Thursday, 9 June 2011

As part of Brad's PLN Interview challenge, I interviewed Michelle Worgan. Michelle and I have known eachother for more than 10 years (I think), we knew eachother before blogging and Twitter, in the days of summer school and cassette recorders. 

Here are the five standard questions with two more thrown in for good measure!

Many thanks to Michelle for agreeing to do the interview.

1) If your students were to label you with 3 adjectives, what might they be?

Hmm I think I might ask my students this afternoon...I forgot so I'll have to make them up myself. I think each age group would describe me in a different way, so I'll give you one from each. I think the adults would describe me as HONEST. I am completely myself in the classroom and for that reason I always tell the truth (if it's negative I try to find a postitive way of expressing it though). The teenagers would say I was SERIOUS as I make them work hard and don't let them play enough games! And the younger ones would probably only come up with "nice" but I'll go one further on their behalf and say WARM. It is of course likely that they would all say something completely different! I want to say HARD-WORKING but students never think about the work or preparation you put in!
2) What would we find in your refrigerator right now?

There is always cheese in my fridge - a big block of medium-strength cheese, some Philadelphia or Laughing Cow triangles (I love the stuff), Feta. There is an open carton of UHT cream for making sauces to go with pasta. Salad, pitta bread, milk (nasty UHT stuff but it's ok in tea!), water, Aquarius (because I go running and need to replace liquids), some chicken, ham, smoked salmon, broccoli... there is also fruit but it's mostly eaten by my other half!

3) If you weren’t a teacher, what might your profession be?

Difficult question. I've been teaching since I left university (too long ago to mention) but if I didn't have to make a living from it, I'd like to be a writer. Realistically though, I'd probably end up doing translation work and absolutely hating it! I'd like to carry on working with children.

4) What do you find most difficult about the teaching profession, or What has been your most difficult class as a teacher?

For me the hardest part is successfully convincing learners that they need to use English or study outside the classroom. Our contact time is not enough and we don't have time to do much recycling, which is why it is so important that they try to find a few minutes each day to recap. I don't often set homework, but it seems that my students, even adults, won't do anything unless it has been specifically set :(
I have had many difficult classes over the years - my first year teaching children was a nightmare! It was only a small group but their ages ranged between six (non-readers) and nine, there were a couple of naughty boys in there too - mixed age, mixed ability - it was impossible to get them all sitting in their seats doing what they were supposed to. I would still find that class a handful now, but I would be much better prepared! Now I love kids' classes!

5) What was the last book/movie you read/saw, and what have you seen/read way too many times?

I'm currently reading Emile Zola's Germinale in French! I had a Kindle for Christmas and I haven't stopped reading since. I've probably read about 25 books in the last 5 months! I haven't seen any decent films for ages. The last film I enjoyed was The King's Speech. I've seen the film Hi-Fidelity quite a few times, as well as my boyfriend's favourite: Ocean's Eleven! Oh and, Dirty Dancing, of course...

Our connection is that we met at summer school years ago before we started blogging. Could you tell us what you think are the best and worst things about working at a summer school?

Good question! The best thing is that it can be so much fun! The sense of community and friendship you get from working with a team of people in such a short space of time. The fact that you are not only a teacher but can have fun with the kids by leading activities and excursions - it's one situation where the students actually see you as a human being! The worst thing is not being supported enough - so many demands are placed on the summer school team and you are not always in a position to be able to provide what has been promised. There is often a lack of co-ordination between the management, the sales team and the people who are actually running the course, who are the ones that have the difficult task of making sure everything runs smoothly. Note: I "retired" from the summer school scene two summers ago!

I know that you're a mad football fan. How did you get into football in the first place?

Well I wouldn't say I was a mad football fan! But I've always liked watching football really. At home we would watch the World Cup and that was about it, but I've always tried to follow Stoke City's progress. When they got promoted to the Premier League, I could then watch the matches on the internet! And two years ago I decided to become a season ticket holder of my local club, Xerez CD.

Thank you Michelle and Brad! 


  1. Hi Leahn, hi Michelle !

    So cool to learn about you Michelle. I've heard your name often on blogs, twitter etc, though I don't know that we've actaully ever exchanged many tweets.

    "Germinale", huh ? Moi aussi, je l'ai lu en français, mais ça fait long, longtemps ! :)

    Thank you both for taking the time 2 share a bit with all of us. Cheers, b

  2. Thanks Leahn for sharing a bit of me!

    Hey Brad, you had a really nice idea in setting up this challenge - it's good to know a bit more about people we follow on Twitter or whose blogs we read.

    Germinale is a bit hard-going in French what with all the mining vocabulary, but I've nearly finished it! It's been years since I've touched French too, but it seems to be all coming back to me - it's amazing how the brain stores stuff!

  3. Hi Brad and Michelle,

    Thanks for the idea Brad and thanks for agreeing to be my VICTIM Michelle.

    I'm going to sign up for French after I've mastered German. It may take a while.

    Thanks Guys,


  4. Oh good lord... french after German... might be awhile :) I've heard GERMAN is tough !

    BTW, did you know that majestic and magnificent and master all come from the same language root of "mag" (4500 year old Indo-European)... coolest part is it's the same word in Hindi as "mahatma" or great one !

    Nice getting to know you through these interviews, Leahn. Cheers, b