Kate was born and grew up in North Wales in a small village, she attended the local Primary and Secondary schools and learned to speak Welsh as a Second Language. Kate decided to remain in Wales to study History at a University in Aberystwyth. She thought she would live in Wales for her entire life but in her early twenties, she started travelling and realised she would like to see more of the world. Now Kate lives in Al Ain in Abu Dhabi, which has become her home away from home.
Kate Jones was nominated as a Middle East Education Influencer at the Middle East School Leadership Conference 2018 ( #MESLC ) and for very good reasons, she is an education blogger, speaker and a keen advocate for the use of social media for continuing professional development. She has now added author to her growing list of accolades, with the publication of her first book with John Catt Edu.
This book is very aptly named after her popular blog (https://lovetoteach87.com), Love To Teach: Research and Resources for every classroom. This is an exciting book that combines the latest educational research with examples of what this can look like in the classroom. Filled with research-informed ideas to support all teachers and leaders in both Primary and Secondary schools, this book is a must-read for all educators. In this feature, we talk with Kate about her book, her blog and her work as an educator who truly loves to teach.
Why did you become an educator?
I wanted a career that had a link and connection to History, as I had thoroughly enjoyed studying history in school and University. I had also gained some experience working with schools, I really enjoyed this experience. It seemed a natural decision to combine my love for the subject and my enthusiasm for working with young people in a school environment.
What or who inspires you most?
My family, especially my parents. They inspire me with the qualities they possess – always kind, generous and caring. I try to show those qualities in everything I do. The pupils I work with have inspired me to find out more about education and to create original resources that I use in my classroom and then share with other teachers around the world for them to use with their learners too – seeing a teacher in a different school or country using one of my resources inspires me to keep sharing and inspired me to write an educational book!
Why did you start blogging and being involved in Edu twitter?
Back in Wales in 2015 my Deputy Headteacher at the time, Paul Williams, encouraged all of the staff at my school to use Twitter for professional development. I was very sceptical at first but then quickly embraced this huge and wonderful global network of educators. It was through Twitter that I discovered teachers were blogging about education – I had no idea there were educational blogs online and so many of such high quality! I haven’t blogged as much in 2018 but now that my book is published I will have more time to focus on my website www.lovetoteach87.com.
What inspired you to write a book?
I was approached in 2015 about writing a book but I said no as I didn’t have the confidence to do so, I also felt I didn’t have the time at that point which was also a very important factor. Through continued blogging and sharing, I started to grow in confidence and realised that writing a book would not only be a great learning experience but it could help other educators. Twitter can be quite limiting with the character count of a Tweet and blogs can be quite informal and shouldn’t be too long. A book gives the writer an opportunity to really explore and discuss resources, ideas and research in greater depth and detail.
What do you hope that educators will gain from reading your book?
I hope educators will be able to implement the practical ideas and resources in their classroom – whether they download them directly to use or tweak and adapt to suit the needs of their learners. I also know many teachers that have told me they struggle to engage in educational research and academic reading – either with lack of time due to a busy schedule or unsure where to begin. I have included and discussed educational research that has transformed my teaching practice, I hope this will do the same for my readers. I also tackle some educational myths such as learning styles and the learning pyramid – hopefully, we can turn our backs on these myths that claim to be rooted in educational research but aren’t.
How did you manage to write a book as a full-time educator? What strategies did you employ?
This was very tough and I went through periods of writing a lot, this would mainly be during the holidays where it was quite intense. I also went through periods of doing no or very little writing as I was busy marking examination papers, preparing for inspection or writing reports. In total, I managed to write my book in a year, but I had been carrying out the reading, research and preparation for eight years, so it was mainly bringing all of that information together. Colleagues and friends helped by proofreading chapters to provide feedback.
What advice do you have for educators who are reluctant to get involved in online learning especially Edu twitter
Simply give it a try! If it isn’t for you that’s fine but it could their transform teaching practice. There are educational authors who have joined Twitter, started blogging which has led to writing for educational magazines like Teach Middle East magazine then securing a book deal. This is the experience I and others have had but many more people simply use Twitter for daily inspiration, ideas, advice and it is great for international educators to keep up to date with the latest developments in the UK and their various home countries.
What is one of your proudest achievements to date?
Writing my book has been a wonderful achievement and I am happier with my book than I ever imagined I would be! At the time of responding to the questions for this article, I am in Hong Kong presenting at the Asia-Pacific International Schools Conference. Working with educators globally is another great achievement. Back in the UK, I achieved the Lead Practitioner accreditation and that is an achievement that all Lead Practitioners should be very proud of as it involves a lot of work and dedication to developing an aspect of school improvement.
What are three fun activities that you do to relax and take your mind off work?
I love to travel. When I’m in the UAE I love brunches and beaches. When I’m in Wales I love spending time with my friends and family. Now that I am older I can fully embrace being a book worm. I read all the time from educational books, John Grisham thrillers, travel books. At the moment I am enjoying reading books by the author Matt Haig.
Kate Jones is head of History atThe British School Al Khubairat (BSAK) Love To Teach: Research and Resources for every classroom is available to purchase now on Amazon. You can follow Kate on Twitter @87history.
By: Leisa Grace Wilson