Time to grow up I guess!

Friday March 7th 2014

Opening my laptop to a screen that doesn’t involve the words ‘Lesson Plan’, ‘Lesson Evaluation’, or ‘Scheme of Work’ as the headline is a much needed break from the absolute mayhem that has proven to be my teaching practice!

From early last September these were two words that every St. Mary’s student dreaded. For us, it meant something completely new, something miles away from what we have always been used to in the education process, something that took us away from the student life that we had grown to know and love, something, quite frankly, which we knew would require an awful lot of work. Drifting off in lectures, cracking nights out and late night chats with our housemates were all interrupted for three months. It was finally time to step out from behind the desk and take control of the classroom.

Even though it took me quite some time to settle in to life in Belfast, packing up and leaving the Big Smoke was actually a lot more emotional than I thought. The craic that was had living with friends, saying bye to the faces of the new friends that we had become so used to seeing day in, day out, and generally having a great time of it was sure to be missed.

However, coming home to Glenullin,  I felt nothing short of the Prodigal Son when Mammy was standing with the boot of the car open ready to be put to the test with the amount I had to bring home, and then to head straight down the M2 to be taken out for lunch! Even though they don’t admit it, the parentals definitely missed me.

moving out

The arrival back home was made even more exciting by the countdown to my younger brother’s formal too! I suppose it isn’t exactly the same for boys, but the excitement none the less was high and it was class to be back home to be part of it!


Unlike most, it wasn’t the hours of preparation, planning and teaching that I was afraid of. What if I found out that what I thought I had wanted to do my entire life was completely wrong for me. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as though I was thrown in at the deep end, with no assistance, to fend for myself. The support that St. Mary’s provided for us was second to none. However there really is only so much experience you can gain from standing in front of your fellow classmates pretending that they’re anything between 5 and 11 years old and talking to them in a voice so over-emphasised it would suggest they don’t actually speak English.

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The fear of the unknown was overwhelming the night before I began the seven week block of school experience. What if teaching isn’t for me? What if I can’t put all the theory into practice? What if the pupils don’t respond to me? What if the staff don’t like me?  Thankfully though, these anxieties that stood between me and what was much needed sleep at the time were quickly suppressed the following day as I began my career as ‘Miss Anderson’.

The Primary School in which I was placed welcomed me whole heartedly into what was evidently a very close knit and faithful school community. The corridors of the building rang with children’s voices as the hustle and bustle of daily school life commenced. However the stranger pacing the halls trying to calmly find a room that looked like the staffroom proved to be somewhat of a novelty for the young pupils.

From my perspective, primary school is pretty much the same as what I can remember. Aside from the fact that interactive whiteboards are now more common than loose change and the desks that at the time I thought were the ‘big desks’ are actually still no more than the height of my knee.

The change from being the person behind the desk amongst my classmates, to being the person stood at the front of the room, (or as a model teacher would, walk around the room) is something that nothing can ever really prepare you for. Having thirty pairs of eyes watching your every move and following from your example is a pretty terrifying experience, but, like most things I’m sure it will come with practice.

I am only just beginning the second week of school experience now as you read this, but so far everything is going well. Although as a friend of mine would say, “Ná beannaigh an t-iasc sula dtága sé i dtír!” However with the much needed help and support of St. Mary’s and the staff and pupils of the primary school alike, I’m very hopeful that the next seven weeks will be a very positive experience. I can only hope that I can be half the teacher my teachers in the past have been and to pass on my experiences to the pupils that I am honoured to teach for the next seven weeks.

Until next month,