Teaching primary school: ‘It’s the most rewarding thing you can do’

Profile: Sarah Brazil currently works at Presentation Primary School in Terenure, Dublin

Sarah Brazil teacher profile

Course: Bachelor of arts and humanities, DCU; master’s in primary education, Hibernia College

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

I had a very positive experience in both primary and secondary school. In particular I loved the school community in primary school and felt a real sense of family and fun with my friends and teachers. My teachers were fantastic role models and my sixth-class teacher had a very positive impact on me and made me feel like I could be a teacher myself. My experience was so positive that I decided it would be something that I should aspire to and I’m now delighted to be back working as a teacher in my own primary school.

How did you decide on what course to study and college to attend?


Going to college was a huge deal for me as I was the first person in my family to go to third level. Unfortunately, I fell short of the required points for the bachelor of education course so I decided I would do a BA degree in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, where I studied human development and English.

I then did a master’s of education with Hibernia College. I decided to go here as the timetable would allow me to observe and work as a substitute in different schools which provided me with invaluable teaching practice.

What skills do you need to become a teacher?

Being a teacher is much more than the traditional idea of teaching. Primary schoolteachers play a massively important role in a child’s life, and this is something that is really important to me. Good listening and organisational skills are important, but being kind, reliable and empathetic while keeping abreast of all the latest educational thinking through continuous professional development is key.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The best thing about my job are the girls in my class. I spend about 30 hours a week with them and spend many more hours planning, preparing and reviewing. I have the pleasure of spending lots of time laughing with the girls and listening to their many stories about their lives outside of school. I love seeing when something clicks with the students.

What do you find the most challenging aspect of your career?

In the classroom, the biggest thing is class size. Having a large class means I have less time to give individual attention to each pupil. I think the influence of social media on children could become a difficult challenge that will be facing teachers in the coming years. Another challenge is the teacher supply crisis. My own friends are leaving Ireland to teach in the Middle East and Australia as the housing crisis in Dublin means it’s impossible to rent in Dublin and to save towards a mortgage.

What would your advice be to someone considering a career in teaching?

Go for it. It’s the most rewarding thing you can do. Seeing the pupils having fun while learning is the best feeling. When I head into school I don’t feel like I’m in a stressful workplace, I absolutely love my job. I know I’m very lucky to feel like that and I’m very lucky to have supportive colleagues along with lovely pupils.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times