The Not-So-Secret Diary of a Teacher
Hi everyone, my name is Karen Riordan, otherwise known from my Instagram and Facebook Page as ‘Primary Links’. I am a mom of two energetic girls, a primary teacher for 16 years and currently training to be a Play Therapist and Creative Psychotherapist. I absolutely love my job and have a passion for Literacy Teaching and working with children with additional needs. I am a trained Reading Recovery Teacher and enjoy delivering webinars/workshops on effective grouped literacy instruction for Guided Reading and Literacy Lift Off. I have been teaching 1st class for the past three years and enjoy working on the In-school Management Team also. Last year I had the opportunity to develop a Yearly planner for Special Education Teachers and have loved that experience.
2021/22 is on the way, watch this space!
My alarm goes off…
..and no time to waste!
With having two girls to get out the door and myself I pull myself up and get dressed (have to say I rarely jump out of the bed, unless I am running late). Have a quick breakfast, make the lunches while the girls eat, pack the school bags, teeth, hair, quick tidy up and out the door. Drop the girls to the minders and head for school. I like to take time in the car to just enjoy the quiet…no radio!
Mornings are manic, imagine to say going in to school to 25 seven years old helps me regulate (I must be a teacher!).
I am responsible for…
25 fantastic 1st class children. They are my number one once I head in that door.
I am a member of the ISM also so my duties involve the Supervision Rota (which has been challenging to say the least this year), Literacy and supporting with overall management of the daily school life.
I am a trained mentor with NIPT since 2009 and have loved supporting many of my colleagues through their Probation year. We are currently training for Droichead and am delighted to be on the PST.
Outside of school, I am currently studying as a Play Therapist and Creative Psychotherapist with Children’s Therapy Centre.
So, there is a lot of responsibility in terms of balancing school, college and home life. So far, so good.
My typical day…
Once I have completed my first job of getting everyone to where they need to be by 9am I begin my official working day.
I always start my day with a wellbeing activity. I think it is so important that we give both pupils and ourselves time to settle into our environment, regulate ourselves and get ready for learning. I always think about the busy households’ children are coming from and they absolutely need that time to come in and just settle (me included!). These activities generally are based on creative arts, yoga and mindful activities. The children love them and it is what they expect each day.
My timetable is very structured and I do my best to stick to that unless there is an interruption. Every day is very different as I have to work closely with my SETs in terms of timetabling various initiatives. The current initiatives I have running in my class are Guided Reading, Mata sa Rang and Words Their Way. I have really focused on the core subjects and wellbeing since we returned in September. That is where the needs lie.
The best part of my job…
Hearing those lovely little laughs, the sounds of children playing in the yard and witnessing the ‘aha’ moments. I love working with my colleagues, they are super heroes at what they do and I am so luck to be part of such an amazing, motivated and committed team. I also love sharing my passion for Literacy and SEN. I have delivered face to face workshops for over 10 years and love meeting teachers who are ready to reflect and try something new.
The most challenging part of my job is…
teacher guilt…but I am getting better about this.
Sometimes it easy to fall into the trap of feeling you are not doing enough. I think having worked in Special Education for nine years and then returning to the classroom it can be hard to try to find the balance between meeting everyone’s needs and physically being able to do that with such large class sizes.
We all know there is never enough time, resources or personnel to do it the way you would like to but it is important to take it easy on ourselves. I have learned that what I am doing is good enough!
I am inspired by…
As I mentioned already I am inspired by our amazing staff. I am inspired by the struggling parents who are trying their best and get their kids to school no matter what. I am inspired by the amazing teachers I have met on my journey of CPD delivery. I am inspired by the amazing teachers I have met through social media who readily share some amazing and innovative ideas. I am inspired by the fantastic lecturers I am meeting in my play therapy training, who truly know what children need to thrive.
Finally, I am inspired by the wonderful children I get the pleasure of working with everyday, they are why we all do what we do!
Music time! I love to listen to music and to sing. I find it therapeutic and take the time on my way home to enjoy that. I go back to my first job then, collect my girls and have some playtime before bed. I may then have to do a little study or work on assignments or prepare something for school the next day but it is a labour of love. The readings I am doing for my course are really enlightening and the more I read the more I wish every teacher could have the opportunity to learn about what needs to be in place before a child is ready for learning.
The motto I live by…
Work hard, play hard!
People often ask me ‘How do you do it all?’. If I have a drive to do something then I generally work hard to get it. I have to admit though the ‘play hard’ bit has become a little lost during this pandemic. There are a lot of things I would love to do more of like visit my family in Cork, socialise with friends, get back to singing with my choir, go to a concert and travel!
So, my ‘play’ right now is taking rest and minding myself. Something we all may need to make sure we are taking time to do and remember, what you are doing is good enough!
A huge thank you to Karen for sharing her not-so-secret diary!
Would you like to share your diary or like to suggest a teacher or education professional whose diary you would like to read?!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate yourself or someone else – ah go on!
NQT Picnic is a specially designed online event for NQT’s in July 2022.
It is a daunting experience starting your very first teaching position – whether it is subbing or your own post! College seems like a long time ago now and you may be starting to feel a tad nervous.
Following the huge success of NQT Fest & Picnic in 2021, we are delighted to share this special event for NQT’s in July 2022 with you!
Free Resource for Teachers – End of School Year Activities!
What an exciting time of the year! Your main lessons and topics are complete and the pupils are getting excited for their summer holidays. It can be a challenging time to keep pupils engaged in classroom lessons due to exciting events on the horizon like school tours or sports days, so I like to keep things light and fun and still try to ensure the learning is taking place.
Ciara McGuane is the Summer Course Director for Rahoo.ie.
Her career highlights include being filmed by BBC London teaching in the classroom and guest-lecturing at the Institute of Education in London. She has worked as a teacher, school leader, teacher trainer and initial teacher training tutor prior to setting up Rahoo.
This is always a hot topic for teachers and so important to get it right.
Here are some mistakes that teachers have shared with us when they did our EPV Summer Course on Classroom Management with Niamh Byrne, Irish Primary Teacher.
We have dipped in and out of the CPD course to learn what to do instead!
Why do we remember the words of lyrics we haven’t heard in years? Why do some experiences stick in our heads more than others? Something made them memorable!
Make your lessons stick by trying to make some aspect of it different. This could be as simple as playing music (we have played classical music when students were working independently in the past) or hooking them into the lesson with mystery tasks or controversial questions that spark debate.
When planning ask yourself: What can I do to make this lesson memorable?