#bbcInterview2 with @emmccatt
- First, tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in London and I teach in an inner city South East London school, which I absolutely love. KS1 and EYFS is where my heart lies. Being in a one form entry school I'm a bit of a Jill of all trades. I'm currently EYFS/KS1 lead and Maths and Art lead. I haven't always been a teacher. It wasn't actually something I seriously thought I could do until my mid twenties. I'd always thought about teaching in the back of my mind, but had never seriously considered it. When Schools Direct launched, with the support of my boyfriend I decided to go for it! Feminism, early learning and an obsessive love of all things cat related pretty much sum me up.
- You had me until the cat thing. Interview cancelled.
Oh come on, you've seen my cat. He's adorable.
- 1. Why teaching? What would you be if you weren’t a teacher?
I haven't always been a teacher. It wasn't actually something I seriously thought I could do until my mid twenties. At Uni I studied Art History and after Uni I worked for a publishing company which is far less glamorous than it sounds. I hated it! I'd always thought about teaching in the back of my mind, but had never seriously considered it. When Schools Direct launched, with the support of my boyfriend I decided to go for it! I find it hard to imagine myself doing anything but teaching how but if I really had to...well those who know me on Twitter know I LOVE animals so hopefully I'd be doing something animal related, with penguins! The best animal out there (along with cats) Are there any jobs out there that involve cats and penguins together?!
- Some form of gladiatorial combat. You’d have to give the cats ice skates I imagine and they would need coaching. It could replace Dancing On Ice.
I think you're onto something there. I'll let you have twenty percent of the profits.
- 2. What advice would you give for newcomers to twitter?
As someone who took a long time to begin engaging on here, Twitter can be overwhelming at first. You just have to get stuck in and be willing to share ideas and thoughts. Look for your community. I follow people that I think are interesting, challenge my thinking, inspire me or make me laugh. For me, it's not about followers but who I'm following. The right people make for a positive experience. And don't worry about follower numbers! It's easy to get sucked into the popularity side of things and want likes, retweets and followers but ultimately it's the connections and friendships that are made that make Twitter what it is. Take part in the weekly #PrimaryRocks chat. It's a wonderful place to be inspired and engage with other primary teachers.
- We can’t all be a big deal, like me.
- 3. What are your passions?
Obviously cats (sorry not sorry, Ben). Apart from cats I'm also a feminist and it is a big part of my life. Gender equity is something I'll forever be passionate about and keep banging on about until it's achieved. It impacts every part of my life, from teaching to the books I read.
- So if I wrote a book about a feminist cat, you’d buy it?
I would buy the (heck) out of a feminist cat book
- 4. What has been your favourite lesson ever?
I've been thinking a lot about my 'favourite lesson' and I don't know that I have just one. What I do have are favourite things/topics to teach and I love seeing the knowledge and skills develop as the topic goes on. This year I have adored teaching The Great Fire of London. Teaching right in the heart of London, it felt relevant and being able to visit sites and the kids actually knowing and being able to visualise locations in their mind meant that the history felt real to them. We spent the whole of autumn term on it and it was incredible watching the children develop their historical skills. They are proper little historians! The proudest moment for me was that lots of them were able to discuss the validity of source materials and why diaries might have a particular perspective, and have unreliable narrators. I know The Great Fire of London is a standard KS1 topic but for London children I do genuinely think it's one of the best to learn about.
- 5. Who should play you in the film of your life?
I'd love to say a really effortlessly cool person like Angelina Jolie but I think in actuality it would be Zooey Deschanel circa the New Girl period. She perfectly encapsulates my social awkwardness, dorky sense of humour and love of a full fringe.
- I’d say that’s a good shout.
I mean she is me right. She totally rocks a pair of glasses too
- 6. What is the best/worst teaching advice you’ve heard?
I find that occasionally on Twitter advice can go to extremes on both sides and it's best to find the middle ground. It's either zero tolerance or no sanctions at all and for me there isn't a single right way to teach, or behaviour manage! When I was gaining my teaching experience, before I trained, the teacher I was with told me the most important thing I could do is get to know the children in my class It isn't particularly exciting but I do believe relationships are key, both with children and colleagues. Getting to know people. Making connections. I wouldn't be able to do my job successfully without relationships. Also, unpopular opinion and completely contradicts what I've just said (classic Emma) but I don't think displays contribute that much to learning. I've heard lots of teachers say how important they are and always see them mentioned every year when there are the 'NQT advice' threads. They can definitely look incredible and create a warm environment but it terms of a learning resource...I'm not convinced.
- 7. If you were an inanimate object, what would you be?
I've been thinking about this all day! I think probably my cat. You might argue that cats are not inanimate objects but clearly you've never seen my cat sleep for 16 hours straight. I had to poke him a minute ago to check he was alive. I wish I could be more cat. We should all be more inanimate cat.
- I'll accept that but recoil in disgust.
One day your eyes will be opened
- And a cat will try to scratch them out.
- 8. What's your most controversial opinion?
I've already mentioned the displays which I know some people are going to hate (Sorry @pastelteacher!). I don't think I'm particularly controversial. I find a lot of value from the two 'sides' of Twitter. The main thing I have found though is things seem to come in waves and when they are given a fancy new title everyone acts like the wheel has been reinvented! Decent teachers have always used techniques like retrieval practice before it was a big thing in the research world. Don't get me wrong, I'm a massive advocate! It's something we use regularly in school and I've delivered staff meetings on it but I don't think it's a 'new' idea. Same with duel coding. That's always been a thing in reception class!
- I’m with you there.
- 9. Which 4 living people would you invite to dinner?
Ok 4 people -
My little brother. He's my best friend and he's lived in the Netherlands for the past 7 years. I don't get to see enough of him.
Margaret Atwood because she is the Queen of all things. Everyone says read Handmaid's Tale (and you absolutely should) but I think the Atwood book everyone in the world should read is Oryx and Crake. Life changing and getting scarily accurate
Roxane Gay. I'm not saying I have a favourite feminist but if I did it would be her. Her Twitter account is hilarious and on point. My PSA to everyone is follow her right now.
The Pope. He's a wonderful human being.
- 10. What would you like to be remembered for?
I'd like to be remembered for doing the right thing. in 200 years time if the world hasn't destroyed itself and the BBC is still running that family tree show I would like a c list celebrity to look through their family history, be related to me, look at my life and say, "Yeah, she seemed like a decent, ethical human being who loved her community, family and friends and stood up for what she thought was right.”
Also if cats take over the world I'd quite like to be the one who helped that happen so I guess I have do have a darker side.
- Finally….Who would you nominate for an interview?
Nominations for an interview - Firstly, for sure
She has so much to offer and has been a complete game changer for KS1 reading. I love what she does for her class. She's been a real inspiration for me this year. She is also a truely wonderful human being and if you want a little more joy in your life, she is one to follow and interview. I'd also love to read more from
. He’s been teaching forever so I imagine he's got lots of good advice and insight to offer twitter. Just don't include a headshot. His eighties fashion might destroy the eyes of your readers.
Thanks Ben. It's been an experience. You missed your calling.