Author Archives: Simon Lewis

In Memory of Ashling Murphy

At Mash, we were devastated to hear of the death of Ashling Murphy in Tullamore this week. As practicing primary school teachers, ourselves, the loss of one of our colleagues especially in the manner in which she died, has left us feeling many emotions: sadness, anger, a sense of loss – of course none of them are adequate nor close to how her family, friends, pupils and colleagues are feeling.

We attended the vigil for Ashling last night in Carlow Town. Not only were we struck by the huge numbers of people there and the excellent speeches made by representatives, we left feeling that we should do something for other victims of male violence. Mash.ie is based in Carlow and we were struck by the fact, given that it is such a big town, that it has no refuge accommodation for women. As a very small token, we have made a donation of €250 to Women’s Aid.

If you would like to make a donation to Women’s Aid, please text ACTION to 50300

Black Friday 2021

Black Friday takes place on Friday, 26th November 2021. We asked our sellers if they were doing any deals on the day. We’re listing them here from Monday 22nd November. Check back during the week for more offers!

Guinea Pig Education – 25% off all teaching products with code ‘BlackFri25’

Oideachas na hÉireann – up to 27% off lesson plans 

Múinteoir Grace – 25% off all products

TheFourEyedTeacher – 50% off from Wednesday to Saturday

TeachingMadeEasy – 20% off all products

Misslorakatesshop – 30% off everything 

teachnchatter – 20% off all products

The Teacher Student – 30% off everything with the code: FRIDAY30TTS Thursday 25th to Tuesday November 30th.

teacher_elaine_ – 20% off all products

Check out these sellers who have told us they have some offers coming up for Black Friday – For the Love of Literacy, Sióg sa seomra, and Class of Creativity

Also, check out Rhyming Multisensory Stories who are doing a free, full resourced step-by-step multi-sensory story for Christmas called Dear Santa. It’s aimed at children and teenagers with special educational needs. Here’s the link https://www.rhymingmultisensorystories.com/post/dear-santa-a-free-multisensory-christmas-poem.

Making Hallowe’en More Inclusive

Not everyone celebrates Hallowe’en in Ireland. There are lots of faith groups, including many Christian faith groups, that do not celebrate the day. This is because Hallowe’en is a pagan festival.

Given that almost all schools in the country are not under the patronage of Paganism, it’s worth thinking about how one can make the day as inclusive as possible for everyone.

The one thing schools have in common, no matter what their ethos, is that on the final day of the autumn term, children and, often, the staff, like to dress up in costumes and play seasonal games.

In order to make the day more inclusive. Some schools rename the day to something like “Dress Up Day” or “Self-Expression Day.” While this might jar with you at first, ultimately, all you are doing is changing the name of the day to make it more inclusive. Teachers can still teach about Hallowe’en but it also gives them opportunities to teach children about other autumn festivals such as Sukkot, Samhain and Diwali.

Finding *exactly* what you need

A month into our new rebrand, we hope you have noticed how much faster and easier it is to find what you need on Mash. The first port of call for most Mash users is the big pink search bar at the top of the site. However, sometimes, you might not know exactly what you want and here is where the magic happens!

We have added some brand new categories: Events and Themes. You can find them by hovering over the Categories menu here:

Let’s try the theme Éadaí / Clothes. In this section, you’ll already find dozens of products – but how can you filter them down to what you want?

Look no further than the left hand side of the site and you’ll find filters to narrow down what you are looking for. There are popular tags, Curricular Areas, Type of Resource, and lots more. For example, I might want a Clothes Display for my classroom. In the filter bar if I tick “Posters”, my search is filtered down to fewer options.

There are lots of ways to find what you want on Mash quickly so get searching!

Getting to know our webinar guests

We can’t wait for our webinar next Thursday, 26th August, which will be streamed on YouTube and Facebook Live. We thought you might want to get to know our featured guests a little better. Each of our featured sellers will be giving away one of their products at the webinar. Find out what you could win!

My name is Adam Barrett and this will be my 3rd year teaching. I qualified from Mary Immaculate College in 2019 and worked as a Special Education Teacher for 2 years. This year I will be teaching 2nd class, and have a passion for all things inclusion and special education.

Adam is giving away his most popular mash.ie resource: his SET teaching guide. https://mash.ie/mister-muinteoir/set-teaching-guide.html 

The Primary Teacher Interview Consultancy was established to help teachers, at any stage of their career, in any educational setting, engage in interview preparation and guidance, to realise and achieve their full potential. The consultancy has many consultation plans which cater for those of all levels of experience and self-confidence within the area of teaching interviews.We are here to support you, through 1:1 consultations, webinars and mock interviews, to ensure that you achieve your goals. 

