I was super happy to find out we could do more than one PLN interview for Brad Patterson’s PLN Challenge (read more about here). The first person I thought of was Ceri Jones, one of my very favorite people on twitter – and off it as well, as we met in Brighton in April. Ceri was the one who hosted my first ever blog post ( The Day Nothing Became Everything) and has been a great, supportive friend all along.
Her blog is filled with ideas for lessons and reflections on her teaching… If you don’t know it, check it out: Close Up
For the interview, we started skyping, but then the connection went bad and we had to finish it mostly through chatting
So here’s Ceri’s interview!
1) If your students were to label you with 3 adjectives, what might they be?
Smiley, approachable and committed.
Smiley didn’t really surprise me… Having met Ceri in person I know she is always smiling. And she has that warm, welcoming smile that just makes you want to smile too. She said she had never noticed it herself but that her students constantly mentioned that to her. I asked her whether she thought being smiley overlapped being approachable, and she agreed.
Students aren’t scared of talking to teachers and asking questions when they look friendly and open.
When it came to committed there was actually a but of “committment”. She thought as committed was a kind of compromise to cover serious, about their learning, committed to them, to doing my best as a teacher I guess, strict and demanding – expecting them to do their best. I couldn’t do anything but agree. Don’t you???
3) What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Mostly fruit…black cherries , which are in season here, apricots and figs – I love figs.
I wasn’t surprised…Ceri is an extremely committed mother and a very balanced – in touch with herself person – and fruit are delicious healthy food. I have to admit I was a bit jealous of the black cherries… We don’t really get them around here. I blame it on the darn tropical weather ;-P
4) If you weren’t a teacher, what might your profession be?
“When I was a little girl I wanted to be a farmer’s wife…. And after a little chatting she said “Now I think I’d be the farmer myself“ – again…I’m not surprised! Recently when she came across an article which talked about people “fighting” over little patches of land on the streets of Spain she said she’d love to have some to plant some herbs and vegetables….
5) What do you find most difficult about the teaching profession, or What has been your most difficult class as a teacher?
It happened in Ceri’s first year…and her account of it resonated very close to me. I am one of those people who are glad there are teaches with different teaching styles and preferences… Her experience was with a class of 8 year olds – one lad had chronic behaviour problems – a real attention seeker – literally climbing the curtains and bringing bookshelves down on top of himself – She didn’t really know what to do with him – tried the ignore him, don’t rise to his game ploy – Many of us have been through that experience, I know I have and it’s nothing Id like to relive..
But what called my attention was that Ceri said: “I think I failed him really but at least he didn’t disrupt the rest of the class too much”…That comment took me back to one of my recent posts “Why do We Take it so Personally?“. Why do we always think it’s our fault, that we failed???
After that experience Ceri refused to teach anyone under 12 ! Luckily her school made no objections and let her specialize in teens and adults – better for us! After she mentioned that, I asked her whether she thought motherhood had changed that a bit – because I know it has sure changed it for me! – to which Ceri replied:
” I think it might do better by those kids if I tried now –
a lot more confidence as a teacher, more knowledge of their development etc as a mum”.
Then she proceeded to tell me about an experience she had last year, substituting a teacher for a class of 3-year-olds… She felt there was nothing much she could do except babysit babysitting “no teaching – the lesson plan was total double Dutch” I relate to that, as I have no talent for teaching Young Learners…
6) What was the last book/movie you read/saw, and what have you seen/read way too many times?
Aravind Adiga – Between the Assassinations – great book, but she read it months ago. She hasn’t been to the movies in years… Can I suggest someone send her a movie coupon???
7) Being an author and a teacher is…
“Great … incredibly stimulating… the two feed into each other … but juggling is exhausting too sometimes“. Then we talked about whether being in the classroom changed things, and she thinks it wouldn’t be the same for her, because being in the classroom makes it easier to know and understand students’ responses and reactions to the activities, to the lesson. And that being in the classroom made it easier to keep up with changes in teaching as well as constantly question and develop what she does.
I then asked if being an author would be the same for her if she weren’t in the classroom, and she told me ““I used to think that too – but I don’t think it’s always true – some authors who aren’t in the classroom are still incredibly aware of all the factors and write amazing material – spot on – others, despite being in classroom might not get is as “right” – depends so much on the individual writer. But passion – interest in learning – effective learning – and supporting teachers thru their materials – I think that always shows” . Hooray for passionate authors like Ceri!
These days writing is taking more of her time than teaching, but Ceri thinks a 50/50 ratio would be nice, and that they were very different skills – but she really enjoys both. Ceri has great ideas for activities – I know that not only from her blog, but because at my school we use one of her books (Inside Out) with our Advanced groups and not only the book is great but I especially like the resource book, filled with great ideas.
7) What’s your favorite place in the world?
“A beach not far from here – called Bolonia – looks out over Africa – big windy, sandy beach, superb winter sunsets”
She still had the sand and salt in her hair from being there that same afternoon – definitely a beach person! And she once saw a woman swimming with her llama there (!??!).
8) My pet peeve is…
“People who complain all the time. I love and appreciate a good rant now and then, but it’s the moaners I can’t stand”
Her answer fits both professional and personal life perfectly and I totally agree with her on it. If people just had a more positive outlook on things their lives would probably start working better. Positive thinking attracts positive energy and good things in my opinion.And the other way around is true too.
After that last question came the twist of this interview (one of my favorite things about these interviews is that each has a different twist, a different thing each interviewer does). Since Ceri loves images – especially close-ups – I decided to show her some pictures that I got from her, from #eltpics and have her tell me the first thing, word, memory that came to mind… And then I did a little video with the images and her replies…
Thanks for the interview Ceri! xx