The Not-So-Secret Diary of a Teacher
Trina Golden – Primary Principal of a new school, Owenabue Educate Together in Carrigaline, Cork. Previously the Principal of Ennis Educate Together. A big fan of a 20 part twitter thread @catrionagolden or my newly discovered love of Instagram Q&A sessions @_fromtinyacorns_. Passionate about equality based education, additional needs, educational disadvantage and trauma informed approaches.
My alarm goes off…
multiple times during the night. She’s one of the old-fashioned live models. We’re generally up for the day about 6am. Out the door for 7.30am with one of the kids to drop to the childminder, the other left behind with his dad to drop him to school.
I am responsible for…
everything really. I don’t have to do everything myself, I have a wonderful team, but at the end of the day the buck stops with the Principal. It’s a privilege but also a weighty responsibility to have the learning and education of a school full of children on your shoulders.
Psst… Read more diaries from school principals HERE!
My typical day...
I arrive at school everyday around 8am. The next half hour is spent in the staffroom, breakfast, chats with staff, welcoming subs, checking email etc. We open our doors at 8:40 so I’m welcoming the kids at that point.
I’m currently a teaching Principal in SET so then 9-1:20 is teaching time unless I’m on an admin day (we only have infants currently, hence the shorter day.
Then there’s meetings, returning calls and all the admin until around 3.
At 3 I head home to take over from my husband with childcare for our eldest. 3.30-5 is juggling childcare with more admin work until finishing time at 4.45. I’m done for the day at 4.45, bar sub hunting or an emergency.
The best part of my job is...
The ‘sparkle’ moments. Seeing the kids bouncing into school everyday when you greet them. The hugs. Seeing kids absolutely blossom within months. Seeing integration and inclusion everyday. Seeing the relationships between staff and kids, The kids telling you that school makes them feel happy. Hot choc Friday. Wednesday Assemblies. The privilege of making a difference in a child’s life, and indirectly positively impacting the lives of all our pupils. I adore my job.
The most challenging part of my job is…
The fighting for everything. Not having a permanent building. The numbers game of a developing school. The lack of adequate resources and the constant fight for more. The initiative overload and the absolute lack of a right to disconnect. The utter lack of respect from the Department of Education.
I am inspired by…
My number 1 tip for teachers is…
Relationships, relationships, relationships. With the kids, with colleagues, with the parents. Effective learning doesn’t happen without strong relationships. Rita Pearson (and inspiration) says kids don’t learn from people they don’t like. I wouldn’t go that far; they don’t have to like you, certainly not every day! But kids don’t learn unless they truly believe to their core that you care about them. You care about their learning.
Look at the kids in front of you. Forget the curriculum for a minute, forget the books, forget the programmes. Look at the kids. Really get to know them. Then you’ll be able to effectively teach them, starting from where they are, not from where the book says they should be.
And enjoy it. Yep, there will be tough days, but if there are more tough days than happy days, start looking elsewhere. A fresh start, a new setting, new colleagues or a new place can completely change your experience of teaching. Different schools fit different people, different cultures work better for different people. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that and to look for something that’s a better fit.
My favourite teaching & learning strategy is…
Freeflow indoor/outdoor child led play. Whether you call it your Aistear time or your play time or whatever. Whether you have the space to have it outdoors or if indoor is your only option. Make it child led, let them freeflow, have clear goals and watch the magic.
5-7 is pretty much chaos in our house. Dinners, playtime outside, tidying up, ready for bed. Kids go to bed and I either go do something (swimming lessons, Gaelic 4 Mothers and Others) or I collapse on the couch and chill. Bed early in preparation for that alarm clock.
The motto I live by…
It’ll be grand. It will. Nothing you do or don’t do today or tomorrow is irreversible. It is a job. Do it well, do the absolute best you can be. Be vulnerable and be willing to look for support. But it’s ‘just’ a job. Work-life balance is not optional, a burnt out teacher or Principal is no use to anyone. So give yourself a break, go again and change things if it’s not working for you.
A huge thank you to Trina for sharing her not-so-secret diary – we’re feeling the passion and honesty and love it!
Would you like to share your diary or like to suggest a teacher, principal, SNA or education professional whose diary you would like to read?! Contact us at email@example.com to nominate yourself or someone else – ah go on!
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Did you know that 74% of teachers do not feel confident with formative assessment teaching methodologies?
As we approach the new school year, this survey conducted by Rahoo Training in 2020, and its findings, should be at the forefront of a school leader’s mind.
Webinar 8th November 2023: How to Enhance the Teaching & Learning of Maths with Formative Assessment
“How to Enhance the Teaching & Learning of Maths with Formative Assessment” is 1 hour in duration including Q&A opportunities.
This webinar will be hosted by a Nadine Lyons, Maths Lead Practitioner at South View School Dubai.