Have you ever considered a career in teaching but thought it wasn’t possible for you? There are more ways to become a teacher than ever before, and people of all backgrounds are choosing to make their mark as a teacher.
And it's no surprise that it's one of the most fulfilling career paths to go down.
But don't take it from us. We caught up with people from a range of diverse backgrounds who are either studying, on placement or well into their teaching career. They explained to us their reasons for choosing their journey, what it was like to get there and why they're happy with their choice.
Josh hails from Cork and is currently a student-teacher (post-primary level). He explained to us how teaching is more than the simple transfer of knowledge. It's also about looking after the emotional wellbeing of your students:
"You should always try to promote positivity, even if it’s just about the school work. Seeing them coming out of your classroom with a smile on their face, that makes their day a little bit better and it should make your day better as well."
"I want students to know that I’m there for them. There were a few teachers in my school whose subjects weren’t my strongest, but just having a conversation with them about anything, even if it was about the subject, was great. Just having those kids know that you’re there for them if they need a hand, and that support is there if they need it. Obviously, you have to look after the academic side of things as well, but if you can promote the two of them together, that’s even better."
Ciara Henriques is an art teacher at post-primary level. She echoed Josh's sentiment about going above and beyond simply teaching the academics. She explained to us how her students' feelings, stresses and emotions are always valid and how she tries to create a safe space in her classroom for them to be themselves and share what's going on.
"Kids have good days and bad days just like us, and you have to accept that they’re not all on all the time. They’re not happy all the time, they have stuff going on that we don’t know about. It’s important for us as teachers and educators to make them know that you see them and accept them. They are who they are.
"There are so many rewarding elements to teaching, and for me, it has never been about the kids getting the amazing grades. Yes, that’s a lovely bonus, but when you’re in a classroom and you’re working with kids and they realise they have succeeded themselves, that they’ve managed to create, design or draw something that they thought was beyond them, that realisation from them that they can do even better than they thought, it’s that kind of reaction in them that makes it worthwhile."
"The art teacher who inspired me, I took over from her when she retired and I actually have her old job. She was a real character. Nothing was too much for her. She used to give us art history lessons using images of images she had taken herself. It was her passion that seeped down into us."
Rory Brown is also a student-teacher at primary level. Having grown up in foster care, Rory explains why he felt the teaching route was for him.
"Firstly, it's seeing children succeed. You have your day-to-day where you see them improve their knowledge and skills through your teaching. The most important thing, I think, is that you build a relationship and trust with the children and watching them develop actual life skills. The people that they're going to be, you shape them towards that.
"Two teachers were very instrumental for me. They helped me deal with the foster care part of my life and helped me understand that it doesn't matter what, you still have your education and people who care for you, and you'll always have that trust in a relationship with a teacher."
Daire Stafford is a student-teacher at post-primary level with an undeniable love of art. She explained to us how her job is more than just teaching her students art. Through teaching the subject and various other meaningful efforts, Daire's says that her main job is nurturing the kids in her class.
"Helping kids is definitely the most rewarding part. Sitting down with them and helping them feel like they’re not so small, helping them feel like they have a purpose, helping them get excited about achieving something.
"To me, that little extra help is what’s going to get me really excited. To know that kid was struggling and now they are doing even better than they expected. I want to give them something to look forward to, helping them feel seen and accepted and excited."
Ceelan Simon is a student-teacher at primary level. As a member of the Dublin Islamic community, Ceelan has already experienced some wonderfully rewarding moments while on placement and explains what he's most looking forward to in his future teaching career.
"What I'm looking forward to most is just that connection that you have with the kids. Teaching placement is quite short, it's usually only three weeks so it's hard to share your character with the classroom. I'm really looking forward to sharing my identity with the classroom and maybe sharing some things that aren't as commonly thought in the Irish curriculum.
"I've spent a lot of placement in infant classrooms. At that age, the children don't really shy away from their words. I always remember the kids would shout out how I look like their dad or uncle. It's a great thing to see that kids recognise differences in colour, ethnicities and backgrounds and they can see that in the teaching profession. It might be rare, but they can see it."
Speaking to people of all backgrounds and walks of life, we learn that teaching can be an incredibly diverse and fulfilling career. As PME deadlines approach, it's important to know what options are available to you and to discover the pathways you may not have realised were accessible to you.
There are now many undergraduate degrees, across a range of subject areas, that allow you to qualify in post-primary teaching and these are typically four years long.
The Professional Master of Education, (PME) is also a common route for people to go down. This allows people with general undergraduate degrees to complete a two-year postgraduate programme qualifying them to become a teacher.
The closing date for completed PME applications varies from college to college but are generally around January / February each year. Find out more here.
To find out what options are available to you, head here.