Being the best that we can be!

Being a human being… And a human doing!

It’s been a while since I’ve written here. I guess things have been busy and I’ve enjoyed being busy. However, the past few days have highlighted, perhaps reiterated more so, the influence we have as teachers on our kids. More so, the influence we all have on one another.

Be a Rockstar!

Trust is a big thing in any classroom, or environment, where ‘stuff needs to get done’! And believe, that the kids in your care will believe you and trust you, regardless of what you say. Why? Because of the high regard they hold you in.

We have a great buddies program at school, that I’ve mentioned before, where our Year 5 kids spend time with their Year 1 buddies, sharing stories, mini projects etc. Following on from our visit downstairs to their classroom, the kids come back buzzing. More so than most other activities and events that go on throughout the year. Why? Because of that fuzzy feeling they get when their buddy smiles at them, clinched to them, wishing for them not to go because of how much they adore them. “Your a Rockstar!” I tell them. To their buddy, they are the coolest person in the school bar none. The trust is well and truly there. In an international school where children come from all backgrounds and upbringings, it really is something special to behold.


What spurred these thoughts on recently are a result of our Morality lessons which focus on 4 core values (pillars), one of which focuses on ‘The Community’. What I liked about these lessons, have been the emphasis on respect, empathy, tolerance and compassion. We also read about influential people like Dr. Martin Luther King JR and Rosa Parks who all faced adversity throughout their lives. Stories that we all know too well.


The activity was simple. Using coloured stickers the children were given a colour, which was unknown to them, placed on their forehead. Some blue, some green, some yellow and one child red and one child purple. When the children were asked, they got into groups that were similar to them and no one else. They were also allowed to do as they pleased for the proceeding 3-4 minutes. Anyone not in a group (Red and Purple) had to isolate themselves from the groups and stand at the side at opposite ends of the room. Now, the children isolated had no idea what colour they were but soon figured they were different and didn’t have anyone to hang out with. The facial expressions and body language here are always remarkable. For the most part, the groups of children chatted and played about, not really taking into consideration anyone else. Towards the end of the allocated time two children, at different times, came to me and asked if they could join the two excluded kids. To which I shrugged my shoulders and so they took the initiative and did so.

The reaction of the two excluded kids was just incredible. The girl that approached the excluded girl, gave a hug and dragged her (who didn’t put up any resistance) into her group. The boy that approached the excluded boy, just chatted and shortly after, some of the other kids came over to include themselves in the discussion. It became one of those lessons where you didn’t have to do anything, explain anything, or hit home any message, as the kids just got it. They could relate to it instantly and afterwards applied it to their own day to day school life. It was one of those moments where you as a teacher sit back and just watch the pennies drop around you.

Post lesson, it’s one of those that you share with your peers as the feel good factor is something you want others around you to be a part of, but it’s something you really just need to see for yourself. I’m sure you probably have, or have done something similar. It just highlighted for me, as a teacher and as a role model for these kids, the impact I have on their lives. My treatment and expectations of them is consistent and communicated clearly. Why? Because it’s so important. It’s perhaps sometimes under emphasised when educating our children, and ourselves for that matter, the importance on developing relationships with one another and respecting each other. Holding each other in high regard, regardless of ‘what sticker is on their head’. I think society can mess with our minds a little bit on these values, because when I look at our Year 1 buddies when we come to visit, they think about nothing else but the current situation they are in, with their rockstar. Their rockstar can be from wherever in the world, believe in anything they wish to, and could have eaten all sorts for lunch, but they don’t care. For the time that they are with them, nothing else matters. For them, it’s about living in the now, with people they want to be with. People they trust. People they value.

Living as we should,

Treating others as we should,

Enjoying life as we should.

Ultimately, being the best version of ourselves we can be, for ourselves.

And seeing the incredible impact that has on others.

Be the best that you can be, and you’ll bring out the best in others too.

Be a Rockstar.

My Christmas wish

What it’s really all about… Isn’t it?

Living in the ‘Now’

During assembly on the last day of term, our Head of ICT Ciaran, spoke about the coolest new features to use on the iPad over the festive period. After biging it up somewhat, he explained it thoroughly. It went along the lines of this:

“Once you have the iPad open, press the button at the top, close over the cover, and put it on a shelf. Once this has been done, go and play with your family and friends.” 

The kids had a good laugh as they respect him incredibly and they acknowledged his advice and what he meant. The staff had a good laugh too and reiterated the wise words to their classes. What I do wonder tho is how many people will act upon it? As I sit in my home in rural, western Ireland typing this, I see that the battery on my phone is down to 38% and it’s only 14:30 in the afternoon… I’ve pretty much spent a morning playing with some new Apps, which I love doing, and browsing on social media and reading news articles. I’ve not seen my dad in a few months yet I’ve spent more time on my phone already today then I have interacting with him. Bit sad really.

I consider a lot of the browsing that I’m doing is kinda like work as it’s mostly educational stuff that I’m reading and stuff that I see as beneficial. But what am I losing out on as a result? When am I giving my mind a rest? A good friend of mine has absolute panic attacks when you use your phone when in their company. He’s the one that drives the ‘Phones in the middle of the table policy’ when eating out where the first person to check their phone is responsible for paying the bill. Maybe a bit extreme depending on circumstances but not a bad idea on the whole! However, it does appear a bit sad that it comes to that when in the company of others. I think the fact of the matter is, we are hugely addicted to our devices and struggle with not being connected. Myself included.


