Staff Spotlight - Laura Martina
Every Friday we feature a member of our staff in the Staff Spotlight! This week, we spoke to Science, Biology and PE teacher Laura Martina about her teaching career.
What interested you in teaching?
I told my dad at the age of 10 that I wanted to be a teacher. He was over the moon hearing this! He then asked me what I was going to teach and I said “DOLPHINS!!” .. so I always knew I was going to be a teacher but just took a slightly different approach. My first real interest in teaching came from my experiences in secondary school. At first I didn’t want to go to the school that I ended up going to; I wanted to go to the community school but my mom made it clear that I didn’t really have a choice about it. It turned out to be the best decision that my mom ever made because I absolutely loved school, inside and out. I had such a good rapport with my classmates and teachers, and I was always encouraged whether it was academics or sports. I know it’s a bit cliché but they always believed in every student, so no matter what you did they’d always support that. So I suppose the school and the teachers gave me opportunities, support and belief and that’s why I ended up teaching.
Why is teaching your subjects exciting?
The reason I wanted to teach both Science and P.E. was because of the experiences I had in school and how much belief I got from teachers. I was quite sporty and loved P.E. class, and I really appreciated what sport and physical activity does for you physically and mentally. I also love Biology and Science, and they tie in so well together. My love of sports turned into an interest in “so, why is my body working this way?” or “why do you get injuries?”. I also love how in both fields they’re always changing and there’s always new discoveries, and you can relate them to everyday life.
I’ve also found that particularly now, what I believe in regarding exercise and sports, everybody is now getting it. All we could do during lockdown is go for our walks and do our bit of exercise, so everybody’s getting it now. I think the lightbulb switched on for so many people and hopefully that stays on. Physical activity is just so relevant now and what sport and exercise can do for you both physically and mentally is just so important, and that’s why I picked those subjects. It’s the same as Biology and Science where you do an experiment, then do a bit of theory, so I love having that element in all of my classes.
Why did you choose to teach at Alex?
Alex has a similar ethos, community and spirit to the school that I went to, and that was something I really valued because it’s why I wanted to teach. Alex also has such incredible facilities for students and athletes to grow and develop. It’s such a modern school as well, because the minute Leaving Cert PE was offered to the school we jumped at the opportunity to offer it to the girls. The school is willing to change and help people with whatever they need to succeed. It’s a really great environment and everyone wants the best for you and always has your back.
How have you adapted your teaching for Covid-19?
The number one thing is to just be organized - have your desk set up, all your chargers ready to go, and have your plans all set. The other thing that’s helped me is having a routine in place. Every morning I get up and go for a walk, have my breakfast and teaching, might get out for another walk at lunch time, then after work I go and work out at the little home gym we’ve set up. Having a routine is just key and the only way to get through this lockdown. It’s a bit easier this time around I think for both teachers and students because we understand why it’s happening, and that we just have to get on with it. I think overall we’re very well adapted to remote learning in Alex this time around. You have to keep yourself busy and keep your mind busy; I love the way exercise makes you feel and I think everyone’s starting to cop that now.
Although, with Leaving Cert PE it’s a bit challenging at the minute because we’re missing a lot of time for practicals and we don’t know how long it’s going to go on. I’m using a lot of this time to get through all the theory instead since this is really the perfect time to do it.
For Leaving Cert PE in particular one of the great things is that it has such a variety of aspects, diet, nutrition, analysis, skill acquisition etc. It’s taking the students to a different level and helping them appreciate exercise and everything attached to it.
What has been the highlight of your teaching career so far?
So far I think first it’s that I’ve found a school that suits me so well; Alex is such a social school and has a community spirit so it suits me down to the ground. Another highlight has to be Leaving Cert PE - that’s what we worked hard for and trained for. If I’d gotten this opportunity as a student in school I would’ve been on cloud 9.
I do really love that lightbulb moment of “oh I get it now!” where the girls understand and appreciate the subject, whether it is Science, Biology or PE. That moment where it has clicked with them and realised the importance of that topic or subject, and tell you that they understand or can recall it back to you is really amazing.