Presentation Secondary School in Thurles
LLB (1992), Université de Paris 1 – Pantheon – Sorbonne, France
Diplôme Supérieur d’Etudes Françaises Modernes (1999), Alliance Française, Kenya
BSc. (hons) International Studies (2012), the Open University, England
Hibernia College Student of the Year Award
Hibernia College Research Award
Why did you choose teaching and why Hibernia College?
My original plans for my future never included teaching! When I left school, I was full of fire and zeal and was intent on promoting world peace and paving the way for universal justice. I wanted to make a real contribution to society. Throughout my adult life, I have been very fortunate to live in a wide variety of interesting places. Ironically, wherever I lived, I usually ended up teaching whatever I was doing at that time. It mattered little what I was teaching — I simply loved the connection with the students and I learned as much from them as they did from me. I particularly loved helping learners to catch up on classes they had missed. Over the years, I have taught English, French, cookery and horse-riding. I found that working with students who struggled with learning difficulties gave me important insights into the value of differentiation and the importance of formative assessment and effective feedback.
Finding Hibernia College was a turning point for me in a number of ways. Hibernia College had been recommended to me by colleagues and friends who had studied with them and the blended learning they offered was ideal for what I needed.
What field of work or study were you in before you started your PME?
After completing my law degree at the Sorbonne, I worked in an international law firm in Paris, which I loved. I then made the decision to move to Kenya, which I made my home for eight years. While I was in Africa, I did a number of different jobs, but my main focus became teaching French both in schools and also at the Alliance Française in Nairobi. Being a committed life-long learner, I subsequently completed further studies in French and International Studies, but my main interest always remained with teaching. Since returning to Ireland, I have been teaching both privately and in secondary schools.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area?
My research project explored the interlocking concepts of formative assessment and effective feedback as ways of supporting learner progression. Endeavouring to challenge each student to fulfil their potential, whilst simultaneously providing them with the tools to achieve this progress was a subject of keen interest to me. As I got deeper into my dissertation research, the central role and contributions of the teacher to this process became of particular relevance. My integrative literature review attempted to answer the following research questions: How influential are teachers’ attitudes and perceptions of formative assessment with the use of feedback? How do teacher assessment literacy and teacher assessment identity address the challenges of formulating and adapting feedback suitable for student needs? Focusing on this area was an attempt to highlight the lacunae in the literature around the Irish educational context.
Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?
Since graduating, I have been teaching French in the Presentation Secondary School in Thurles, where I hope to stay for the foreseeable future. During my spare time, I shall catch up on reading, camping and spend quality time with family and friends.
What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting a PME?
Working consistently is of paramount importance. Start on the first day as you intend to go on and do not leave anything on the long finger. It’s very challenging to catch up if you fall behind. Doing a PME becomes an integral part of your life for the duration of your studies so it is vital to establish a sustainable work-life balance early on, especially if you are working and have a family at the same time. Attending both online and face-to-face lectures is necessary to consolidate learning. Collaborating with peers and lecturers helps so much as there will inevitably be those times when the workload seems insurmountable. Always remember that everyone on the course has a life outside of studying and that there will be good and not so good days for all of you. Encouraging and offering each other moral support is something that will always help. Be dedicated for the two years and you will reap the benefits. Doing a PME will provide you with a well-rounded background to teaching; the history, philosophy, psychology and sociology of education is fascinating and will immeasurably enhance your understanding of both teachers and learners.