Personally speaking - 'I told boy, go to uni or I'll cry for ever'

21st May 2010 at 01:00
Julie Miller, 72, teaches English as an additional language at Bristol Metropolitan Academy. She has taught more than 230 foreign students from 33 language backgrounds to read English since 2003

Who has been your biggest influence?

The Dalai Lama and Mahatma Gandhi were the heroes in our family. I was born into war and rationing. They showed the world that we can resolve our differences without killing each other.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

I taught a Somali boy who had seen both his parents hanged outside his school. He thought his mother was still alive because he saw her feet move. The full horror of that statement will live with me for ever.

Which pupil are you most proud of?

Muhammad Muhammad. He also fled the troubles in Somalia and arrived with me two years ago, terrified and unable to speak a word of English. He is now in Year 10 and all the teachers rave about him. I told him if he doesn't go to university I will cry for 100 years.

What is the best advice you have been given?

Keep things simple and be patient. If a child isn't ready to learn, wait until they are.

Describe the most outrageous thing a colleague has done

My colleagues look quite sane compared with me.

What would you be if you weren't a teacher?

A Post Office sorter. I have to be organised to do my job. If exactly the right resource isn't to hand, you lose the child.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

I sit in my "thinking chair" in the kitchen and read.

What car do you drive?

A green one.

Where did you last go on holiday - and why?

Last year my husband and I went on a river cruise up the Rhone, because we like to see new places but my husband isn't very mobile. The boat broke down, it was very hot and I got ever so slightly tetchy.

What was the last book you read?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

Are you tech savvy or a luddite?

I don't have a computer. I wouldn't even know how to turn one on. My schemes of work are still around when all the computers go down.

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