As the Friday workday draws to a close, Barry Lyons knows what awaits him when he meets his friends for their usual end-of-week pints. As a teacher of Irish and Geography in a local secondary school, the 26 year-old understands that his friends will inevitably chastise him for being a teacher and claim that he ‘makes money for doing nothing’. At this point, Barry knows that he will have to present a brave front and say ‘June, July and August, lads!’ while another little piece of his soul dies.
Mr Lyons completed his H. Dip. in 2011 with first class honours and has spent most of the past two years unemployed, only occasionally obtaining work teaching as a substitute or temporary teacher, despite also holding a Masters in Irish. “I guess it was just timing”, Mr Lyons said, while displaying a small stack of rejection letters from various schools. “At least it’s only a small stack”, he noted, neglecting to mention that he never received any form of response from the majority of schools he applied to.
His new teaching post – a one-year contract with no guarantee of renewal – attracted nearly 200 applications, but Mr Lyons secured the position following a lengthy interview process. Since his appointment in June, Mr Lyons has been preparing his teaching schemes and lesson plans for the year ahead. “There’s a bit of paperwork, alright,” Mr Lyons observed as he replaced one hefty lever-arch file on a shelf with seven others, “but only as much as any secretary or paralegal has to deal with. It’s just a part of the job.”
The school that Mr Lyons works for has a high intake for the area, which results in some classes being overcrowded. In four of the six classes that Mr Lyons taught today, there were no less than 28 students. “I don’t think it’s that big a problem”, said Mr Lyons, spotting some excessive graffiti on desks at the back of the classroom. “Who could have a problem keeping order in a room of 28 or more adolescent males and females when a portion of your work is with your back turned to them while trying to teach them about subjects and ideas that they don’t see the benefit of unless it’s relevant to state examinations? Really, it’s just part of the job.”
Between Irish and Geography classes, Mr Lyons has a full schedule for each week. However, as this post is Mr Lyons’ first official appointment, he finds himself on the reduced pay-scale for new entrants. “Times are tough for everyone,” Mr Lyons said, “I mean, it’s not the Department of Education’s fault that I’m completely over-qualified for the job. They shouldn’t have to pay me extra for raising standards in education – that shouldn’t be something the Department of Education have to worry about. Just because I work an extra few hours every day doesn’t mean I should be rewarded for it,” Lyons stated as he began corrections on a stack of copybooks. “It’s just part of the job.”
As the clock ticks towards 4pm, Mr Lyons’ four-hour teaching day (which started at 8.30am) is almost over and the weekend can begin. Any plans before he meets his friends for pints later? “I have a therapist’s appointment, actually,” said Mr Lyons, “talking through suspected clinical depression.” After a brief pause, Mr Lyons says while forcing a grin, “It’s just a part of the job.”