I was one of those people who wanted to be a teacher since I was sixteen.
I taught Physics and Maths to teenagers for a decade, which has created a pool from which I take most of my most fond memories.
Most of the former half was spent working in a Deis school in Cork City’s suburbs,which can only be described as my formative years as a teacher. If you want to see great teachers, I recommend you go where the teaching is tough.
When the Irish economy plummeted, and teaching work got scarce, I emigrated to New Zealand. I then spent half a decade teaching in a wonderful school, in Wellington city center, with a gorgeous blend of diversity and technology as it’s focus.
There I occupied a few positions. I was Head of Physics for a while, which was interesting insight into the administrative aspects of a school, and did allow me the freedom to implement student project-work at senior level. Watching kids learning the physics of a sun-dial was a good moment.
One of the biggest roles, with the most ungainly titles, I had there was “Specialist Classroom Teacher for Digital Technologies”, or “eSCT” for short. That was my favorite role.
The advantage of it having sprawlingly open responsibilities, was I was able to work on a lot of things I really cared about to a meaningful degree; helping young people develop better self-management skills, particularly around digital citizenship and cybersafety, helping staff members who weren’t confident with technology become confident, and having a seat on school-wide policy committees with respect to ICT.
Most all of this was made possible by the continued support, flexibility and innovation in the face of uncertainty of the school principal, Sally Haughton, a leader I can’t hold in higher esteem.
Early in my time in Wellington, Professor Jane Gilbert, who had taught there years prior, returned to invite teachers to participate in a research project. Her uncommon insight was that giving talks and lectures on conference circuits wasn’t likely to help much, and if meaningful change was to come, it would come from teachers.
That’s an insight I still value closely.
Over the next few years, I continued working with Prof. Gilbert through a myriad of different education research projects around education which were consistently challenging and eye-opening.
Time came to put urges that were gaining in weight; to come home to Ireland, and to continue this research in a more than part-time way. In the summer of 2016, I returned to Ireland and enrolled in University College Cork, and am presently pursuing a PhD in Collaborative Strategies for Education.