I began my career teaching English — and continue to work as Head of Department — in a North Yorkshire secondary school. I began blogging about teaching English, writing and the written word a number of years ago. I’ve found it to be a great way to share ideas and deepen my own professional development.
As my blog has continued to grow in popularity, there has been a really positive impact on my profile. I led a writing workshop at NATE’s 2019 conference and I continue to contribute to publications as a freelance writer.
Increasingly, friends and colleagues have asked me to share advice or write content for their projects. I love using my aptitude for writing — and the skills I’ve learned as a blogger — to help people showcase their work and projects, which you can learn more about over at Tastes Like Fresh Copy.
Having spent over fifteen years helping young people to find their voice, I’m finally finding my own — and I’m loving it.
My favourite comfort read is Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. This undoubtedly makes me sound odd, given that it’s a book about murder and conspiracy, but I love the evocation of that particular world.
I usually have a large stack of non-fiction by my bed. I very much enjoyed Grayson Perry’s The Descent of Man — a very compelling call for change to the way we think about gender. I’m currently reading Robert MacFarlane’s The Wild Places and I’m about to read Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia. I can easily have several non-fiction books on the go at the same time and switch from one to the other, depending on my mood.
I’ve always enjoyed travel writing. I’ve recently read John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, which offers an insight into the great man in his twilight years. I’m also reading Paul Theroux’s Deep South, which is characteristically well-observed.
I enjoy twentieth-century American poetry, especially Robert Lowell, William Stafford and Hart Crane.
Watching and listening…
I enjoy listening to folk music, jazz, ambient electronica and indie, as well as guitar-based music from the 1990s. I can’t get enough of Lord Huron right now.
Give me a Wes Anderson film any day. The Royal Tenenbaums is my favourite.
Time for television is limited so I have to be selective with what I watch, although I keep a list of recommendations from people which I’ll hopefully have time to get through at some point in the future. I loved Stranger Things and as of yet, it shows no signs of jumping the shark, which is promising.
I play guitar and sing a little in York-based traditional folk trio Steam Pigeon. We play music that traces the early transatlantic influences that led to the blues, country, jazz and rock and roll.
I love hiking in the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. I enjoy camping trips to the Lake District with my family.
York has always been a great city for pubs and continues to be a beacon for craft beer. I avail myself of the opportunity to sample these beers whenever I can.
I’ve spent most of my career at Boroughbridge High School in North Yorkshire, where opportunities for professional growth have been abundant. Having begun as a teacher of English, I began leading Media Studies and then served as Acting Second in English. I spent several years as Head of KS4 English before becoming Head of Department in 2014.
I enjoy blogging and writing about teaching English, writing and the written word. I’d love to do much more of this in the next phase of my career. It was a privilege to be asked to lead a session based around my work with film and creative writing at the 2019 NATE conference. This was such a brilliant event to attend: amazingly generous people, inspirational keynote speakers and extremely useful workshops.