#bbcinterview with @misssdoherty
- First tell us about yourself.
Ooh gosh, that’s a big question. I hope they get easier.
I am Shannen, I am 28. I’ve been teaching for five years in LKS2 in three schools. I am maths and PSHE lead with some joint dabbling in assessment too. I live in South London. I think that’s everything!
- 1. Why teaching? What would you be if you weren’t a teacher?
My decision to be a teacher is an incredibly uncool story. I looked up at my Y4 teacher (shout out to Miss Stanton) and thought she was so cool and clearly loved her job a lot. So I decided I wanted to be a teacher. I started teaching dance to littl’uns when I was 13 and loved it and it all just took off from there! I did work experience in schools and knew it was for me so kept on going until I was there.
When I was a child, I was convinced I could be a lawyer, teacher and dolphin trainer all at once so I’d obviously be a dolphin training lawyer if I weren’t teaching. Or some kind of performer. I love musical theatre and I’d happily be in the chorus of a show!
- Teaching is like dolphin training... 2. What advice would you give for newcomers to twitter?
I’m not sure I’m in a position to be handing out advice but I’ll certainly give it a go!
• Get involved. Whether it’s taking part in Monday night’s #PrimaryRocks chat or joining in with discussions or debates, you have to throw yourself into it. I think I started just spamming conversations with gifs and my delightful sense of humour until I made friends.
• Don’t whine about not having many followers. I don’t want to sound bitchy but people don’t want to follow people who moan about no one following them! It takes time to develop relationships on twitter and following someone doesn’t mean you should be followed back.
• Don’t follow every Tom, Dick and Susan you come across. Take time to curate your feed to what you want to read about.
• Use pictures and gifs in your tweets. Quite often, I stop and look at tweets because there’s a funny gif. It sounds ridiculous but it catches the eye!
• Don’t get caught up in arguments and don’t take it personally. Twitter is not worth being upset over but it can feel personal sometimes!
• Turn off your notifications. I think I became fairly addicted to Twitter when mine were turned on and it’s just not healthy. Open the app or log in when you want to. You don’t need your phone buzzing non-stop because you’ve been tagged in a thread about your favourite brand of baked beans.
• Learn to mute conversations to avoid the above happening.
• Enjoy it! It’s great fun and we’re so lucky to have this network of people at our fingertips.
- 3. What are your passions?
Is it sad that Maths is the first thing that comes to mind? I just love it. It’s a beautiful subject and it’s something I do a lot of reading about.
Other than that, I love reading and try to get through a book a week but it’s hard to keep up with it when life gets in the way.
I love cooking and baking. It calms me and then I can stuff my face after. What’s not to like?!
I spend a lot of time singing and it makes me happy!
I am the trustee of a young people’s charity as well, I suppose you could say that is a passion! I do it because it’s important and I want to help where I can.
- 4. What has been your favourite lesson ever?
I famously can't pick favourites so I have chosen two...
The first one was when I was at my old school. I did a fair amount of work for my deputy head's maths hub teacher research group and would often have 15 people observing a lesson. They'd already been to see me a couple of weeks prior when I was teaching rounding in Y4 but my very small (13) and needy class didn't respond well to it so I went down to Y2 and taught maths in there for a week. It was on subtraction and one of my favourite sequences of planning that I've done. The actual showcase lesson was a dream but my favourite lesson from the week was the first day. The kids were fairly new to mastery and completely soaked up the vocabulary and stem sentences and I could see the learning happening before my eyes. They were confidently using manipulatives and different models. It was just wonderful to watch and be part of.
The second wasn't a lesson as such but will always stay with me. It was after the London Bridge terrorist attacks. I worked in an inner London school and naturally our children were quite nervous about it. I can't remember what our lesson was supposed to be on now but we spent it talking about the attacks. I had been in London Bridge that night but thankfully was safe in the train station. I was teaching Y3 at the time and they had such emotionally mature questions that it made going off on that tangent completely worth it. It was almost therapeutic for me to discuss it and it helped them get their worries and thoughts out. There's an awful lot to be said for those off-the-cuff tangents that we go on, especially when they are about what is going on in the world.
- 5. Who should play you in the film of your life?
Neil Almond asked this the other day on twitter and I didn’t reply because I have no idea! I am just picturing a mix of Jess from New Girl, Ugly Betty, Miranda Hart and Melissa McCarthy! Anyone who can pull off goofy and sarcastic will do.
- 6. What is the best/worst teaching advice you’ve heard?
I think the best advice was to give the children time. It was in a time when lessons had to be ‘pacy’ and that was being confused with fast. If a lesson didn’t have a quick pace, it wasn’t good enough. I had moved schools and it was my first observation of the year. We had the classic “How do you think it was?” chat and I automatically said, “Well I think it could have had more pace.” and she stopped me and said that giving the children time isn’t a crime and pushing them for quick answers doesn’t help anyone. It’s definitely something I’ve taken with me into my current role when I am watching lessons fairly often. There’s a definite difference between pace and speed.
As for the worst advice, there’s been plenty over the years! The one that sticks with me is don’t show your emotions with your class. I understand where they were coming from but one of the best parts of being a primary school teacher is the relationship we develop with our children. It’s a two way street. We expect them to open up to us so we need to be open with them... to an extent! I’m not saying I tell them everything about my life but letting them in goes a long way in gaining that relationship.
- 7. If you were an inanimate object, what would you be?
I put a solid ten minutes of thought into this and then I phoned a friend. She says I am a board game. I am fully on board with that answer.
- No pun intended.
Haha see? I am so entertaining... like a board game.
- 8. What's your most controversial opinion?
Oooof. When I did my PGCE, most subject lectures and seminars were on inquiry-based learning. The kind of child-led, project-based stuff where they take the reins and go wild. Or when you give a group a text and they have to teach each other about it. I just hate it. There is a lot to be learned and I think we should do more of the teaching... because we are teachers. I dread to think how many hours in my NQT year were spent with children finding their own way through and not actually learning anything.
- 9. Which 4 living people would you invite to dinner?
I don’t think I have a very exciting or interesting answer to this. Maybe it’s because we’re in lockdown but right now I’d love to sit around the table with my parents, my sister and my best friend. I don’t need fancy things or famous, just my four favourite people will do!
- Sounds perfect to me.
I certainly think so :)
- 10. What would you like to be remembered for?
That’s a tough question! I don’t need to be remembered for anything big or fancy, even if I do have the odd crazy fantasy of writing books and taking the education world by storm! Though I know I won’t be here to see it, I’d be happy if people remembered me as caring and authentic and funny and generous all the things I try to be every day.
- Finally….Who would you nominate for an interview?
Well I’ve already suggested about 147 people to you so …