Primary Teaching – Student Profile Jennifer Coffey

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Jennifer Coffey wanted a change of career. She decided to retrain as a primary school teacher. Here she tells us about her experience.

Name: Jennifer Coffey

College: Hibernia College Dublin

Course: Higher Diploma in Arts in Primary Education

Wanting to make a difference

Encountering people in life who exemplified this disposition inspired me to change career and move into education. Already fully qualified as a Fellow Accountant (FCCA) and as an experienced Six Sigma Black Belt Project Manager with a leading American multinational, I decided that I’d rather contribute to children’s education than to corporate profits – I wanted to help make a difference.

I chose to study for the HDip in Arts in Primary Education with Hibernia College Dublin. This is an innovative online postgraduate course which facilitates attaining a formally recognised teaching qualification while continuing to work. Delivered over two years it comprises online and onsite tuition with practical in-school teacher training and a period in the Gaeltacht.

Although flexible in terms of changing career, it was also very intense! Despite attaining all prior professional qualifications while working full-time, I was still challenged by this. Applying oneself to distance learning and study is one aspect, however there is no substitute for real-life experience. Observing proficient teachers in the primary school environment proved fundamental to enhancing my awareness and effectiveness in the classroom. This is a key part of the teaching practice blocks. Working as a substitute teacher throughout the course also helped me to hone my skills.

Recognising a pupil’s strengths, interests and needs

Getting to know each child is essential. This is because teachers must recognise their individual strengths, interests and needs. In primary schools this extends beyond the focus on literacy, numeracy and academic skills. It aims to nurture and facilitate each child. Enhancing the full scope of their capabilities, talents, creativity, social skills, morals and self-esteem makes it a challenging profession, but one that can be very rewarding.

I particularly love to see the children lighting up with enthusiasm, and thinking critically and creatively as they develop a deeper understanding of concepts and engage in team sharing activities. Children learn from each other as much as from their teachers. Getting them working together and their feedback contributes greatly to effective teaching and learning. I find that varying activities using child-centred active-discovery methods with tangible materials, interactive games, team challenges, group and pair work (incorporating music, role-play and ICT) works particularly well. It facilitates a fun-filled learning environment.

Hibernia College Dublin

Hibernia graduates are highly regarded by the teaching community, with well developed ICT skills, and Infant and Special Educational Needs teaching practice. They often bring a valuable degree of life and work experience too.

Having completed my probation teaching requirements post qualification, I am delighted to have secured permanent teaching status, working currently in Learning Support with the Patrician PS, Newbridge and St. Peter’s PS, Monasterevin.  This role branches into specialised areas encouraging further research and skills development.

Teaching is a continuous learning process but I always try to apply the following philosophies that help inspire me:

• See the world through the eyes of a child, with the wisdom of the ages

• Mol an Óige agus tiocfaidh sí!


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