Olivia Giltenane, Maths Teacher, Isle of Scheppey Academy
BA Education, Business Studies and Religion, St Patrick's College, Thurles, Co. Tipperary (2009); MA Education, Canterbury Christchurch College (2012)
Job title Maths Teacher (Secondary)
Employer Isle of Scheppey Academy
I absolutely loved school and idolised some of my teachers. I knew teaching was what I wanted to do from a very young age.
After finishing my degree I went for an interview at the Isle of Sheppey Academy, Kent. UTeach Recruitment, who visited my college when I was studying for my BA, put me in touch with the school. The interview process involved an hour of observed teaching at the school followed immediately by an interview.
It was the principal who sold the Academy to me. During my interview he explained that they were in the process of building a new school and the prospect of being involved in this really appealed. It was an exciting time to join. The Academy also offered to subsidise my MA, which was another great incentive.
It's a big school with more than 2,500 students spanning two sites. I teach every year group, from year 7s through to year 11s. As we're an academy, we can be experimental in our approach to education. This year we arranged for our year 9s to sit a modular GCSE exam to see if students achieved higher grades. We also experiment with the length of tutor time, which has varied from 15 minutes to an hour a day.
Every day at school is extremely busy. Three times a week we have an 8.00 am briefing, which includes announcements, details of meetings and reminders, such as which team is on bus duty that day. Teaching begins at 8.30 am and finishes at 3.00 pm, but my working day doesn’t end until long after that.
I’m one of 12 Irish teachers who joined the school at the same time. At the beginning it took a while to get used to the English system – it's quite different to the Irish – but we had several incredibly useful training sessions designed specifically for overseas-trained teachers organised by the continuing professional development coordinator. And if I've a difficulty, senior members of staff are always happy to help.
It's wonderful to witness students remembering something you've taught them weeks ago, and it's proof that you've taught them well. Recently I introduced Gaelic football to the school and coach students at lunchtimes and after classes. It's been very popular – especially with the boys!
Olivia Giltenane was interviewed for gradireland Teaching & Education 2012 .