In April, 2011,I was excited to learn about the setting up of an International School at Brooksby Melton College and wanted to be involved so I confirmed my PGCE qualification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language achieved in 1981) and applied for a management role not suited to my abilities at all. I was not offered the post but in the process I met Rob Grant who was leading the project. He engaged me on a zero hour contract for a period of two weeks in July to teach English Literature, British Culture and History to the visiting group of Chinese teachers of English from Shenyang University of Technology.
After just a couple of days with this group of enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate teachers, I came to realize that I needed to ditch my thorough, detailed plans for delivering a curriculum which I had devised and collaborate with the teachers in planning the sessions. In this way we embarked on one of the most stimulating and enjoyable periods in education I have ever experienced. In a spirit of equality and mutual respect, we discussed our plans for each day which generally included time for the teachers to ask me questions and to share their own perspective, some film reviewing, reading extracts from novels, poems and plays which we discussed and used as stimuli for activities. During the activities such as role play, reading aloud, discussion of case studies and worksheet based writing tasks, I modelled a variety of teaching methods and strategies which were currently trending in British classrooms. The ensuing discussion about how these strategies could be adapted for use in Chinese classrooms and University lecture theatres was stimulating and challenging for all of us. It quickly became clear to me that my own trust in the stereotype of Chinese teaching and learning contexts was unfounded since these teachers were just as keen as we are to encourage critical thinking skills among their students. My commentary with reference to the strategies and techniques required to manage behaviour and engagement in a British classroom was much appreciated and we all explored together which elements of group work, Drama, recitation and kinaesthetic learning would translate well into a Chinese learning environment. This experience taught me that, whatever the restraints of a society’s education system, the students who become teachers will, almost inevitably, progress towards a pupil-centred approach in their desire to meet individual students’ needs and to promote real understanding rather than relying on limited rote learning and memorisation.
Shortly after this, in April, 2012, I took up a full time teaching position as Head of English at Maplewell Special Secondary School where I learnt a lot about engaging children and teenagers with behavioural difficulties. I hoped to study for a Master’s degree in Education with a focus on International Education but the funding was not forthcoming. I resigned from that post in 2014.
At last I could afford to study a 1 yr online Masters module in Educational Research with the Open University. I gained a PGCSE (Postgraduate Certificate of Professional Studies in Education) and I fulfilled a long held ambition to take a CELTA (Cambridge English Language Teaching to Adults) course which I knew would help me to improve my delivery of ESOL (English for speakers of Other Languages) for adults and EAL (English as an Additional Language) in schools. This was a 6 week intensive course in Nottingham which was very challenging and tremendous fun mainly because it renewed my confidence in my ability to teach (which had dropped dangerously low during my two years working in a school) and it re-fuelled my enthusiasm for travelling.
From 2014 – 2017 I tutored teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds who had been excluded from schools as well as the Pupil Referral Units where such children are usually taught. They needed 1:1 support and encouragement. It was hard work and quite risky, but rewarding when it went well! I also taught staff who work in Care Homes to raise their English qualifications to level 2 (GCSE equivalent) for a company using government funds.
I left that in 2017 to teach a WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) class in ESOL to Muslim women from African countries, mainly Somalia. That was very rewarding and I won an award from the WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) for this role.
My current jobs (2019) :
LSC (Learning Support Company) – Dyslexia and ASD Specialist Study Skills Support Tutor to University undergraduates and post graduates.
Electronic Note taking
Teaching Personnel 1:1tuition for LAC (Looked After Children who are fostered or in Care)
Private tuition : GCSE resits and at Sixth form College
Voluntary, unpaid charity roles :
LSR (Leicestershire Shared Reading) trained by national organisation based in Liverpool called The reader.org.
Weekly volunteer role leading a Shared Reading Group at a local library.
“After 18”, a charity, weekly teaching English to refugees
Community library volunteer work keeping East Goscote Community Library open since the government will no longer fund it. (Austerity)