Recently the children in our school entered a local football competition. The sponsors were putting together a program for the evening including an interview with each captain. One of the first questions I saw was, ‘Who is your favourite teacher?’
It was one of the few times I was glad that I was no longer teaching in the classroom, because I’m sure my ego would have taken a hit if I hadn’t seen my own name as the answer! The question however reminded me of the great influence we have on the lives of the children in our classrooms and in our schools. I have written previously about the positive experiences I had during my own primary school days and I have no doubt that those experiences have helped to shape the educator I am today.
Thinking back on my school days, I was always treated with respect. As a teacher I have always felt that we should treat the children with the same respect we would like to be afforded ourselves. Our interactions with children and each other shape our school environment. I am fortunate to be part of a vibrant school community where all members are valued and respected. I’m sure this feeling is echoed across the country.
As a teacher, we all have our own style, and mine has certainly been shaped by my experiences in school. Not just by one teacher, but by the experience of different teachers I met over fourteen years in the school system.
Every teacher in a classroom in Ireland has been shaped by the teachers they have met as children. I am always proud when I hear a child in our school say he or she would like to be a teacher when they grow up, or especially when we see children return for Transition Year work experience, or even better, Teaching Practice.
We are extremely lucky that we have the opportunity to be a positive influence in so many lives. Our actions today will influence the next generation of not only teachers, but of all in society.
Ask yourself, ‘Who was your favourite teacher?’ I’m sure you will find there is more than one answer!
This week will be the seventh time that I have welcomed new Junior Infants into primary school as Principal. Having never had the opportunity to teach in a Junior Infant classroom, I have great admiration for Junior Infant teachers and the huge impact they have on children as they begin their journey through school.
The day is a huge milestone for families and more often than not I find myself making sure the parents are coping as the children sail in to their new classroom full of enthusiasm. Last year in Upper Glanmire NS, we were fortunate to have the TV3 news team visit us and having those moments on video will be something the children and families will be able to look back upon and cherish in years to come.
It got me thinking about my own first day of school and my own memories of the day. I can remember holding my mother’s hand as we walked from home to Togher Boys’ NS in Cork. I remember the feeling of the enormous corridors (which didn’t feel so big when I ended up back there as a teacher years later!). I remember meeting the Principal, Mr. Dullea, who pointed us in the direction of the Junior Infant classroom where I met my teacher Mrs. Whooley. We stood in a line at the top of the classroom and I can remember Mrs. Whooley sitting on her red leather teacher’s chair as she found my name on the class list. I was asked to choose a ball of márla from a blue biscuit tin and I remember my mother letting go of my hand as Mrs. Whooley asked me to find somewhere to sit. We must have been one of the first to arrive as I remember looking at a sea of white tables and chairs, before I sat down and started rolling my márla into a snake.
I can’t remember much about the day after that but I have nothing but happy memories of my time in Mrs. Whooley’s class. It also got me thinking about the memories of teachers and those working in schools throughout the country. This week in particular, do they think about their own first day at school? Have they shared these memories with their colleagues? I don’t think I have spoken with any of my teaching collegues about their own memories of their first day at school. Im sure there are a wide range of happy memories and stories waiting to be shared!
Me on the left with my next door neighbour Jennifer on our first day of school!