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Alexandra College

Staff Spotlight - Aoife Kelly

Every Friday we feature a member of our staff in the Staff Spotlight! This week, English and Music teacher Aoife Kelly spoke to us about her teaching career.

What was your first instrument and why did you choose it?

Well, my first instrument was the flute, and it’s a very funny story why I chose to play it. So my dad used to be in the Artane Boys Band, and it was some of the happiest times of his life (you know, before my mum and I came along). So he wanted me to have the same experience of being a part of a group and being involved in music. We were out for a family drive one day when my dad asked me, “Would you like to play an instrument?” and I answered that I’d like to play the flute. To this day, we haven’t really figured out where eight year old me plucked that from but even a few lessons in I loved it, and it was just purely instinctual for me.

What interested you in teaching?

I actually knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher; I always loved the learning environment, being in school and just getting to share knowledge with people felt like the most wonderful thing in the world. Particularly when I was got to university I found such joy in getting to talk to my peers all the time about what we were learning and so I thought, what if there’s a job in this? That’s when I realized that I could be a teacher. In particular, my flute teacher also thought that I would make a good teacher, and so I thought I’d give it a try and teach some piano lessons. I really enjoyed it and wanted to see what it was like in a classroom setting as well, so that’s when I pursued the PME to become a teacher. After my first week in the classroom, I just knew that this was something I was destined to do. I made God knows how many mistakes in that first year of placement but it felt right, like this was where I was meant to be.

What makes teaching English and Music exciting?

Oh, they’re so exciting all the time! I chose the subjects that I loved myself during school really, they were both my passions growing up. I was always reading growing up, and I learned to play an instrument from a young age so both of those things were important parts of my life for a long time. Both of these subjects can allow for conversation and discussion, and for being able to get an insight from other people. I love hearing what the students have to say and getting their opinions on the texts we study, or the set works we listen to, and it allows a lot of room for student voice and that’s something I’m always trying to prioritize in the classroom. Especially at senior level as we get into more serious topics, it’s always really interesting to hear what they think about social injustices in the world and big philosophical topics or see the modern perspective on older musical works and how they might go about it. They’re not always the easiest subjects, English in particular, but there’s always something to look forward to in class and something to bond over and build a rapport with students.

Why did you choose to teach in Alex?

First off there’s such a big culture of music in the school. Music is something we all value in our lives, like we all have our Spotify playlists and favourite artists, and love going to concerts or the theatre, but in schools sometimes music can be thrown by the wayside so I really appreciated how much music was valued here. It’s also huge that the girls are encouraged to really achieve their dreams, and that the supports are in place to tell the girls “Ok, here is everything that you can do, everything that you can achieve if you want it.” My mum and dad always encouraged me to go out and achieve whatever it was I wanted to do, and seeing that that’s put in place for the girls here was particularly important to me because the world is so stacked against women. Seeing that they are so encouraged to not only challenge the world but to challenge themselves whether that’s their academic ability or their perspective on the world. Alex offers such a holistic education that the girls are able to learn about as many different things as they want. This is a school that really values the students, and that was a big part of my decision.

What has been the highlight of your teaching career so far?

You know I have so many, the subjects that I teach offer so many opportunities for such funny times or interesting conversations. So far though I think the highlight is actually getting the opportunity to work here in Alex! I get to teach both my subjects and learn so much on the job, and I have so many great colleagues here. A mini subsequent highlight of that is getting to be in Funky Friday at assembly! It brings such joy to my week deciding what we’re going to play and seeing how much the students look forward to it. They’re always asking me on a Thursday “Miss, what’s the song?” It’s such a small simple thing, but there’s always joy all around the place after Funky Friday.