This month I catch up with the fabulous Dr Sarah Moseley.
Tell me about yourself
The first thing I should tell you is that I can talk! I will try and keep this as concise as possible but probably something that most people would say about me is that there's never a dull moment 😊 I am quite an enthusiastic and energetic person. I always say that I can never walk into a room without people knowing that I'm there, as well as having a great deal of energy I'm tall, so these two things together mean that my entrance into a place is usually known! I am passionate about what I do and love to solve problems or find solutions to things. I am family orientated and feel very lucky to have such close relationships with those around me.
What was the first job you had?
My first job was working in Miss Selfridge in Wimbledon. I'll never forget that job as you could choose your clothing from the shop floor, which I thought was amazing and I remember in particular a black puffball skirt that I wore with long socks. The job that I can remember really enjoying was working in a play scheme during holidays, I grew up in a family of teachers and just loved being around children.
What path led you to becoming an Educational Consultant?
I don't think I ever made a conscious decision to work within special education, let alone become an educational consultant! Special education kind of drew me in as my career progressed.
My mum worked within special education and my auntie was a secondary art teacher, so I spent most of my holidays in their classrooms. it also made me very aware of what a tough career path teaching was.
I did a psychology degree, purely based on the fact that I enjoyed learning about people and behavior, rather than it being a route to a particular career. My first year included philosophy and economics which I found really interesting. I remember at the time that Maureen Lipman was on the TV doing an advert for SPAM. She celebrated her son getting a qualification in sociology and I knew that whatever happened at least I have an ology! After that I was lucky enough to get a job working within a special school as a teaching assistant, from there the career path of becoming a teacher began to evolve. I realised as I started to study again for my PGCE that I had a love for learning, something that it escaped me throughout my degree. I also became aware that I liked libraries and spending time with all the books, I became quite fascinated with why some children really struggle with learning and what we can do is adults to support this. From there I worked within mainstream primary schools but became frustrated with teaching as I couldn’t support the high number of learners I met who struggled to read. I didn’t have the time or knowledge I felt I needed.
I went traveling for several years and while I was away, I again realised how poor my waitress and bar skills were and I hated it! Luckily, I was rescued by the education department in the Northern Territory, after I left their large table without food for nearly an hour, having lost the order. I spent a year working in schools across the Northern Territory in Alice Springs and Darwin which I loved! My roles ended up being focused on supporting those learners with additional needs. When I came home, I took my first supply job within a special school and the rest is history. I started my business nearly three years ago after taking a leap of faith! I feel very lucky to do something I love and that gives me the flexibility to be a school run mum to my 7-year-old son.
Can you describe a typical day?
My best days are where I drop my son at school in the morning and get to pick him up at the end of his day. I am grateful that my career path has led me to be able to do this and to meet so many passionate people. After the school run, I do a beach fit class on my local beach, twice a week, which is a fabulous start to the day. I then generally have online meetings with schools, families, or other organisations. These are generally to plan training, visits, support or just provide advice about ways to reduce barriers to learning for a child or young person. I am currently writing new training sessions for the next academic year, which allows me to indulge my passion for research, reading and accessing so many amazing articles and stories. I use voice memos, to do lists and IT to gather and collect the huge number of resources and links I come across. I may have a training session in the afternoon, which I do across the UK and further through the power of the internet. I always make sure I spend time with my son after school, we may go to the park, play date or local café. My partner comes home around 5 and my favourite part of the day is when we can all be together (this includes our cat Fred).
What is your favourite thing about your job?
As I have said one of the things, I love is the flexibility it gives me to be mum. The other amazing thing is that I can make the best use of my skills and passions to help others. The joy of meeting a new school, professional or learner and using all my knowledge and skills to help support finding ways to make a difference to learners is a privilege. I get to meet so many different people and have learnt so much that I am able to link lots of different pieces of information within my brain to help. I had not realised that my forensic brain and enthusiasm for detail would be of such use to others! It’s a joy to feel that I am making a difference.
What is your proudest career moment?
