in a primary school setting including; the development of confidence and skills in pupils and an increase in pupil participation in class. The findings also identified some challenges faced by the teacher when incorporating debate in their practice including a lack of knowledge, a lack of experience and a lack of time.
I am currently working in a junior school in Tallaght teaching junior infants and, as I have just recently received a permanent contract in this school, I plan on being here for the foreseeable future. I plan on spending the school holidays travelling for the next couple of years and I hope to set up a student council for second class pupils in my school in the next year or two also.
I would tell anyone considering starting a PME to try get some school experience beforehand. Undertaking a PME is a huge commitment in terms of time and money and you need to go into the course with your eyes open regarding the realities of school life. Spending time working or volunteering in schools before starting a PME also pays off when it comes to finding school placements.