What got you into teaching?
Growing up I was really into acting and performing arts, and I think to be an effective teacher you need to be able to perform in some way shape or form. I started coaching a youth football team and I really enjoyed it. Eventually, I found myself at uni studying BA in Primary Education.
Tell us about your first teaching position.
My first teaching position is at Davyhulme, where I still work today. It is a fantastic school with wonderful pupils and supportive staff. I have always felt challenged, and have continued to build experience in a variety of ways within the school.
Who inspired you early on?
There was a teacher when I was at school, Mr Crawford, who had such a positive influence on me and when I decided to go into teaching I wanted to have that impact on others. Since I have been teaching, having Alan Peat deliver training at our school completely changed the way I taught literacy. I am very fortunate to now work alongside him.
If you could share one great thing about where you work now, what would it be?
I think for me having such a supportive staff makes all the difference. I love working at Davyhulme, and having a staff who are also friends means that we work hard for each other; we are a team. Most staff at my school will make sure they sit in the staff room at lunch and have 20/30 mins where we chat about things outside the classroom. I think it is important you give yourself a break during the day, so that you go into the afternoon with a smile on your face.
What’s the best part of your job?
I am in a very lucky to be in a position where I work part time in school and now lead training and INSET worldwide. I absolutely love it! To be able to run a project in school and then share it with teachers all over the world is amazing! I love the look on the children's faces when they see all the schools and teachers who have seen their wonderful work.
You spend a lot of your time training other teachers and sharing your resources. How did that all start?
Most of the training I lead focuses on using technology to raise standards in the classroom. A lot of the time, I talk about how powerful the internet can be as a way of showcasing and sharing work children do in class. This is what happened with me, I started blogging some ideas and tweeting them, next minute I had a school contact me asking to lead a session in their school. Soon after, Alan Peat tweeted me after hearing good things, and asked to watch one of my sessions. Now I am in this incredible position, where I get to travel and visit schools all over the place but still spend some time each week in class at Davyhulme!
What are the greatest challenges you face as a teacher?
I think trying to get other teachers to work smarter rather than harder. I see teachers working harder than ever before. What I try to demonstrate is that when utilised to its potential, technology can make your life as a teacher easier and mean you have more time to plan and deliver more creative and inspiring lessons for your pupils. The challenge is getting teachers to find their purpose in using technology, that is what I aim to do in my training. Once teachers can see the purpose in using technology themselves they are more open to utilising it effectively with their pupils.
What resources do you use every week? You seem to especially like pop culture-centric ones...
I do use technology a lot, but I make sure it is always to enhance the learning. I don't use technology for the sake of it, and I think that is important. I tend to talk to children and see what they are into, and try to be heavily led by them as I find engagement can lead into purposeful and meaningful learning. My blog shares a lot of the ideas I use including film, video games and music. Recently, we did a lot of work inspired by the new Star Wars film, and the quality of writing from the children was fantastic!
Anyone you’d like to give a shout-out to?
Obviously all the great staff Davyhulme Primary School for being supportive! Alan Peat for all his help and support in my venture into consultancy. John Murray of Reading Explorer, Mat Sullivan of Inspired Minds, Mark Anderson and Jon Chippindall are other great trainers I have the pleasure to work with.
Tea or coffee?
With all the travelling I now do, I drink a lot of coffee!