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Alumni profile

Suzanne O’Brien

PME in Primary Education



Alexandra College Junior School


Bachelor of Arts in French and Irish, Trinity College


Duais Ghaeilge Gael Linn

Why did you choose teaching and why Hibernia College?

I have always been deeply interested in education. I loved school, both as a child and teenager, and I was very lucky to have such wonderful teachers throughout my education. My parents recognised this love for school in me from a young age and always encouraged me to work hard and enjoy the process! For these reasons, I could never really see myself anywhere but the classroom! When I decided to embark on my PMEP, I spoke with my Grandad, who reminded me that an education is one of the greatest things you can give a child. This inspired me to pursue teaching. I chose Hibernia College as the flexibility of the programme suited my life at the time. I was able to continue working a flexible schedule while I studied and to complete tasks and assignments in the evenings or at weekends. This gave me control of my schedule, something which I feel is important for a student!


What field of work or study were you in before you started your PME?

When I left secondary school, I studied French and Irish at Trinity College Dublin as I have a real grá for languages. From there, I moved to London and began working as an ESL Teacher (English as a Second Language). This job taught me so much about people and education and confirmed my aforementioned suspicions that the classroom was the place for me! Five years later, I felt that I was ready to become a primary school teacher. I am delighted that I took some time before beginning my PMEP as I feel that the life experience I gained during those years has really benefited me as a teacher. I began the course and career with a maturity I fear I would not otherwise have had.


Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area?

My research project focused on teachers’ perceptions of the challenges and successes experienced when motivating children to engage with the Irish language. My passion is Irish and I always knew my research topic would be tied to the language in some way. I feel that it’s important to choose an area that truly interests you so that you stay motivated throughout the process. I chose to focus on this particular area as I wanted to better understand how teachers were engaging children in Irish lessons in school and what methodologies they were using to do so. As a child, I thoroughly enjoyed learning Irish in school and I credit this to the teachers who promoted its use in a fun, relaxed way in the classroom. In addition, I researched how external factors (such as parents’ attitudes towards Irish and opportunity to use the Irish language outside of school) affected children’s own motivation to engage with the language. It was fascinating to me to learn about teachers’ attitudes towards teaching Irish and how this then translated to their pupils. (No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader and all that!) I am happy I chose this area of study as I can already feel the results of my research influencing the way I teach Irish in school.


Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?

At present, I’m teaching 4th class in Alexandra College Junior School in Dublin. I completed my Advanced Placement in this school and was thrilled when an opening for a teacher came up. It is a wonderful school which fosters a caring and supportive environment for both pupils and staff. It has been an excellent place for me to complete my Droichead training and to begin my career. It has been an unusual introduction to the teaching profession with COVID-19 restrictions and challenges, but the team at Alex has been most welcoming and encouraging. Who knows what the future has in store, but at the moment, I feel that I am in the right place.


What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting a PME?

Completing a PME is no mean feat! A lot of hard work must go into it and it takes up a lot of your time. I would advise anyone considering starting a PME not to be fazed by the workload. Take it all one step at a time. If this is something you truly want to do, go for it. Get the head down, work hard and don’t be afraid to rely on your fellow teachers for advice and support! The teaching profession is an incredibly supportive community. It’s tough work but the rewards are bountiful!

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