Maria is giving away her most popular mash.ie resource, 30 buzzwords and what they mean: https://mash.ie/30-interview-buzzwords-what-they-mean.html

Grace is a Mary Immaculate College graduate with three years of classroom experience. Her special interests are Gaeilge and supporting substitute teachers. Grace enjoys creating high quality and innovative resources to support her fellow teachers and has a wide array of products on her mash.ie store Múinteoir Grace 💜

Grace is giving away her most popular mash.ie resource this evening, it’s her Subbing Essential Toolkit https://mash.ie/subbing-in-the-irish-primary-classroom-the-essential-toolkit

Claire is one of Mash.ie’s top rated sellers and focuses on providing extremely high-quality planning documents for primary teachers. She runs a Facebook and Instagram page @teachingplans.ie, as well as a teaching blog. Claire has a decade of experience spanning mainstream, SET, EAL and management. She will be teaching an ASD class in September.

Claire is giving away her most downloaded product on mash.ie to one lucky teacher. 

These are the Primary Language Curriculum PLC Fortnightly Plan Template and Sample for both English and Irish. The winner can choose their class level. https://mash.ie/new-language-curriculum-fortnightly-plan-template-and-sample-bundle-for-both-english-and-irish.html  

Michelle Lyons-Doyle is an experienced autism class teacher and is also parent to an autistic child. She is passionate about special education and catering to the unique needs of autistic children. 

Michelle set up Star Star Autism as a page to share information and ideas with other teachers and SNAs, and to chronicle the ups and downs of life as a parent. 

Michelle is passionate about the need for a respectful, strengths-based approach in special education and believes that neurodiversity should be celebrated.

Michelle is giving away her most popular mash.ie resource which is her Visual Schedule Symbol pack https://mash.ie/visual-schedule-symbols.html

Ciara is a Third Class teacher in an Educate Together school.  She has taught Senior Infants, First Class, Third Class and SET.  Ciara is passionate about inclusive, multicultural education and makes resources that help teachers to create a positive and welcoming learning space for all students.  

Ciara is giving away her most popular mash.ie resource which are her conversation cards https://mash.ie/ciaralynch101/circle-time-conversation-cards-for-multicultural-classrooms.html 

How Not To Get a Job Interview

Teaching jobs are getting more and more scarce every year in Ireland. The days when you could almost graduate, pick the school you wished to work in and gain a permanent position have all but disappeared. Nowadays, it seems that substituting and temporary positions are the norm for most teachers starting out. It appears that only the very lucky or well connected have chances of long term positions.

However, before getting near a job, obviously you need an interview! Getting a job interview is also getting harder than ever before. With many schools now allowing teachers to apply for jobs electronically, this means that it is easier and cheaper to apply for many more positions. It also means that schools are getting a lot more applications than normal.

Getting an interview means that you are getting a chance for a job so how do you rise above the other applications to get an interview? There are a number of places that will give you hints and tips, but here are some things to do to ensure you don’t get an interview.

1. Make spelling or grammar errors

Even one error in your application can file an otherwise amazing application into the shredder. While not every interview panel will mind the odd typo, some are unapologetic about throwing away applications with even one error. The theory is that if one is going to be careless in a job application, they will be careless in their job.

2. Make a template then send it to every school

As teachers are sending hundreds of applications, it is often tempting to make a template application and send the same one to every school. This can backfire very easily. In order to make a good template, you’re going to have to generalise the answers to a lot of the questions. Therefore, you’re not going to say anything specific about any school you’re applying for. Worse yet, it seems that there are templates out there in the world of forums and web chats that are borrowed and copied and pasted and sent to loads of schools. In any batch of 100 CVs, there are probably 50 others like it.

3. Write to the wrong person

If you’re putting in a cover letter, be sure that you address the person properly. Here are some real examples I have heard or come across:

  • Dear Reverend Chairperson – to a chairperson who is not a priest
  • Dear Sir/Madame – to a priest. (As of yet, I don’t think there are many madame priests)
  • Dear Mary – to anyone not called Mary!

4. Talk about the wrong faith 

This is probably to do with the fact that the majority of schools are under the patron of the Catholic church. However, if you’re applying for a job in a school that isn’t of a Catholic ethos, while it is admirable that you have claimed to be passionate about Catholic teachings, most of these schools see that you’ve just copied from a template and your application is likely to go into the bin.

5. Don’t read the advertisement properly

You’d be surprised how many applications come in the wrong form to schools. For example, some schools this year only accepted applications via email but still received lots of envelopes, much of which didn’t get opened. However, if you check out the advertisements on Education Posts, often a school will add a few lines to applicants asking for particular things or perhaps asking not to include certain items. If you don’t follow these instructions, you might be missing out on a school that might have wanted you.

