3 down… how many more to go?

Three big assignments are done and dusted. Time has both flown by but also stood still. I’m quite happy with what I’ve done so far, it hasn’t been easy, especially writing lesson plans with very little classroom experience. However, I know it will all begin to click into place when I’m on placement (hopefully).

I want to look back on this when I’m qualified and experienced and remember how nervous, overwhelmed but also excited I am about my upcoming placement.

I’m really happy with what I’ve submitted so far. I’ve gained some valuable insight into my ideals of how I hope to be as a teacher, which is a fair, uplifting and patient one with awareness and acknowledgement of my privilege in the Irish education system. Within our pedagogy assignments, I’ve learned the importance of keeping lessons simple and do not worry about reinventing the wheel – a lesson I will probably relearn on placement!

The upcoming school placement is certainly intimidating. I think having done all of the course online I’ve become even more intimidated that I’ll be ”out in the big bad world”. Covid has without a doubt taken a toll on my motivation, and it’s hard to not feel a bit overwhelmed by it all when there is no end in sight. However, I do hope and believe that once I’m out on placement and in the swing of things I won’t be so worried about making a mistake. The most important thing to remind myself is that I am not meant to know it all at this point, as long as I learn from the placement and can evaluate my efforts I’ve achieved what I set out to do.

From my first placement, I hope to get a good handle on creating lesson plans with SMART objectives, short and long term planning and implementing strategies for an inclusive classroom. I think the ideas for lessons will come when I meet the class but differentiating and including every child in the lesson will take a bit of practice.

Overall I’m a mix of excitement and nerves but once I focus on the little goals of each day and week I’ll get through it. It’s rewarding knowing I’ve handed in three big assignments (and part of my Irish module too) but I need to remember to not overthink the long list of things I still have to do and just focus on what’s in front of me.

Spring has sprung and placement is not far away

My reflections on being an online learner

Online learning has taken a whole new leap with Covid19 taken front and centre. It’s weird to think that my only experience with Hibernia for now and the foreseeable future (although hopefully not the whole two years!) is through Zoom and online mediums.

Although this isn’t my first experience with online learning. During my Erasmus in Stockholm, Sweden I took a module that was all online. Within this class I did weekly tasks, tests and worked through an online book and then submitted an assignment at the end. This was slightly less interactive than what I’ve experienced with Hibernia, but it suited the travelling Erasmus student as I could work around the flexible schedule it provided. I never felt isolated though as I was living with fellow students and had other in-person classes but it was my first experience with having to motivate and discipline myself to sit down and go to class.

My experience with Hibernia has been a slightly different. The whole course is essentially through Zoom these days which can be really easy as you don’t need to worry about a commute or taking extra time to organise yourself for class. The obvious benefit is sitting in class with a cup of tea and some biscuits in your pyjamas during the winter months, it’s funny to think that now this is ideal for me but I think my old self as an Erasmus student would have laughed at the sight of me.

Similarly to my Erasmus experience I don’t feel as isolated as I thought I would be. After setting up a Whatsapp group for our regional class it was a pretty nice vibe between us all, I think we are all in the same boat and just want to get along, have a laugh and help each other out over the next two years. But, some days are harder than others and I crave for the time when we do get to hang out and have a coffee or a glass of vino in person.

In terms of working at my desk, it hasn’t been plain-sailing. I find it really hard if I’m just sitting at my desk all day and staring at the laptop, it takes a lot of motivation to first sit down and be strict with your time and also force yourself to get out of the chair. In these winter months especially, I find myself being reluctant to going on my run or even for a walk and it takes a toll then on my studies and mental health.

The reality of working from a screen all the time – lots of brainstorming on paper on the floor

After finishing Foundations of Education module I definitely enjoyed the little break I took but found it so hard to get back into it but I think I’m better at taking breaks and enjoying my time away from the desk rather than feeling guilty about it. It’s important for myself to not be too hard on myself and force myself to call it quits in the late hours of the night or have a lie-in in the morning.

Finding the right balance with working and time off has been tricky and I still don’t think I’ve mastered it but I’m slowly getting the hang of my little routine and telling myself it’s ok if the routine messes up slightly – it’ll prepare me for the classroom!

