Young teachers take the pain
MY EDUCATION WEEK:Helen Bullock Newly-qualified teacher, Limerick
School starts tomorrow. It’s strange to think that this year I’m among the masses getting ready for “September 1st”. When I was a child I used to hear “September 1st” with dread. I hope the children I teach this year don’t feel that same anxiety going to school.
Being a substitute teacher means I’ll be in and out of various classes and levels. Preparing for the new school year as a substitute teacher is very different to what it entails for other teachers. It’s tricky to know exactly what supplies are needed or what to prepare, but I’m gradually starting to gather my books and resources. I have loads of lesson plan ideas and things I want to teach. I feel like I’ve been gathering lesson plans and ideas all my life if I’m honest.
I’ve always wanted to teach and I find it very hard to pass a bookshop or anywhere where there might be school resources. I can’t imagine being anything other than a teacher. I love being at the top of a classroom and watching my pupils as they learn and work hard to understand something new. I feel very satisfied knowing that what I’m teaching them is something they will need and hopefully remember for the rest of their lives.
I’m subbing in a 5th class this week. Standing in front of the class today was amazing. I began with Gaeilge, a subject within my comfort zone. Not every everyone loves Gaeilge but I do and I love teaching it so it was a fantastic way to start the day. I try to bring a little drama into the subject as much as possible. I want the pupils I’m teaching to learn to love it as I do so I try to make it a fun experience. I even incorporate it into my PE lessons so that Gaeilge becomes part of the norm.
The staffroom can be a little daunting, especially if you don’t know any of the other teachers. Everyone I met today was lovely. It was great to hear how other teachers work in their rooms and their many experiences. We chatted about various subjects and the ones we like to teach in comparison to the ones we feel less comfortable with. I was afraid I would be the only one who felt weaker in some subjects then others, but I was completely wrong. Every teacher finds some subjects harder to teach than others and it was very comforting to hear that. We don’t have to be experts on everything we teach. I will never be a great historian but that won’t ever stop me teaching my classes about the Famine, the Celts or the history of our locality.
Today in the staffroom we had an awkward discussion about inequality between the newer, younger teachers and the older teaching staff in regards to pay and conditions. It’s not a topic I love talking about. It can be really difficult to get my point across when I know that other teachers the same age as me, but who maybe qualified a year or two before me, will be higher paid for the rest of my professional career. Teachers starting their careers now will be paid around 34 per cent less than those who started in 2010. It’s heartbreaking if I’m being honest. I’d even go as far as saying it is soul-destroying. That kind of money would make a huge difference to my life and the lives of other young teachers.