The thing that worries me the most is that we don’t know the long term consequences of this addiction. This addiction, like any other, can consume you and engulf you. This very addiction is one that has impacted my life negatively at times as relationships I have had with others have amounted to very little due to the easy substitution of ‘love’, ‘likes’, ‘pokes’ and ‘streaks’ that are received in a supposedly ‘social’ online world. Scarily, the more you succumb to this ‘love’ and the callings of your device, the harder it can be to wean yourself away from it. This video which you’re likely to have seen before sums it up brilliantly.

I spent my childhood on this very ground on where I type now with no technology whatsoever and explored the fields around me with my friends and dogs. I have slowly seen myself become more distracted and less able to resist the notifications on my phone. What am I going to do about it? What must it be like for children that are growing up that are surrounded by this? What is their life going to be like in 30 years time if this is where we are now?


Tony Robbins

My Christmas wish

It’s not all doom and gloom. For me, it’s about getting the balance right when I have time on my hands and when I’m with friends and family. Technology has enhanced my life personally and professionally in so many ways and I’m so fortunate to be in the position that I am to embrace it. I think this is where a lot of us are. I think it’s easy for our minds to go into auto pilot too where we over think things that have happened in the past or are busy predicting things that may come in the future. A friend of mine recommended that I listen to Eckhart Tolle’s audio book on The Power of Now’ to help clear my thoughts and it really is a powerful listen. It has really helped me to gather my thoughts and put them to one side especially when I am with people. My listening skills have definitely improved and in turn, this helps me to build better relationships.

To conclude, I advise myself once more and others to act upon Eckhart’s words to ‘Live in the now!’  and this is my Christmas wish. As I look forward to celebrating with my family and friends, I’m going to follow Ciaran’s advice and press that button on the top of my device and place it on a shelf. My attention will be given to my nephews and nieces as they buzz around in anticipation for Santa to come. Their excitement of having each other around fills the air with joy and hope of even better times to come. Hysterical laughter rings through the home (until one of them falls and the tears come) as nothing else matters to them right now than what’s right in front of them. Aromas of cloves, cinnamon and all things nice waft through the hall to the living room as crackers are pulled and gifts are exchanged. Things of which, cannot be recorded or documented, and are only meant to be experienced. Try it. At the end of each day you do, you’ll enhance your appreciation for what’s most important which is more than likely, right in front of your eyes.

This Christmas, enjoy living in the now.

Ho Ho Ho


The teacher I never had

The passing of a true gent

Safe, cared for, inspired and valued are some of the most frequent words, terms and phrases parents use when describing what’s most important for them when looking for a school for their child. Sorry for using the dreaded ‘O’ word, but isn’t a school that nurtures such values what really makes an ‘outstanding’ school?

I’ve had some sad news this week about a great leader that I have known all my life, who happens to be my mate’s father, that passed away this week after a long illness. And although he was not a teacher (Postman actually) by trade, he was a sports coach part-time, who probably taught me more than any teacher I ever had. He abided by great principles and his dedication to what he did was nothing short of incredible. As he took charge of our under 10 football team, taking us across the county on a mini bus to matches, parents took comfort in knowing that their children were being looked after by someone really, quite special.  Someone that kept their kids safe, inspired them to do their best and made them feel valued.

Now, remembering that this same person had their own job during the day and took charge of his team in the evenings during his own time, really indicates how committed he was. He had some help from the club of course, but he was the driver of it. Sunday morning practice sessions to sharpen up and develop our skills. Games mid-week. No financial incentive, and a family to go home to at the end of the day. Year on year, team after team. Thankfully, he led us to the holy grail in our senior years where we won the clubs first senior title for 36 years which probably only he could have done. We were a difficult bunch of lads at the best of times! There are not many people like that anymore, that I know of anyways.

In a recent interview I sat, I was asked about leaders that I looked up to and why. I really could have spoken about him for an hour, so great was the impact he had on me, shaping the person I am today. In my leadership, with my class and with my team, I try instil the same values that were instilled upon me. I hope I’m doing him justice. I’m sure he’ll give me a nudge here and there when needed 🙂


I’m very lucky. I work in a fantastic environment with fantastic staff, fantastic facilities and fantastic kids. A school where kids and parents feel their kids are being nurtured to become well-rounded young people. Grades are important for sure, but only after you have all of the other boxes ticked first. From the passing of this great man, it’s given me an even greater perspective and appreciation of what’s important in life, the people around you and the impact we have on each other. Core values that are entrenched within our families and friends most dear. We run a buddies program at school where our Year 5 kids have a buddy in Year 1 that we spend time with reading, playing and learning with. It’s really special. And as I preach to the kids, ‘Never underestimate the impact you have on others’, I too need to remind myself of my own words from time to time as it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that is life.

I’ve got a great role model that I will continue to aspire to be like and I will remember him with a smile on my face. Rest well, you will be so dearly missed by many.