#bbcinterview with @MissNCleveland


- First tell us about yourself.

I'm a mum, HLTA & School Librarian in a primary school in Coventry, and according to my son, I'm quite old.

- Harsh. 1. Why work in schools? What would you be if you weren’t a HLTA?

Holidays, obviously! Kidding, have you seen how much more expensive it is to jet off in August?

I worked in Human Resources after university, in a training college for a large telecoms company before moving to an education charity. Weeks spent supporting some inspirational candidates on their NPQH residentials got me thinking that I might enjoy supporting children more than adults.

I changed career after my son was born, the plan being to get a few year's experience as a TA before training to be a teacher. But, I loved being a TA, and as a newly single mum, needed to be there for my son outside of school hours so teacher training wasn't a practical option. I went for HLTA status instead and haven't looked back since being given responsibility for the school library as well.

If I could be anything else, I'd want my current role with more library hours. I love the mix of being class based and running library sessions, but more library hours to work with more children who  don't find reading easy or fun in any way would be brilliant.

- I wanted to be a librarian when I was younger

You're still young Ben, there's time yet!

- I will get there

- 2. What advice would you give for newcomers to twitter?

Be yourself, be kind, and follow the advice you'd give to your pupils about the way you behave online.

There is a great community of people on here from every corner of education to help with ideas, whether in or out of the classroom and for laughs. Find your people and enjoy.

Don't spend time getting involved in Twitter arguments, unless you like arguments - they can get really nasty, and you can guarantee someone, somewhere will have a screenshot of your contribution to beat you with forever more. I'm fairly certain there are better hills to die on out there.

Also, mute and block are your friends. Use them to clean up your feed if there are subjects or people you'd rather not see everytime you scroll.

And finally, lock your DMs to people you follow, unless you have a good reason to keep them open, or are happy to receive (how shall I word this...) less than savoury requests/photographs. There are some strange people out there...

That sounds a bit negative, and I don't mean it to be. EduTwitter is a great place with some truly amazing and  inspiring people. Find your feet and join in!

- No that’s good advice. 3. What are your passions?

Books, reading and sharing the joy they bring with others, especially children. I love that they can create a safe space to explore emotions, different experiences and build knowledge and empathy. And the conversations change from adult-child to reader-reader when you've been on the same journey through a book. It doesn't matter what I'm doing, I can be distracted by a good old book blether.

I also love live music, and have an eclectic taste. It's another form of storytelling that brings people together. A music festival will see me singing along (badly) and dancing away to a wide range of styles. I know it's for the best, but I'm fairly certain, given current circumstances, come August Bank Holiday Sunday, I won't be sitting in a field drinking cider in the sun waiting for The Wurzels this year, which some may see as a blessing, but is an annual highlight for me. If you've ever seen and heard 4000 people in a field, overlooking the sea, and singing along to their cover of Ruby, you'd understand...

- Not sure about that...

Don't knock it until you've tried it!

- 4. What has been your favourite lesson ever?

Favourite lesson? Possibly when I was at secondary school and our Latin teacher lost it and told anyone who didn't want to be there to leave, so we did. Only one child stayed and that was because he was asleep.

Oh hang on, you mean as an adult!

My favourite ever moment came after a string of reading sessions I did with a Year 5 group using Varjak Paw by S.F. Said. One of the children in the group was still sounding out CVC words at the start of Year 4, and was at a Year 1 level according to tests. For me, he was in the group to listen, explore and develop his opinions, because I knew his understanding was better than he could show us on paper. He loved it, got inferences his peers didn't, and went on to read the Outlaw Varjak Paw at home with his mum afterwards, and then wrote me a book review. This was a child who would avoid writing wherever possible but chose to write a review for me. It said, "That was the greatest moment of my life."  Yeah kid, mine too!

- 5. Who should play you in the film of your life?

My partner would say I'm Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher (my family are so nice about me aren't they?) and the children at school call my Edna E Mode doll (fashion queen from The Incredibles) Mini Miss Cleveland. Considering all of that, and utterly ignoring them all, I'd like Sandra Bullock to play me.

- 6. What is the best/worst teaching advice you’ve heard?

I'll start with the worst: September INSET day many years ago, and said in all seriousness, "TAs in classrooms should be seen and not heard."

The best: for me as a HLTA, Mary Myatt talking about high challenge, low threat and giving children to the opportunity to work above their pay grade. I spend a lot of time supporting children working towards expected,  and plan work that wouldn't look out of place in the main lessons, just from an earlier starting point to build fluency and confidence. We have to have high expectations and believe that the children can achieve, or we are setting out to fail them.

- 7. If you were an inanimate object, what would you be?

A book. Can I be a magic book though, so that whoever opens it get to read the book they need at that time?

- 8. What's your most controversial opinion?

It's a toss up between cream before jam on a scone, and Lord Of The Rings being the most tedious book I have ever attempted to read. I've never finished it.

- Well you are wrong on both scores. I like to eat proper cream tea (jam first) whilst reading The Fellowship of the Ring.

Ewwww, no and no!

- 9. Which 4 living people would you invite to dinner?

I don't want four people or dinner. I just want to be able to hug my son who moved to his Dad's for lockdown because of me going in to school.

Any other time, I'd probably choose Joanna Lumley, Rhys Ifans, the Dalai Lama and Tom Kerridge to do the cooking.

- An eclectic mix!

The conversations would be interesting!

- 10. What would you like to be remembered for?

As long as I'm remembered with a smile, I don't care what it's for!

- Finally….Who would you nominate for an interview?

I'd nominate @cazzash and @caroljallen. Both brilliant, inspirational women.

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