During the process of writing my book I gathered case studies of impact from people who had been part of my training that focused on supporting literacy for all learners. My training emphasises the importance of creating inclusive literacy opportunities across all contexts. Hearing and seeing the impact that my training has had on learners has been incredible, there are so many stories that reinforce the importance of us as adults refining how we think about literacy and reading. To look at how we can give everyone opportunities to be included in a community of readers and be defined as readers. This means we need a wider more inclusive definition of what reading looks like from sensory stories, music, drama, immersive experiences where print is included as a meaningful part of everyone’s environment.
Your new book ‘Teaching Literacy to all Learners including those with Complex Needs’ is due out on 21st March. Tell me more!
The book aims to pull together theory and practice in a way that is useful for those working with children and young people who may be struggling to learn to read, linking all areas of literacy including communication and writing. I wanted to pull together information from some of the amazing people I learnt from during my own early teaching career (Flo Longhorn, Keith Park, Nicola Grove, Les Staves, Richard Hirstwood), to more recent fabulous influences you (Victoria Navin, Founder of Rhyming Multisensory Stories), Jo Grace, Carol Allen, Story Massage, Pete Wells). I hope that this is linked with useful and informative resources (Call Scotland, Phonics Books, Bag Books) In a framework that helps others to know where to begin, supporting a deeper understanding of how we engage learners and motivate them. I want to empower others to see how they can support all children and young people to be part of the wonderful world of literature.
Are you working on any exciting projects?
I am starting a new book focusing on the teaching of writing to all, this is forming the basis of new and updated training courses. I am busy with in person training this year with an increasing number of mainstream settings asking for support. I love to go into schools and organisations and feel excited to be getting out there to support more people.
What are your top tips for teaching literacy to individuals with complex needs?
Start with what they enjoy or are interested in, use their strengths, make it fun and keep it that way! Make sure most of the session focuses on what they know, developing confidence and using this as a springboard for new skills. Then repeat and repeat some more, providing multi-sensory ways for information to take many pathways to the brain while keeping learners engaged and motivated.
What advice would you give to new teachers?
Take your time, be led by the learner. Find out what the gaps are and focus on the key skills needed. Make the most of those around you, ask questions, observe others and trust your instincts!
Which three historical figures would you invite for supper and why?
Marie Curie as I would love to have a conversation about her work and find out more about her thought process!
Elizabeth 1st as I am obsessed by this period in history, I love the buildings, clothes and would love to find out more.
Jane Austin as I would be so interested to find out more about the writing of her books, what inspired her and how she developed the plots and characters
You have a time machine set with two trips. Where are you going to go?
Tudor era – I am just fascinated by the period in history.
1960s as I love the music and fashion!
What three items would you take to a desert island?
My son! – I’m not sure I would cope without him, and he would love it (sorry Andy (my partner) although he could come and bring his boat!)
Tell me a secret!
I can’t spell and my grammar is shocking! Although not much of a secret after you have had to edit this interview
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I have just watched the Chris Packham documentary “Inside our autistic minds” and he wished he could read minds to help support non-speaking learners, that sounds an awesome superpower
What advice would you give to your younger self?
That life is full of surprises, and you will have many different lives so don’t sweat the small stuff!
...and your motto Sarah?
Every action no matter how small, can make a difference!
I provide face to face or online training, consultancy, coaching, mentoring, keynote presentations, information and support for professionals and families from all sectors, specialising in school improvement and raising outcomes for all learners.
I am passionate about making a positive difference to the lives, attitudes and outcomes of those who may struggle to learn. I offer a bespoke service based on a belief that every action, can make a difference.
Website & Mailing List Link: www.drsarahmoseley.com
Social media links
Instagram: Dr Sarah Moseley
LinkedIn: Dr Sarah Moseley
Book link: Teaching Reading to All Learners Including Those with Complex Needs: A Framework for Progression within an Inclusive Reading Curriculum (nasen spotlight) : Moseley, Sarah: Amazon.co.uk: Books
Thank you to Sarah for this interview.
If you would like to feature in the blog, get in touch:)