Occupations in the education sector comprise of the Teachers, Lecturers and Trainers operating in the Primary, Post-Primary and Tertiary education system.
There are specific requirements for students who want to become a teachers, depending on whether it is at Primary, Secondry or Tertiary level.
Paul Galvan is a Resource Teacher working in the Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge, Co Kildare. He decided to study for a B.A Honours in Geography and French following his Leaving Cert, as these were subject that he had a great interest in. He was then eligible to study for the H. Dip in Education, which he carried out in NUI Maynooth .
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Describe a typical day?
I usually arrive in school about 8:15. Classes don’t start until 9:00 but I like to get some corrections and preparation done first. I would usually have between 6 and 9 class periods each day. Each class lasts 40 minutes.
On a typical day I would teach a variety of different classes and age groups, ranging from first year through to Leaving Cert. At 11:00 there is a ten minute break. Some days I would be required to supervise the corridors at this time.
After break there are two more classes before lunch at 12:25. Lunch is a good chance to catch up with colleagues in the staff room. At 1:25 class starts again. There are 4 classes in the afternoon with school finishing at 4pm.
I coach the school soccer team so I might have a training session for an hour and a half after school. Other days I might have to supervise in-school study for 2 hours. If I’m not doing extra curricular activities or study I usually stay in school and do some corrections, photocopying and preparations.
There is quite an amount of paperwork involved for a resource teacher as daily logs of student’s progress and activities must be kept. I might also use this time to update a student’s individual education plan (I.E.P) and make changes based on my assessment of their progress this week.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
The primary task of the resource teacher is the teaching of students with special educational needs (SEN). The resource teacher forms part of the SEN support team in the school.
The SEN support team is usually made up of the Principal, deputy Principal, Guidance Counsellor, Learning Support Co-ordinator and Learning Support Teacher. This team works closely with mainstream Teachers in identifying and providing support for students with SEN.
The daily tasks of a resource teacher consist of providing specific support in literacy and maths to students with SEN. This support would usually take the form of a tailored educational programme which takes account of the student’s specific needs.
The resource teacher would also provide for the students social and life skills development. The Resource Teacher is also responsible for the formal and informal assessment of students with SEN. Together with other members of the SEN team the Resource Teacher is responsible for the selection and implementation of tests to assess a student’s progress. This assessment usually takes the form of diagnostic testing as well as in-school assessment.
The gathering of information from outside professionals for use in I.E.P’s is another task for the Resource Teacher. This information is sourced from Psychologists, Speech Therapists etc,. As this information is of a sensitive nature utmost discretion is important.
What are the main challenges?
The main challenges revolve around trying to ensure that you are achieving the best learning outcomes for students. Prioritising learning needs for students can be challenging, as there are often subtle learning difficulties which can prove difficult to target.
Encouraging positive self esteem in students with SEN is another challenge, as often students with SEN feel left behind. This can result in behavioural issues and low self esteem.
Lastly, special education is an evolving area of expertise and there is a need to continually update skills and keep abreast of current research and best practice. Continual professional development is very important for a resource teacher.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
For my Leaving Certificate I studied English, Irish, Maths, Physics, French, Geography and History. My favourite subjects were Geography, Physics, French and English. I knew that I would like to study a combination of these subjects in further education. I think as regards a career path it’s a good idea to study subjects you like and are good at.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
What is your dream job?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
Yes it’s always necessary to keep up to date with best practice in special education. I have completed a Cert. in Dyslexia which is DES (Department of Education and Science) approved. In the future I intend to study for a Masters degree. I also read books and publications on special education and teaching methodology.