Patrice Arrigan

Primary School Teacher, Carrigaline National School

Degree subject BSc Physiotherapy, University College Dublin (2000); MSc Physiotherapy, UCD (2004); Higher Diploma in Arts in Primary Education, Hibernia College (2011)
Job title Primary School Teacher
Employer Carrigaline 'Educate Together' National School

I originally trained as a physiotherapist, but my love of teaching led me to change careers. I chose the Hibernia College blended learning (combined online and onsite study) higher diploma (HDip) because of the flexibility it afforded me: I'd just got married and bought a house and I wanted to stay working full time.

I'm now working as a primary school teacher. I teach the primary school curriculum (a combination of English, maths, Irish, history, geography, science, drama, music, art, PE, SPHE and Learn Together) to 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th classes (8–12 year olds).

There is a myth that teachers only work school hours. In reality, the 9.00 am–3.00 pm day is the product of all the preparation you do outside of these hours and at weekends.

It's important to understand and nurture every child in your class as far as possible. Schools have changed dramatically since I was a child, and rote-learning has largely been replaced by active discovery and learning through doing. One of my classes has just finished working on a project called 'Write 4 food'. The children discussed, dramatised and debated subjects including world hunger, fair trade and the right for food. They then interpreted these themes in artworks which were printed into postcards and posted to various people and institutions around the world. The children were incredibly excited every time they received a reply.

Best bits

The best thing about this job is seeing the children grow and develop educationally before your eyes. There's nothing more rewarding than being responsible for a child’s 'lightbulb' moment.

Because my HDip was delivered online and onsite, I was able to work full time as a physiotherapist simultaneously. It also meant that I could have a baby without giving up on the course. (I became pregnant with my first child just before I began studying, and with my second mid-way through.) It was an incredibly intense period and much harder than I'd expected. Juggling full-time work, pregnancy, motherhood and study was tough!

I was extremely proud to be named 'Student of the year' when I finished my HDip. I think having a small baby in tow really taught me the meaning of multitasking and time management! I'm delighted that I took the challenge of changing career and now have a permanent teaching job in a lovely school.

Patrice Arrigan was interviewed for gradireland Teaching & Education 2012.