St Teresa's Primary School
School website: www.stteresasprimary.org/
Subject: Primary 3.
Your place of birth: North Belfast.
Studied at: University of Ulster Coleraine (BA HONs) and University of Northumbria (PGCE).
First job: Retail.
What it taught me: That respect should be given to everyone, no matter if they are young or old; and that kindness opens the door to more opportunities than any other method.
Family/status: In a relationship.
Best advice anyone ever gave you: You never know what someone is dealing with, so always treat people with kindness and compassion.
Best advice you could give someone thinking of a teaching career: I would say from experience that teaching isn’t a profession that’s suited to everyone. It’s for those who are called to the profession. I would outline that if you love to see that ‘lightbulb moment’ when a child suddenly understands something new, or the thought of being able to instil a feeling of wonder and excitement in things that we as adults now may take for granted, then teaching is something that would suit them.
I would remind a potential candidate for teaching that the profession is extremely rewarding, not just from an academic perspective, but also from a personal perspective. The knowledge that you have the power to make children feel safe, special, acknowledged and even cared for is an extremely privileged role, whilst also acknowledging that you could be one of the reasons a child grows to learn and develop in their chosen career path.
Teaching is a wholly rewarding but challenging profession; not one day, lesson or pupil will ever be the same. Each class and pupil will have their own strengths, interests and needs, but that is why we are a group of people who rely on other teachers as our teammates. Whatever challenges you may be facing, your colleagues could also be facing, or have previously encountered these or similar situations. Therefore, their experience, support and advice can help you overcome many obstacles.
Finally, I would advise anyone thinking of becoming a teacher that they always need to remember that even if you are having a bad day, due to pressures or difficulties in your personal life, this needs to be left outside the classroom. Children can be extremely attuned to your mood and therefore can be affected by your stress or feelings. Alternatively, if a pupil in your class is having a bad day, we as educators need to have patience, sensitivity and understanding as the emotions a child might display in class may be the result of a difficult situation that they might be struggling to deal with in their own lives outside the classroom. These emotions can be as important, if not more important, to them than what is happening in the classroom in that particular moment. Therefore, it is our duty as educators to be there for our pupils in an all-encompassing approach to educate their minds, validate their feelings and allow them to grow as individuals both physically and emotionally.
My name is Gerald Cullen; I am currently a Primary 3 teacher in St Teresa’s Primary School on the Glen Road. I have been teaching for the past seven years and the past five years have been as a Primary 3 teacher in St Teresa’s PS.
Prior to teaching I completed a BA Hons Degree in History with Education at the University of Ulster Coleraine, whilst also volunteering as a classroom assistant in Sacred Heart Primary before being giving a permanent role as an assistant in P2 and P7 for a year. I then went on to do my PGCE in Primary Education in Northumbria University, Newcastle. Ever since I can recall I have wanted to become a teacher. I am the only teacher in my immediate and extended family. This was always my chosen profession due to my belief that the ability to make a positive impact on anyone’s life, no matter how big or small, is an amazing gift and opportunity to have. During my time in St Teresa’s I have been privileged to take on the role of Physical Education and Sustrans coordinator within school. This role has given me great joy over the years. I love celebrating the achievements and success of the children in St Teresa’s with parents and the wider school community. It is truly a privilege to work in such an amazing school with such remarkable young children and have the support of such wonderful colleagues. I love my job as it allows me to enrich and enhance the learning experiences of children.