6. Make sure your only hobbies are reading and socialising

Schools like teachers to be able to do other things other than teaching. For example, if you’re a grade 8 pianist, you could be gold dust to a school who have just lost their only teacher who could play the piano. Perhaps a school has lost their GAA coach to greener pastures and are desperately looking for a former under-14  GAA player of the year who continues to coach kids at weekends. Who knows, there may be a school who want to set up a computer club and you might just have designed web pages for your mum’s online business? All your hobbies might be relevant to a school so put them in and show how you could be used in your school.

7. Have a level 1 certificate in any sport from college and nothing else

You more than likely have a Grade 1 certificate in coaching some sport. I’m afraid that all your friends in college did the same. You’re going to have to stand out more in an application so add some details. For example, talk about what you did to get the certificate and how you’ve put it into practice. Whilst on the subject, try to get a few qualifications outside college to boost your application. Perhaps you’ve done a First Aid course or an interesting (certified) evening course?

8. Be Bland

“From your web site I can see that your school is an inclusive, welcoming and enjoyable place to work in.   This is an atmosphere that would suit someone like me.” These sentences could be about any school (with a web site). To an interview panel, it translates as: “I have merely copied and pasted the same applications over and over again. I don’t even know what school this piece of paper is going to.” Be specific about why you want to work in a school. Tell them why you want to move to their school or how you admire something that they are known for. This might take time but it may pay off in the end.

9. Photocopy your applications badly

If you really feel you have the best template application and you’re going to send it to schools, you’re going to be using a photocopier if you’re posting applications. Whatever you do, make sure your application doesn’t look like it’s been photocopied. Fingerprints, coffee stains and other smudges do nothing to make your application stand out in a good way. Some people send applications on different kinds of paper, which is risky but sometimes effective. While it goes without saying a loud pink paper with glittery writing isn’t going to go down well, a muted cream or off-white good quality paper might make a panel member look twice at the application.

10. Handwrite your letter of application

For some odd reason, there was a rumour going around that teachers should handwrite their cover letter to show off their teacher writing. The problem is that it is very hard to write a handwritten letter well and conventions differ greatly from a printed letter. While that doesn’t seem to be a problem, the difficulty is that most people can’t remember the correct way to write a handwritten letter these days and this can lead to all sorts of confusions. A final reason to avoid handwriting letters is that when you’re handwriting 200 cover letters, even the best handwriting becomes scrawly eventually.

Of course, the best way not to get a job interview is not to apply for jobs! I always recommend that teachers put a lot of effort into the schools they would most prefer to work in. Five really good applications, I believe, are better than hundreds of templated photocopies.

Coming Soon: Back to School Webinar

We’re delighted to be running a Back to School Webinar near the end of August.

Last year we held two super webinars for teachers heading back to school. The first was centred around COVID19 mitigation measures and what teachers could expect. The second was all about infant education.

The webinar will take place on 26th August from 7:30pm. It will consist of 3 parts with 6 of our top sellers chatting with the Mash Team about everything from Special Education Teaching to setting up a Side Hustle as a teacher.

Why not save the date on your calendar here:

Numicon At Home Kit

I recently purchased this kit for use at home. We have a nearly seven year old who seems fascinated with number and learning his multiplication tables presently so I thought I would make good on this interest!

The Numicon model is used in many classrooms in Ireland. It is primarily used in the Infant classes but can be used at any age or setting. Numicon aims to give children a positive experience with early number, number ideas and number relationships. My boy really enjoyed simply playing and interacting with the numicon shapes and building different structures with them. For that alone, they are great play tool! But, they are also based on pedagogy of learning maths and work really well with helping children visualise what a number looks like in objects which in turn impacts on future use with number sense and mental maths.

What I really liked about this kit is that all the resources come in a draw-string material bag and a Book of activities which are essential for parents that are not teachers. It also comes with the basic set of 32 Numicon Shapes, 32 Numicon Pegs, Feely Bag, Numicon Zig Zag Book, 3 Threading Laces, Baseboard, 2 Picture Baseboard Overlays and 0-10 Numeral Cards.

I really liked the Numicon at home kit. It does what it says and will be a great investment for your home or SET setting.

Numicon At Home kit retails for €69.99 and is available from all good educational stockists. I purchased this product myself. This is not an advertisement. 

Something BIG is coming to Mash

Just wanted to let you know that some big changes are coming to Mash.ie

Over the coming days, we’ll be transforming our site with a whole new look and feel, changes that will not only make it easier to find the educational resources you’re looking for, but also see exactly what you’re getting. And by adding some new payment options and improving security, we’ll be making our check-out experience much more convenient too.

However, there is a small downside. To make these improvements, we need to take Mash offline for 2 days and you won’t be able to buy any products from us during this time.

To minimise disruption, we’ve scheduled the changes to occur from 13th to 14th July, our least busy summer holiday period, so on the off chance you’re looking for educational resources during this time, we apologise for any inconvenience.

