For a teacher with nearly 20 years experience in the primary sector, for Julie Anne Brown, every year is an adventure and a new challenge is a way to up-skill and get the best out of the work life balance!
Mól an Óige is Tiocfaidh sí!
My alarm goes off typically at…
7am each morning. Getting my own three primary school children out the door and on the road at 8am is no mean feat but somehow we manage through listening to a combination of Galway Bay FM, Marty in the Morning on Lyric FM and ag eisteacht le Raidió na Gaeltachta chun ár nGaeilge a chur chun cinn. We are especially looking forward to Christmas FM starting again soon!
I am responsible for…
A kind and lively, yet very interesting, Rang 1 class in my primary school in Maigh
Cuilinn, Co na Gaillimhe. I also am in charge of ensuring that music is promoted and encouraged.
During the school year I organise music classes both during and after school in conjunction with
Maoin Cheoil na Gaillimhe in Galway City and Conradh na Gaeilge Mhaigh Cuilinn in Maigh Cuilinn.
Throughout the year there are other sacramental duties such as Communion and Confirmation and I
am currently practicing with the older classes for the upcoming Peace Proms Concert in January
2020. Tá an-suim agam sa Ghaeilge is táim ag iarriadh í a spreagadh an t-am uilig. Is ball mé de
Ghaeilge Mhaigh Cuilinn, cóiste a bhfuil freagrach den pleanáil teanga sa ceantar Mhaigh Cuilinn.
Throughout the year we have many events involving music education, concerts and performances
too. These greatly enhance and nurture all especially those who might not be very academic or
sporty. Fortunately, there is a strong appreciation of classical and traditional music in the community
and there are plenty of opportunities for the children to benefit from a wide and varied music
curriculum. This is a crucial time in a child’s life to gain a love of music and an insight into the value
of it too.
My typical day…
A busy day! I have three of my own children attending my school and combining
them with my class and work makes for both interesting and rewarding experiences. I am fortunate
enough to be in a position that I can value how much time and effort my children’s teachers put into
their education. Also it is a great advantage to have those different experiences as a working
mother, I am acutely aware of the needs and wants of the children in my class too. Little signs or
gestures can set the tone for the day in the class so observing the children as they come into class
can give valuable insights into the mood for the day. All staff completed a Mind-Up training seminar
at the start of the school year and implement Chime Time three times daily. It is a guided meditation
that lasts for 3 minutes using a chime and a script. It can calm the class and diffuse any situations
that might otherwise take 10-15 minutes after spraoi sa chlós. It has proved very beneficial so far this
year! After that we have singing and prayer time. I find the morning is an excellent time to start with
reading, writing, spellings and tables and have this time until 10.15 to complete the Obair Bhaile
preparation for that day. By 10.20 am we have all homework written down, homework folders put
away and time for a brain break which is usually Go Noodle. Go Noodle is an excellent way for
children to get moving in a structured way and the class love it! During the day there is always time
to sing and we use this as part of lessons transitions, recapping prior work and as a movement break
too. The core subjects are taught mid morning and in the afternoon too. We always make time for
Physical Literacy and ensure it is on our list for Obair Bhaile too. Whether it is to Run, Skip or Hop for
20 minutes, Dance to our favourite music for 20 minutes, Practice our Ballwork/ Ball Skills for 20
minutes or have Own Choice for 20 minutes, both children and families have seen a noticeable improvement in skills and abilities in the P.E. class. Art is another subject we integrate with most
subjects and it is relished in my class!
The best part of my job is…
Seeing the progress my class have made so far this year. I try to instill independence from day one and the benefits are showing now. Each child is responsible for their own belongings. They have to organise themselves and get ready to begin each day as soon as day they enter the class every morning. They all have a chance to be cinnere bord at least once a week and this provides ample movement and responsibility for the child in charge of their bord daily! Children also love being read to and singing whatever the language and in our class we sing so much. We make up so many rhymes and have fun with Gaeilge or the various languages some of the international children have as their heritage language, that they don’t realise they are replying by singing in that language. It becomes natural counting in Polish, French, German, Lithuanian, as Gaeilge or singing as Gaeilge, in Congolese, Chinese, Spanish or even Dutch. When children think in other languages it broadens their knowledge, and they become more empathetic to others. It also empowers them to think in lots of other ways, which is so essential in modern Ireland. I also love reading to the children and giving them a platform to perform too during storytime. Instilling a love of books and reading is very important in my class too. Books can really nurture the imagination, provide comfort and help children to build confidence.
The most challenging part of my job is…
Squeezing everything into the short school day, in addition to
all the paperwork. However, another challenge is to ensure that each child has their individual needs
met. I have a big class with a lot of abilities and needs. Everyday I make a consciously try to talk to
each child. This is a challenge but an important one. Once a child is content and feels valued in the
classroom, then they should learn, thrive and grow.
I am inspired by…
Many people I have met both personally and professionally. I am the only teacher in
my immediate family. My family work in other sectors but have always had a strong work ethos,
valued working alongside other professionals and been eager to learn and achieve more in the
business, engineering and medical sector. They have inspired me to further my education by
instilling a love of learning. I completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Special Needs Education from
NUIG in 2003. Furthermore, I received a Masters in Information Communications Technology in
Education in 2005 from UL . More recently, I have qualified as a “ColourStrings” music teacher and
also branched out into teaching music as Gaeilge outside of school. This has lead me to passionately
promote the Irish language though music and storytelling to a new generation countrywide.
I spend time on planning, corrections and often meet colleagues to discuss school related issues. Then I bring my own children to their activities, as we sing along in the car to various songs which keep us all le chéile! After homework and dinner, I might have choir practice, cubs or a meeting. Planning for school, music and storytelling workshops usually happens late in the evening when I feel most creative!
The motto I live by is…
Every day is a gift. My parents instilled that at an early age and it is
a motto I live by. I believe that we should always try to do our best. Be kind, humble and fair. You
never know what someone is going through. A smile or a chat can make a real difference.
“Colourstrings i nGaeilge” Classes are on Saturday mornings during school term in Galway city and in Moycullen, Co Galway too. Enquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or 091528965. I am also on Twitter as @J_A_deBrún and Instagram as @j_a_nagaillimhe for more up-to-date information on various workshops countrywide! Bígí linn!
Learn about Rahoo CPD Summer Courses approved for EPV Days HERE.