All about me!

Hi to all reading this. To start with I guess I should introduce myself and let you know a little bit about me. So here goes!

My name is Lisa and I am an Irish Primary School Teacher. I am in my ninth year of teaching and love it as much now, as I did on my first day. I took a slightly longer route into the teaching profession, completing my Arts degree in French and English in UCD followed by a PGCE in the UK. I moved to the UK with the full intention of returning after completing my year of study but was fortunate enough to be offered a job in my final placement school which allowed me to complete my NQT year. It was an amazing school and an offer that I guess I couldn’t refuse! I stayed a further 4 years teaching across a range of ages and gained valuable experience with Co-Ordinator roles in EYFS (equivalent to Junior Infants), KS1 Literacy, whole school Art Co-ordinator and Design and Technology Co-ordinator.

I loved my time teaching in the UK and was extremely fortunate to have worked with and learned from some of the most inspiring and talented teachers you could imagine but as the big 3-0 birthday loomed I got itchy feet and decided to return home to Ireland.

This was a big step for me. I had a permanent job, was moving up the career ladder, had amazing friends, a ‘family’ away from home and a super support system around me but I have always been a home bird at heart and knew I wouldn’t fully settle anywhere but Ireland. With that, I also knew there was a lot of uncertainty with moving home. Would I get a job? What would I have to do to get my qualifications fully recognised? Would Ireland be the same as I remembered or would it be a “grass is always greener” scenario that I would regret? How long would it take to get a permanent job/job stability? Would I be able to adapt my teaching style to the Irish curriculum and expectations? Basically, life seemed up in the air for quite a while!

I was very fortunate that my lovely principal (head teacher) in England asked me to take a career break instead of handing in my resignation as this allowed me to figure out if I wanted to move home permanently without giving up my permanency straight away. It gave me a bit of a buffer really and took some of the pressure off. I had made contact with some teacher friends before making the move home and they reassured me that all would be fine and that the country was crying out for substitutes. I decided that I would ease myself in gently and spent my first term home volunteering while on career break (contractually couldn’t work!) and then once I decided I was here to stay I spent the rest of the year subbing across a range of schools to familiarise myself with the National Curriculum, build up a contact list and get better understanding of the inner workings of schools here. I was incredibly lucky to have an abundance of subbing days and actually ended up turning down schools and being booked up weeks in advance so this was great for both my confidence and bank balance!

Once I felt confident in my knowledge of the National Curriculum I decided to apply for Resource Teaching jobs (Special Education has always been of huge interest to me) and was again very fortunate to get a shared resource job across 3 schools. Although the travelling was tough at times, I really loved my year in Resource. I felt it gave me a chance to put my knowledge of SEN to good use and my talent of being an organisation obsessed freak really stood to me! It was also a year in which I deepened my love for Special Education Teaching and I guess the reason I made the jump to teaching in an ASD specific class.

I am now preparing to go into my third year working as an ASD class teacher in one of the schools that I taught in as a Resource Teacher and so far, I love it. Don’t get me wrong, it is extremely challenging and perhaps not for everyone but I feel as though I have found my niche. My fellow teachers are so supportive and understanding of the needs of the children in my class and happy to help out in any way they can and this makes such a huge difference. I am also blessed to work alongside 2 of the most amazing SNAs and together we have created a class that works for our children, parents and us as educators. This year I will have children ranging from 2nd to 6th class so my organisational skills and love of planning have once again stood to me. I will admit that my first year in the class was one of the hardest years of work that I have put in in my career to date but it was worth it to have our ASD class set up the way we wanted it (obviously always looking for ways to improve but I think that’s a given in this job, isn’t it? The day I don’t want to make improvements will be the day that tells me that I need to leave this profession!)

Having felt pretty settled in my class and somewhat organised I decided that this would be the year that I would give Instagram a go and see if there were other teachers out there like me so I set up an Instagram Account (@ASDCreationStation) to share ideas, resources and general information that has helped me on my journey thus far. I have been loving how supportive, genuine and friendly everyone I have come across has been. However, I have also been saddened by some of the messages I have received from like minded teachers, particularly those who are teaching in ASD classes and are feeling quite isolated and alone. I absolutely have days like this too but luckily the great days outweigh the hard ones but I know this isn’t the case for all. The general consensus from people messaging me was that there wern’t that many blogs/forums for ASD class teachers and this is why I have decided to give this a go. A motto I live by is “nothing ventured, nothing gained” so here goes. As I say to anyone who messages me, I am nowhere near being an expert on ASD and in reality I am only starting out on this journey but I hope I might be able to offer some small bits of advice or experience and maybe give fellow teachers, parents, families a forum in which ideas, expertise, information and knowledge can be shared.

So that’s me I guess, or at least part of me. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know me a little. Here’s to the start of a new adventure.

Remember you can follow me on @ASDCreationStation on Instagram and feel free to message me if I can be of any help!

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