We promise the changes will definitely be worth the wait, so please bear with us, we’ll be back up and running by the 14th July.

Preparing for an Interview

Useful Language & 5 Topics to Consider

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“The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare”

Preparing for an interview is a daunting experience. Where to begin? What topics to research? What language to use

Throughout this blogpost, I am going to walk you through some useful tips and tricks around the areas of language and popular topics to consider. Remember, you are a highly qualified individual and an interview is an opportunity to showcase YOU! I am going to show you how.

Language is the reflection of ourselves. It is an exact reflection of the character, knowledge and growth of its speakers

Positive language is vitally important throughout an interview. An interview board want to appoint someone who is positive, expressive, informed and happy. A positive teacher, using positive language has a tremendous impact on a school community. Positive attitudes in the classroom are fundamental to promoting positive mental health in the classroom, as well as building the self-esteem and confidence of the children in that classroom. A positive teacher is also significant in developing staff morale and a satisfactory staff dynamic in a school.

Examples of positive language to be used throughout an interview:

  • I was fortunate to….
  • I thoroughly enjoyed….
  • I love teaching
  • I was inspired by….
  • The initiative was very beneficial to the children
  • It may have been challenging but it was worthwhile as the children benefitted greatly
  • I am passionate about….
  • I have an appreciation for…..

Buzzwords are a useful tool to utilise throughout an interview. Buzzwords aid in presenting a candidate as someone who is passionate about teaching, knowledgeable in the area of current research and committed to continuous professional development.

Here are some examples of useful buzzwords

Pssstt…..find 30 Interview Buzzwords and what they mean here: https://mash.ie/product/30-interview-buzzwords-what-they-mean/

5 Topics to Consider when Preparing for Interview

  1. Know who you are and what your strengths, qualities and talents are

This seems like an obvious one, but is often one of the first questions asked in an interview and can challenge candidates.

The main reason for this is because it is a question that we often refer to as being “easy! I know everything about myself and what I am going to say”. It is only when you begin to say it out loud that this answer is difficult to structure as some information about yourself will not be relevant while other information is significant. It is one of the most important questions as if it is not answered well, can unsettle a candidate.

  • Promoting Positive Mental Health

Now, more than ever, promoting positive mental health is fundamental to teaching and learning in our schools. Holistic education is a comprehensive approach to teaching which supports positive mental health in our schools. This is where educators seek to address the emotional, social, ethical and academic needs of the students in an integrated learning format. It is important to be clear on ways in which you plan for holistic education in your classroom and therefore, promote positive mental health within your classroom and beyond.

  • Research the school and know what they value most

Knowing and referring to the achievements, values and priorities of a school is very important in an interview. An example of this may be that the school community are passionate about promoting positive mental health throughout the school. Can you add to this? What would you like to add? Have you engaged in any initiatives or programmes previous to this interview such as The Amber Flag Initiative with Pieta House? It is crucial that you make reference to the research you have done on the school and how you can be of help in further developing some initiatives and ideas.

  • Mandatory Policies

Mandatory policies are fundamental to the safe operation of any organisation, but particularly a school. Mandatory policies are policies which are among the most important documents in a school’s building. These include, but are not limited to-

  • Child Protection
  • Health & Safety
  • Anti-Bullying
  • Code of Discipline

Research these policies on the school’s website and refer to them throughout your interview.

  • The Continuum of Support

The Department of Education has set out the Continuum of Support framework to assist schools in identifying and responding to students’ needs. The framework recognises that special educational needs occur along a continuum, ranging from mild to severe. The Continuum of Support is a problem solving model of assessment and intervention that enables schools to gather and analyse data, as well as to plan and review the progress of individual students. It is important to research this framework. The resource pack is available here: https://www.sess.ie/sites/default/files/inlinefiles/neps_special_needs_resource_pack.pdf

The Primary Teacher Interview Consultancy– How can we help?

The Primary Teacher Interview Consultancy was established to help teachers, at any stage of their career, in any educational setting, engage in interview preparation and guidance, to realise and achieve their full potential. The consultancy has many consultation plans which cater for those at any level of experience and self-confidence within the area of teaching interviews. We delve into all relevant topics, current research, legislation, policies and circulars. We provide for well-structured answers and a high standard of vocabulary and language, also known as ‘buzzwords’. All consultations include a copy of our ‘Sample Questions Booklet’. We are here to support you, through guidance consultations and mock interviews, to ensure that you achieve your goals. All mash.ie followers receive a 10% discount when quoting ‘mash.ie’ on booking, before the 1st of July 2021.

Follow us on Instagram for lots of tips & sample questions- @teacherinterviewireland

Email us at primaryteacherinterview@gmail.com to make an enquiry/ booking