Leila Rasarathnam reveals how she calls on her experience from before she became a teacher to engage her students and create inspiring resources.
Tell us about your professional background and what you enjoy the most about teaching?
After completing my degree in communication design, I worked as a Keyworker in the NHS with adults, children with learning difficulties and mental health issues. I also worked as a freelance graphic designer, coached basketball and worked with homeless teenagers in Manchester.
I became a teacher in 2009. The first half of my career was spent in a mainstream setting in Hemel Hempstead where I taught KS3 to A-level in all D&T specialisms. I currently work in a PRU as a HoD. We have a variety of students with SEN. The smaller setting and behaviours make it exciting and challenging. This job combines my training and my previous experience in the NHS and with homelessness.
The thing I most enjoy about my job is inspiring young people who have been uninspired by education. Recently a former student came to tell me she got into University to study graphic design. This student had been a school refuser prior to coming to us and missed a large amount of her education. Although a high percentage of my students from mainstream would go on to study graphics, this was one of my greater achievements.
How do you incorporate your graphic design skills into your resources?
I’m passionate about creating resources, and as a teacher of D&T it’s important for me to keep up to date with new and emerging technologies. I use the Adobe Creative Suite to produce my resources, this way I can produce my own illustrations which is something I have always really enjoyed. It also means that when they’re downloaded, they can be blown up and printed in any size without any distortion or pixelation.
What resource are you most proud of and how do you use it in the classroom?
I have a few resources that I’m really proud of, however, the one that I’m most proud of is my British Values poster. An LSA came to me with a list of words that staff and students came up with relating to Britain. I used the words to create the Union Jack. I use this in my lessons to promote diversity, also, when I teach design it’s very useful to refer to the different fonts I’ve used within the image.
What are your top tips for creating classroom resources?
1. Be creative, colour is a good way of getting your students engaged...
2. Not all ideas are new ones, think of ways to develop and improve old concepts.
3. If you make a resource well, you won’t have to make it again.
4. If you struggle with spelling, grammar and punctuation, always ask someone to check over it!
I intend to produce resources that save others time and help enable teachers in all subject areas to be creative in the classroom, feel free to look at my page and tell me what you think!