Personally speaking - 'Being bitten on the head was not good'

17th September 2010 at 01:00

Who has been your biggest influence?

My different working roles influence each other. I spend part of my time teaching students with multi-sensory impairments (MSI), who have hearing and visual impairments and usually other complex needs. I spend the rest working for the special educational needs and disability tribunal, as a freelance, and as an honorary lecturer at Birmingham University's school of education. Ideas from one role often sparks off thoughts about others.

What has been your career high so far?

Completing my PhD. It took eight years, mainly because my children were born in the same time slot.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

Being bitten on the head in my first year of teaching wasn't good - there is not much spare flesh on your skull. But the worst moments have been when pupils have been very ill: many students with MSI have serious medical conditions.

Which pupil are you most proud of?

All those who have learnt, despite the odds, to trust other people and be curious about the world. If you can't see or hear well, then everything is potentially threatening; it is easier to withdraw or resist it all.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Watch the students; learn from them. MSI is a very complex disability and you can't make assumptions about what or how students will learn.

What would you be if you hadn't become a teacher?

I have always admired the lifestyle of cats, but I guess that was never a career option.

What car do you drive?

A scruffy Fiat Punto.

Where did you last go on holiday - and why?

Iceland. Maybe not the best year to choose ...

What was the last book you read?

The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. Old ideas and new research together.

Are you tech savvy or a Luddite?

I have moments when I think I have got technology sussed and hours when I know I haven't.

Heather Murdoch has worked as a teacher and lecturer for 25 years. She now teaches in the multi-sensory impairment unit at Victoria School in Birmingham.

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