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Failing my teacher training maths skills test was a blessing in disguise

As I sit on the train on my way to school in South London, I have eventually gathered the courage to write my next blog.

Let me set the scene. A year ago today, I applied to UCAS England to become a Primary Education teacher. At that time, my career direction was up in limbo, as I was not fully engaged with teaching the whole curriculum, rather I wanted to create a legacy in primary physical education.

Exactly ten months later, my body was filled with anguish and disappointment. This was mainly due to the fact that I failed my Maths skills test; thus preventing me from starting my P.G.C.E course (teaching training course) and from filling in another piece of my life journey jigsaw.

To top it all off, my girlfriend had passed both her skills tests and was accepted on to the same course. It was a horrible situation to be in. As much as I tried, I could not mask my feelings of hurt and confusion and found it difficult to support and be happy for her. Instead, I focused on gathering my feelings of sorrow and pushing them deep down in to the back of my mind.

Unfortunately, the wretched feeling of failure became too much, as I began to believe that society was looking down at me. While growing up in Ireland, I got the impression that you must sail through each life milestone that you come up against: you need to go to school to get to university; you need to go to Uni to get a job; you need to get a job to earn money; you need money to buy a house and material items such as holidays abroad and designer clothes. It’s awful to think that the culture that I was brought up in had shaped a part of my present personal identity and was subconsciously weighing me down.

It was during that time that I eventually opened my door of emotional perseverance, which resulted in my graduation blues eventually subsiding. The once slowly burning flames of my candle of faith were now growing higher each day.

After two successful teaching weeks had passed, I received an email from the St. Mary’s University Postgraduate team, where I had been accepted on to a Masters degree in Physical Education. Perhaps this was the key that I was waiting to find. The key that would give me a deeper understanding of the world in which I situate myself, in both a teaching and academic sense and that would later develop in to a domino effect of career opportunities.

Each experience we have in life, even if it is a negative one, positively influences our future careers, lives and selves. Failing the skills test didn’t mean that I was a failure. Although it made me question why I was put here on earth and if I was even meant to be a teacher, it was a ‘blessing in disguise’ as it allowed me to take more time to understand what professional career best suits me for the future, and it allowed me to take the time to show more gratitude towards my girlfriend.

 

 

 

Sometimes I look up at the barren trees in Winter and prepare to plant the Spring seeds of greatness.

As I stand on a crowded South West Train on my way to Christmas dinner in Tooting Broadway, I reflect upon my first experience of working in a primary school as a Physical Education Specialist.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that it was all plain sailing. Just imagine going into a sweet shop with a blind fold and randomly picking twenty sweets. Those sweets represent the mixture of emotions that I have felt over the last four months. 

By combining teaching with studying, it has allowed me to engage with both the practical and theoretical elements of primary physical education.  As a reflective practitioner, sometimes it is difficult to stop myself from becoming too critical of the world that I situate myself in. However, I argue that it may be even more detrimental to an individuals life journey, if they do not know when to say that they have had enough.

Most people think that their first job after university sets the tone for their future career; I also agree with this, as I suggest that it is used as a foundation for bigger things to come. Just imagine waking up one morning at twenty one years of age and realising that you have reached your peak and you cannot surpass that marker for the rest of your years. Its pretty scary isn’t it!

During my time in primary education, I had many positive experiences. For example, I enjoyed working with different age ranges such as Nursery, Key Stage One and Key Stage Two, where I have improved my ability to manage behaviour in the classroom and to reflect on the spot and change lessons accordingly. Furthermore, I enjoyed the simple everyday interactions that I made with individuals in the school. In this instance, I loved the feeling of walking through the school and meeting children in the hallway, smiling and saying good morning Mr. Gallagher, even though it was 2 o’ clock in the day. Talking to the Italian janitor about his passion for Chelsea football club and listening to teachers complaining about the Southern trains and their continuous delays. 

Currently, I have started my third term of teaching and as a result, my opinions have changed. In the past, I thought that my first job as a Primary P.E Specialist was where I wanted to be in life. However, after working in this setting for almost four months, and continuously reflecting on my experiences, I have decided otherwise. I argue that this job is just the tip of the ice-berg, as I sense that there is a world of opportunities that will unravel from this experience.

In my opinion, so many individuals (including myself) in this world are too afraid to take a situational step backwards in their careers as they feel that this will stop them from developing professionally. However, I argue otherwise, as I feel that if God did not help me to retrace my steps and work in the primary school environment, I would have missed out on a piece of my life journey jigsaw.

As we are coming towards the end of Winter and the beginning of the new season Spring, I cannot but relate this to my primary education career, where I look forward to the prospect of change and growth in relation to my professional development.

‘Sometimes I look up at the barren trees in Winter, and prepare to plant the Spring seeds of greatness’.

Sometimes it takes heartache and disappointment to discover your true identity

As a 3rd Year University student of Physical Education with Geography, I have looked back on my time studying over seas and wondered what would have happened if I had never left.     

About three years ago, when I was finishing my final year of school, my target was to become a Secondary P.E teacher. I knew that it was what I wanted to do, but deep down I had a feeling that I would not be able to achieve the necessary points.

As a result, I looked to other universities outside of Ireland for guidance. One of my team mates had moved to Liverpool the two years previous and I was intrigued by the numerous possibilities that moving away from the motherland would bring.

By meeting up with the school learning advisor once a week, it allowed me to draft ideas of my next academic destination at home or abroad. Strawberry Hill teaching College, or St. Mary’s University Twickenham, which is what it is known as today, was highlighted as the best fit; resulting in the sending of an application form so that the waiting game could commence. 
                                                              The morning of my results day had come along quickly and my family and friends showed their support, for me whatever the result. From what I remember, all of my friends had achieved to the best of their abilities, which was nice to hear, however not everyone was content.

That experience was the most vivid and upsetting of my life so far, as I felt as if I had lost my identity. Many questions were going through my head when I did not receive the offer that I was expecting from Ireland, such as what were people going to think of me and what was I going to do with my life?

Over the next few days my mother consolidated me and tried to bring some motivation back in to my life. She used the expression everything happens in life for a reason but I was not one bit impressed.

However, after a few days had passed, I had just returned from my job as a waiter in the local cafe, when the post man arrived at the door. Tearing open one of the letters revealed a note of acceptance to St. Mary’s, Twickenham.

At first, I didn’t know what to think. I knew it would be expensive to study in London, but I felt that it was a challenge that I was willing to accept.

This event will stay close to me for the rest of my years. Not because my mother was correct, but because God had chosen a different pathway for me to go down, where my transition from Ireland to London would allow me to discover my true identity as an Irish teacher living in the United Kingdom.