Education is a two-way thing! It is not just the skills and knowledge we teach our young people that are important but the lessons we can learn from our students too!
I was working in Spain teaching English as an additional language to Spanish and Moroccan students, running a chilli farm and working as a freelance writer.
The travellers arrived at the local campsite and asked if I would teach the children to read.
The next day, twelve children arrived on my doorstep ranging from sticky-faced 4-year-olds to 14-year-olds skidding in on their quad bikes!
I ploughed straight into teaching phonics and the children became restless very quickly and with boredom comes mischief.
I needed to get to know these children before we could progress any further, so I took them into the fruit fields.
We picked oranges, lemons, pomegranates, and figs. We used our senses to help put into words how these fruits looked, felt, tasted, and smelt. We made bark rubbings of knotted old olive and almond trees and listened to the sounds of nature.
The children opened and told me about themselves, and I decided to teach them things that would be useful to their transient lives, basic words and phrases in Spanish, reading simple menus and signs then we progressed to money skills, geography and map reading.
I became good friends with the travellers and would teach their children when they passed through town.
Years later one of the children drew me a picture of his
caravan. It was a beautiful chalk drawing, but the
caravan had no wheels, so I handed the drawing back
for the young boy to finish posing the question
‘how are you going to move your caravan?’
He screwed his face up deep in concentration,
picked up a stumpy crayon and drew on a tow bar.
It was this moment that inspired me to return to college in the UK to gain the qualifications to work in education.
I spent 10 very happy years working at a special school in Cheshire.
I taught literacy interventions to students with ASD, Sensory Processing and Complex Needs (aged 3-19) and started writing multisensory stories to connect these students to literature, culture and topic in a way that was meaningful to their lives and would teach them skills.
In March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit I built the website as a free resource to help parents, carers and educators during the during the school closures.
I now divide my time writing new material and delivering training.