Caitlyn Mangan: Student Teaching in Ireland

The Atlantic Ocean in my backyard, rolling green hills, mountains with the colors of fall and cliffs that will take your breath away; it sounds a little bit like heaven. These are some of the things I get to see every day, but life in Galway, Ireland is much more than the stereotypical scenery we think of. I have been living in Ireland for approximately three and a half weeks, and it is now that I finally feel like I’m settled in. The first few days here, I was the ultimate tourist, taking pictures and exploring every inch of the city that I could. Soon after, school started and I began my journey as an American teacher in a new, unfamiliar country. As I walked through the doors to Holy Trinity Primary, I was hit with the realization that everything I knew about teaching was about to change. I have been placed in a 3rd class (which is the equivalent to 2nd grade) classroom with 28 all girl students. In a typical day, the students will learn math, reading, Irish, religion and the occasional science and social studies. The teachers here are responsible for teaching art, music and library. With only five and a half hours in a school day, it is often very difficult to fit the entire curriculum into one day. Discipline isn’t enforced and homework isn’t a priority in the classrooms, which was probably the biggest shock for me. I’m used to a quiet classroom and behavior charts compared to consistent chatter and little structure. However, we adapt to the environments we are in and make the best of them. My students are learning what I expect of them and I’m gaining more patience than I could have thought existed. As I enter my fourth week of teaching, I’m excited to try new things and fully engage with the opportunity I have been given. During my time here, I have been challenged as a teacher, student, American and female, but I have grown from every situation. Studying abroad allows you to discover yourself and lose sight of everything you thought you knew. I would not trade the experiences (both good and bad) for anything and believe they are shaping me into a more diverse person/teacher.

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