Transition Day

So with a job organised, the wheels were truly set in motion for the big move to the UK. The agency organised for me to go back to my school in July in order to meet the staff again and to meet the class I would teach in September. I arrived at the school with a list of questions as long as my arm but the majority were answered without me even having to ask. I was panicking about planning and the difference in the curriculum (be thankful for strands and strand units!). But as an NQT, I am appointed a mentor to provide support and guidance through the induction process. My mentor provided me with vital information and as well as reassurance which helped me no end. Each teacher is given a slot in their timetable for PPA (planning, preparation and assessment time) in order to help with their existing workload. I will be entitled to that as well as an additional slot for NQT time in order to further relieve the workload. Music to my ears!

Before the holidays begin, the school has a ‘Transition Day’ where each class spends the morning with their new teacher. The head teacher had asked me to prepare ‘getting to know you’ activities to do that morning and I enjoyed it immensely. When I gave the children an opportunity to give me advice about living in the area, they made sure I knew there was a McDonalds nearby but also suggested some tourist sites I might like to visit. I couldn’t help but laugh when one child asked if we had electricity in Ireland. I played games which allowed me not just to get the children, but them to get to know me also which I feel helped a sense of trust to start developing. I also created a worksheet to provide me with information about how the children liked to learn, e.g. I work best sitting at my desk, yes or no. As well as meeting my class and my mentor that day, I also met with their current class teacher in order to learn some more about the children and the various supports that they might need.

That night back at the hotel, I was once again filled with a mixture of anxiousness and excitement. And tiredness. Can’t forget the tiredness.New terminology and unfamiliar acronyms floated around in my head. After a few deep breaths and comparing notes with my friend who had also been given lots to think about, I thought aboutthe promises of support my mentor (and many other staff members) had given me and hoped it would all eventually fall into place. The information I had received was important and valuable so I took to my journal when I got back to Ireland to try and make sense of it all.

After the transition day, we headed straight to apartment viewings as it was something we wanted to organise sooner rather than later. The following day, we found an apartment we adored and we collected the keys this week. The ferry is booked so we will be setting sail in 2 weeks.

The next step is to get planning and organising my classroom and displays. Wish me luck!


The Non Standard Applicant

Upon completing year 4 of the B.Ed., your thoughts are supposed to turn straight to subbing worries, how to fill a standard application form and how youwill ensure that you stand out from my newly qualified colleagues, right? Wrong. Not if you were successful at interview for a full time teaching position at the end of March. The catch, I hear you ask? The first leg of my commute to work begins with a trip across the Irish Sea.

At a time when final exams were looming and assignment deadlines were fast approaching, we were sitting on the steps of our house discussing what the future might hold. A friend had told us about her experience with an agency in England and as she shared the details, it all sounded too good to be true. The agency book your flights, pick you up from the airport, ferry you around to schools with positions available and put you up in a hotel. I felt as though there was nothing to lose so my friend and I got in touch.

One phone call later and a hopping WhatsApp group was formed, flights were booked for the end of March and the wheels were set in motion. It was so straight forward that I spent the next few days wondering what the catch would be. So often, we had been warned about the dangers of teaching in the UK – the parents are impossible, the standards are too high, the paperwork is insurmountable and the behaviour is unimaginable. I decided to get some more balanced advice rather than listen to these sweeping generalisations and soon after we landed in England.

I had no expectations for the trip, which I think worked in my favour. Because of the mountain of college work and other commitments I had, I didn’t have long to prepare for the interviews and I didn’t know the names of the schools so I couldn’t learn anything about them! I just knew I had to prepare a 20-minute numeracy or literacy lesson, so I put most of my effort into that as well as reading about the curriculum. I was told that the interview would be ‘informal’ so I didn’t worry too much about it.

On the morning I arrived, I was picked up and taken straight to school. We visited four different schools with various positions available over the next two days and the only complaint I have was that it was pretty tiring! The interview process involves 3 separate steps making it quite different to the Irish system. At each school I had to teach a lesson, complete a written activity and have a short interview. Each school did this differently which kept me on my toes but because I had no expectations, it was hard to be too nervous.

I was thrilled to hear from the agency that I had been offered a position at a Catholic Primary School which seemed similar in set up to an Irish Primary School. The interesting thing about working with the agency is that they want to ensure that the school suits you and not just the other way around! I accepted the position and since then I have been excited (and nervous) for the next chapter of my life as a newly qualified teacher. One of the best things about all of this, of course, is that upon successfully completing my NQT year in the UK, my qualification will be converted back and I will have completed by induction process with a year of teaching experience in my back pocket.

Moral of the story: don’t panic! There are other ways and means of getting to where we need to be. I hope to share my other experiences and escapades with you soon.