A bbc Interview with That Boy Can Teach aka Batman

Up next is Mr. Mystery himself ´That Boy Can Teach´ or, as I like to call him, ´Batman´. I am one of the privileged few to have always known his secret identity, and was just about to sell him out to the papers when he removed his cloak of secrecy himself. Well, sort-of.

Please introduce yourself, as vaguely as you like.

- My real identity is out there and easy enough to find - I'll leave readers to sleuth that one out for themselves.

I've just completed my 11th year of teaching having done a 4 year teaching degree (with art) straight after 6th form. I've worked at three very different schools in the Bradford area - my current one is in a deprived city centre location where the majority of children have English as an additional language.

For the last 5 years I've taught in year 6 (in two schools) but have taught in all KS2 year groups (despite specialising in KS1 at uni).

I've been an assistant principal for the last three years leading the UKs2 phase and maths across the school. Next year I'll be leading LKS2 and mentoring NQTs and SCITT students and continuing with Maths for three days a week - the other two days I'll be working as Primary Lead Practitioner with the other primaries in our MAT on various projects.

What made you become a teacher?

- I got to 6th form and wasn't sure what to apply to do at uni. A few family members and friends suggested I should do teaching because I was good with kids (I'm the eldest of 5). I got the head boy to write my UCAS form and the rest is history. Thankfully I enjoyed the course and found I could do the job.

What is your favourite part of the job?

- The part that I don't really realise I'm doing - in the classroom when I get into that flow state with the children and an hour of learning just passes in a flash. It's when I look back and realise all that's happened and that I was genuinely just totally absorbed in the job of helping children to learn.

That´s usually the moment I realise that we haven´t achieved the WALT, but have probably learnt something more important.

What has been best thing you have done at work this year?
I'm most proud of the team I've led - we've really worked well together and our success as a team is all about the children. We've tried out loads of new stuff and have always pushed ourselves further and further - I've been so thankful that they've been really up for doing so. The previous two years as uks2 phase leader I felt I focused much more on my teaching and not enough on leading the team - this year I managed to get a better balance.

What is the most frustrating thing about teaching at the moment?
- For me it's that so many teachers are not enjoying their jobs. It frustrates me to know that despite all the pressures put on us, it doesn't have to be a job that wears people down to the point where they have no option but to quit. I think there are probably a lot of school leaders out there who are neglecting the need to make changes to the way their schools are run to ensure that their staff have a better quality of life.

What songs would be on your driving to work playlist?

- I actually don't listen to music on the way to work - that's deliberate. I use that time to think, pray and reflect. Having half an hour of doing that prepares me well for stepping through the door at work. Coming home though is a different story - I still have an iPod classic and I usually just put that on shuffle meaning that I get anything from Britpop, Hip Hop, Soul, Disco, Classic Rock, Funk and everything else in between.

It´s so important to have those moments of calm. Finding time to pray and reflect is so difficult, especially with a busy family life. I might try that myself this year.

What is the funniest thing a child has ever said/written in your class?

- I'm so bad at remembering these things! I had one year 6 boy once who was a naturally comedic writer - he wrote a letter of complaint about his bag of sweets about how he was dismayed there were no actual playing cards in his black jacks, and no real pieces of fruit in his fruit salad, and so on... I guess you had to be there.

I guess so.

What is your guilty pleasure?

- I don't think I'm particularly embarrassed about any of my pleasures but in certain company admitting that I love playing with Lego and rollerblading makes me feel about 8 and 16 respectively!

If you weren´t a teacher, what would you be and why?
         - That always changes. At the moment it'd probably be something to do with writing - not that I think I'm amazing or anything but I like writing about things. Whatever I've been into over the years I've written about - I used to run a successful but niche blog about UK Hip Hop. I guess I'd love to do music journalism.

How niche? Is it traceable? *Googles...*

What are you passionate about (teaching-related or not)?

- That all important passion question!

You know me.

- I suppose I am passionate about people being the best they can be. Not in a fake X Factor Disney way that says you can do anything, but in a more realistic having high expectations and working hard way. Coupled to that though I am passionate about people being well enough to excel - so not too much hard work, not hard work which isn't efficient anyway.

If you had to pick one subject/topic to teach on a loop forever, what would it be?

- That's a tough one and I'd probably opt for English although I really love teaching Maths too. Even saying English is a cheat because it means I'd get to teach reading and writing. I think with reading there is a chance of teaching every other subject and that's why I'd pick it!

So you basically haven´t answered my questions there.

What is the most effective resource/technology/app you use in the classroom?

- I am pretty much a Luddite when it comes to technology in the classroom. I use my interactive whiteboard well but that's about it. I love technology personally but have not tried very hard to get past the usual gremlins of uncharged devices and constantly out-of-date software. If pen and paper could be classed as technology I'd say that.

Burn the machines!

What is the most effective routine/method/system you use in the classroom?

- A good question because it would be hard to say which is THE most effective. We actually do a few 'routines' suggested in Doug Lemov's Teach Like A Champion. I like the 'preparedness' routines that keep me organised and make things happen super-efficiently. For example, we have certain ways of handing out and collecting in books and so on - I time them to get it really speedy. We can get all books collected in in less than 10 seconds!

If you had to pick 4 people (Twitter or otherwise) to invite to a dinner party who
would it be and why?

         - I'd definitely have my wife there as she can always get a conversation going which makes that be needed with a random selection of people I've never met! I'm going to go for actor, author and musician - all alive. Jonny Depp because I want to find out which of his characters is most like him, Ian Rankin because of all conversation fails I'm sure he could tell a good story or provide us with an interesting playlist and let's say Damon Albarn from Blur, just because I like Blur. It would probably turn out to be a disaster. I'm not massively into celebrities so I'd probably rather just have any of my family or friends round!

What is the best and worst advice you have been given as a teacher?

         - The best advice I had was probably 'be yourself' in the classroom - that was after a lesson in which I displayed no sense of humour but did a load of gimmicky things that I thought the observer might want to see. The worst advice was probably the opposite of that - telling me to teach in a certain way and to include certain things which is now consider superfluous to a good lesson.

Final Question: What drives you as a teacher?

- In all honesty I'm a fairly driven person - so whatever I commit to do, I want to do it well. I'm driven by providing for my family, which is a nice way of saying I want to earn money. But in terms of the actual job I do, as I mentioned before, I'm driven by making things better - that could be a child's life chances, a colleague's teaching, or my own skills and knowledge.

If you could choose one person who you´d love to have the bbc interview treatment, who would it be and why?

I think you should interview Rae Snape next!


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