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Who is Toria the Teacher? - part 2...

Yesterday, I shared about how my teaching journey began and that I ended my P.G.C.E. year knowing that I didn’t want to teach secondary but that all I wanted to do was teach. I wish that I could tell you that I got a job in a primary school and everything was fine, but it wasn’t quite that easy.

Living in Northern Ireland, permanent full-time jobs were few and far between - most teachers remained in their first post until retirement, which made it incredibly hard for new teachers entering the profession. Given the fact that my P.G.C.E. was in secondary, I had no chance of getting a job in a primary school. I did try though - I applied for temporary posts, part-time posts, maternity covers, but I wasn’t shortlisted for anything. I became more and more despondent and signed up for supply cover - however, I didn’t even get that due to my secondary training.

Then one day my mum, a Year 6 (P7) teacher at the time, told me that her headteacher wanted to see me. He offered me some supply cover. Initially it was just half a day a week for a month, but I went on to teach a great deal at that school and due to the cover opportunities afforded to me by the headteacher, I gained a wealth of experience teaching Reception to Year 6 (P1 - P7). As I gained experience, so opportunities opened up in other primary schools and I worked for most of that year - gaining the primary experience that I needed to get the full-time job I so desired. I began to get short-listed for jobs but I didn't secure a post and at the end of a year of supply teaching, I made the difficult decision to leave Northern Ireland and move to England.

Now, most people would have got a post before moving over, but not I. In my infinite wisdom, I thought it would be much better to move over, supply teach and then apply. However, my plans were scuppered for a number of reasons and it took me five years to return to the classroom. As strange as it may sound though, I’m incredibly grateful that I did have five years of working in  the hospitality and retail industries, because when I returned to teaching there was no doubt in my mind that this was what I wanted to do. I knew that there was no other job in the world that could give me the level of joy and fulfilment that teaching did. 

In all honesty, there were times during that five years when I thought teaching was lost forever, but due to a strange set of circumstances, I found myself back at university studying for a P.G.Cert.P.D in Primary Education. Since returning to university, I have never taken teaching for granted and I count myself incredibly lucky to be part of the best profession in the world. Scott Hayden was describing me when he said:

‘Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.’

Tomorrow, I'll let you know how the first two loves slotted together as I took up my first full-time teaching post.

P.S. If you are wondering about the choice of image, it is my favourite road in Northern Ireland - yes I have a favourite road! The trees are known as the bumpy trees because the roots forced part of the road up making it very bumpy. I'm sure in 2020 it isn't so bumpy but gosh did I love going over them in the car when I was little!

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