A bbc Interview with Alex Caunt @MrCYear5
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
My name is Alex Caunt, I'm a Year 5 teacher and about to enter my 4th year teaching in Southampton. Also entering 3rd year as PE coordinator!
What made you become a teacher?
- Probably a genuine love of being in school. Junior and Secondary school were the best days of my life and I was lucky enough to have some amazing teachers. In particular Mr Mawdsley in Year 4 who introduced me to the genius that is Paul Jennings and Mr Williams, my secondary maths teacher, who against all odds got me to pass my maths gcse. He also played his guitar daily. They inspired me.
What is your favourite part of the job?
- The children, hands down. That's who I go in for everyday. No matter how I'm feeling, they always manage to put a smile on my face. The light bulb moments, the constant laughs, the enquiry and wonder. I'd be bored stiff in any other job!
What has been best thing you have done at work this year?
What is the most frustrating thing about teaching at the moment?
- I have 2. Is that cheating? They're equally frustrating though! Outside perception of the job from from all walks of life. The government don't have a clue about what it's like to actually work in a school. My school has already been affected by cuts, which is only going to make the job harder! Also the amount of people who moan about the job. I'm hardly a 'sunshine and rainbows' kind of guy, but I genuinely LOVE what I do and feel priveleged to work with my kids. Staffroom moaners sap the good vibes!
What songs would be on your driving to work playlist?
- The Maccabees, I still haven't forgiven them for splitting up, so I plead ignorance and pretend they haven't broken and listen to them daily. Other than them, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Radiohead or the Indie Roadtrip playlist on Spotify!
What is the funniest thing a child has ever said/written in your class?
- There's too many to count, it's one of the main reasons I love my job, it's never boring. In French, one of my Year 4s kept repeatedly calling a Swan 'lasagne' as opposed to 'la cygne'. But the funniest ever was when one of my Year 5s was completing an online safety task. When asked what worried her most about using the Internet, she simply replied 'buffering on Netflix'. It puts me in stitches thinking about it now!
It is a curse of modern times.
What is your guilty pleasure?
- My guilty pleasure would have to be air drumming to Phil Collins, Cadbury advert gorilla-style. Also Paw Patrol. If anyone asks, I watch it with my two nieces. But I'm pretty emotionally invested. If anyone says they weren't crying when those dogs were trying to save those baby turtles, they're lying
To be fair, it has more depth than some children´s TV, and less trippy.
If you weren´t a teacher, what would you be and why?
- Either a chef or a zookeeper. It was my lifelong dream to become a zookeeper, still is secretly, but I flunked my science A Level and never retook it. If it wasn't for me focusing on getting into teaching too, I'd have retaken. I worked in pubs from the age of 13 to 21, quitting before my NQT year, so did a lot of cooking in my time!
What are you passionate about (teaching-related or not)?
- Sport, family and relaxation. I absolutely love sport, both in and outside of school. It's my perfect escapism, as it is for many children. I love being able to provide platforms for them to shine and show their skills, as not everyone is built for the classroom. My nieces are my whole world. I see them everyday and feel very lucky that I get to watch them on their journey through life. As for relaxation... I'm one of the world's best worriers, which is something I try not to instill into my class. It's my job to worry, not theirs! I've always found that a relaxing classroom environment has always led to better learning and more fun!
If you had to pick one subject/topic to teach on a loop forever, what would it be?
- Tricky question. Probably PE and Maths. I feel that they're my two strongest subjects, which is ironic, as I barely scraped my Maths GCSE pass. I just love how there are often so many combinations and ways for children to find their answer. I'm a big believer in high ceiling tasks, with all my kids accessing at their level with input from me. And games... it's my love. It encourages and teaches so much more than functional skills. Teamwork, tactical knowledge and friendship for a start!
What is the most effective resource/technology/app you use in the classroom?
- I'm a big fan of my iPad and air server. Having apple TV means I can show the children their work on the board instantly, which they love. Also a well stocked book corner! I'd say that 80% of the books in my classroom are ones that I had as a child, much to the delight of my children. Cue comments of 'YOU HAD THIS WHEN YOU WERE 10 AND NOW YOU'RE 24, YOU'RE SO OLD MR C.' Cheers guys. Free access to a lot of quality texts has definitely raised the profile of reading in my classroom though. Also, Google earth is pretty cool.
What is the most effective routine/method/system you use in the classroom?
- Probably just clear, high expectations that I stick to enforcing! A lot of the children in my school don't have a lot of structure/boundaries outside of school, so implementing it in class really helps them. Obviously it helps me too! It can be exhausting making sure I'm always on it and implementing, and I found it harder this year in Year 4, but I'm back for my 3rd year of Year 5 in September so the children are a bit more mature. And believe it or not *whispers quietly* I tend to find children actually LIKE systems and rules! Creates a good atmosphere where all children know where they stand. Also, I'm a bad joke merchant, which causes some eye rolls but I know the kids secretly love it.
Isn´t that the description of every teacher?
If you had to pick 4 people (Twitter or otherwise) to invite to a dinner party who
would it be and why?
- That is hard! There's genuinely so many amazing teachers and professionals on here. But if I had to choose 4 from Twitter it'd be @etaknipsa, @Mr_P_Hillips, @Mr_Beetroot and @_MrJeffery. All 4 have offered me laughs, help and support since I've been on edutwitter. A wicked group of tweeters. There are many more I could have listed though! Non twitter it'd definitely be Noel/Liam Gallagher (do they count as 1 if I invited them as Oasis?), Matt Le Tissier, Jason Segel and Jeff Goldblum.
Yet another teacher who doesn´t know the difference between 4 and 9.
What is the best and worst advice you have been given as a teacher?
- The best advice is that it's okay to ask for help. I went through three years of university thinking that I was being adequately set up for life as an NQT. In reality, I don't feel that uni set me up for it well at all! There are so many things that you only experience when in the classroom. I felt like I couldn't ask for help. I was lucky I had an amazing mentor though, as well as supportive colleagues on twitter too, such as @Mr_Beetroot who gave me some good advice when I was having a bit of a meltdown in NQT year. I won't forget that. Even now, 3 years in, I have wobbles. But asking for help is okay! Worst advice would obviously be the classic 'don't smile until Christmas'. What an absolute load of balls. Also being told to 'teach for Ofsted' is something that no newbies should listen to. Ever.
Final Question: What drives you as a teacher?
- I don't mean to sound cliché, but it literally is the want and desire to make a different for my children. They're the reason I got into teaching, and I'll do anything I can to help them be successful! There's no better feeling in school than those light bulb moments.
If you could choose one person who you´d love to have the bbc interview treatment, who would it be and why?
- @mr_parkes. He's been one of my best mates since we met at university 6 years ago and he's making huge waves in SEN. He's a wizard when working with SEMH too. I know that a lot of people would gain a lot from his interview!