I hope I can look back in a few years and remember how I did all this during a pandemic and give myself a pat on the back.

It also definitely helps to have a doggo around to keep you company while you work through the session releases!

What type of teacher do I want to be?

As part of Orientation, we had to prepare a graphical representation of the type of teacher we’d like to be. First task and I was already unsure how to put my thoughts and myself into a visual representation. I’ve never been artistically talented but always enjoyed crafts and I don’t think Hibernia are looking for any Picassos or Monets (although I think I could dabble alongside the work of Robert Motherwell).

Anyway, off I go with my markers at the ready and I start to picture that classic image of the world with all the children holding hands around it and bing, the first note of inspiration. I’m very passionate about sustainability and the world so it denoted an extra personal flair.

Then I think of the places I’ve lived, I’ve grown and I’ve developed the skills and traits that I think will embody the type of teacher I hope to become.

Within the Emerald Isle, I was involved in Speech and Drama and hold that creative, innovative aspect in me. Although untapped for a little while I hope to touch into those parts of me and assist me in teaching.

A hop across the way to Stockholm, Sweden where I studied briefly during my undergraduate. Here I really gained compassion. Meeting people from different walks of life, different backgrounds from me was new. Growing up in Dublin, going to school in Dublin and studying in Dublin led me into a small reaching circle. Having compassion and understanding is a key part of the teacher I hope to be for my future students.

Next, we go to Australia, my home away from home. I crave fun, adventure and adrenaline, you name it. I’m a positive person and love making people smile and laugh, I found my positivity in Australia come out a lot more after my gruelling undergraduate final year. Hopefully, I can embody this important and valuable aspect as a teacher.

Final stop, and the most important. The Gambia in West Africa although I’ve never set foot there, it holds a special place within me. Sitting on the sidelines of a journey developing relations between Irish and Gambian teachers that my father was involved in was a major factor in me deciding to be a teacher. Hopefully, I can follow in this journey and be an empowering teacher, contributing something back to the education field beyond my little bubble here in Dublin.

Finished task

So there is it my pièce de résistance. I hope this will come in handy to refer back to when I’m drowning in lesson plans and assignments, and remind myself why I’m here, what I’m doing and where I want to go.

-S Nic Aodha

A video shown during one of our first FOE classes which speaks to what I would like to incorporate in my own teacher identity.

Reflections on Orientation: hare or tortoise?

Picture from Orientation Week of our Academic Writing Webinar

So here we are, 3 weeks deep into the PME for Primary Education with Hibernia College. Mixed emotions still, but definitely more relaxed than I was during Orientation.

We had two weeks of getting used to the online platform, introductory webinars and welcoming emails. I found it helpful, and it’s a great resource to look back on, but was constantly left with this feeling of anticipation. Since accepting my place (and being wholly surprised I got in after a nerve-racking interview), I’ve been in ‘holiday mode’, fully knowing I’ll be working hard for the next 2 years. However, I can only do that so long, I crave the go-go-go momentum and although I put time aside and enjoy a sloth sesh in bed I’m constantly trying to do some form of work. When Orientation started I was ready for a lot of action but was met with a steady flow of ‘meeting XYZ faculty member’, ‘how to reference’, ‘why we shouldn’t plagiarise’. I was slightly unsure how to feel, I’m glad it was a soft, easy transition into the course.

Orientation Day was really enjoyable. I was quite apprehensive about a whole day of zoom calls but it was really interactive – a credit to the faculty. Seeing the staff virtually, and talking to our tutor group virtually was not as daunting as I thought it would be. Everyone was really reassuring and welcoming. I particularly loved the Digital Canteen which I joined during the lunch break talking about Blindboy Podcast and meeting people’s dogs.

Orientation, although I found it slow-paced, was exactly what I needed. I don’t think rushing into something, despite my eagerness to get going would’ve been smart. I’m grateful for it because now I feel ready to continue with the course and build on from it at a steady pace.

Who was that won the race, the hare or the tortoise?

-S Nic Aodha

Orientation Badge