Anything is possible, if you work hard enough.

by Niamh Thompson @toal_niamh

Ever since a young age, I always dreamed of becoming a teacher. Suffering from severe dyslexia, however, I didn’t think this would always be possible. As I began my A levels in Sociology and Irish, my aspirations of becoming a teacher were confirmed - I knew I wanted to pursue a teaching career. With my parents’ unwavering support and belief in me, I was able to overcome my dyslexia struggles and graduate with a degree in Irish and Sociology from QUB. The next step on my teaching path took me to apply for a PGCE in Irish. I was very nervous and failed the interview miserably. I felt like I had let everyone down.

I picked myself up, however, and forced myself to be 10% braver, and applied to do a new Irish Medium Education PGCE with Sociology. I passed the interview and my dream of becoming a teacher was back on track. During the intense course, I underwent an assessment for my dyslexia, and the doctor asked me questions like:

  • How are you meant to be a teacher when you have dyslexia?
  • How can you teach children when you have this condition?

I was extremely embarrassed and felt so disappointed by this doctor’s viewpoint. I used his words to spur me on, and I felt more determined. This determination paid off and I qualified as a teacher. I then decided to complete a Masters degree in Sociology at QUB. I felt pretty good about myself after all this. In my eyes, I had overcome the biggest challenge I would ever have to face - becoming a teacher. I have since learnt that entering into motherhood and becoming a working mummy is a much greater challenge.

Throughout my 8 years of teaching, I have let promotions pass me by, thinking I was never good enough to go for them. I now have two children and I realised that I had to set an example for my children, in particular, my daughter, and have more confidence in my ability.

When on maternity, the Head of Irish post was advertised. I knew I had to go for it. I had such a fear of failure and no confidence in myself, but I knew I had to be just 10% braver. I applied for the job and thankfully was successful.

In terms of my new role, I am learning every single day. I am trying my hardest to be the best teacher, leader, mummy and role model I can be. My advice to young aspiring female teachers who have had to overcome hurdles like I did, is to have more confidence in yourself. I am now teaching A-level Irish and Sociology in the same school where I completed those very A-levels. There is no greater privilege than this.

Why did I tell you about the challenges I faced with dyslexia? Simply put - we all face challenges in life. Whether it is a learning need, a lack of confidence or simply being a working mother - these are challenges that can all be overcome.

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