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Teacher Spotlight - Anna Leaman, Head of English

Anna Leaman, Head of English, is our teacher in the spotlight this month. 

 

Anna has a love for literature and is able to ‘think like a student’ to bring lessons to life. She describes her teaching style as structured, collaborative and fast-paced.

What positions, and for how many years, have you had at the school?

I have spent four years at BSKL as Head of English.

Tell us a bit more about your background teaching experience?

Before coming to BSKL I taught in Manchester for 4 years at an inner city comprehensive school where I taught English, was the Literacy Coordinator and Head of EAL. I did my teacher training via the GTP (employment based training) at two schools in Leicester, one of which was the school that I went to myself as a teenager.

What is your main area of interest/specialism?

Literature, particularly looking at social and historical context and considering how these factors influence the way texts are written and understood by different readers.

How does BSKL differ from other international schools?

I’ve never worked in any others so I don’t know!

What has been your biggest career success so far?

Working with the rest of my department to create a strong sense of ‘team’ within English. The supportive ethos among the department helps us all to be successful in the classrooms and creates a real sense of enjoyment in what we do.

Describe your teaching style in three words

Structured, collaborative, fast-paced

What do you love most about teaching English?

Teaching a range of texts from many different time periods in which the messages are still as relevant and meaningful today as they were at the time of writing. My absolute favourite at the moment is teaching Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and comparing it to Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’ at A Level.

What strengths/skills helped you get to where you are today?

The ability to ‘think like a student’ when planning lessons; the desire to always do the ‘best’ job I can and the ability to reflect and make improvements when things don’t go to plan.

Which of your childhood teachers stood out and why?

Mrs Baker my Year 1 teacher. She was a more stylish version of Miss Honey from Matilda: very warm and encouraging and wore very cool (for the 90s) jumper-trouser combinations.

What is the most memorable lesson you have taught?

Probably a literature revision lesson Ms Tighe and I delivered a couple of years ago in which we were preparing our Year 11s for their iGCSE exams the following week. To hook students’ interest we thought of songs linked to each character from Of Mice and Men and students had to identify the link between songs and characters whilst finding quotes which also linked to this aspect of each character’s personality. It was a lot of noisy fun but helped their revision of characters.

What is most rewarding about your job?

Watching students make progress. Getting something that they didn’t get before and then being able to explain this to other students who don’t get it.

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be doing?

I was a carer in the mentally frail unit of a nursing home when I was at university and it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had so possibly something linked to that. Although I realised at the time that I was too squeamish to follow a career in nursing!

What are your favourite hobbies/activities outside of school?

Reading, writing creatively, walking in the park and trying my hand at crafting (often unsuccessfully).