Becky Humphrey-Bullen, one half of author team LittleStreams, talks to us about her background in education, why she started publishing resources on TES and how to make a successful author partnership work.
Tell us a little about your journey into education.
I started as an unqualified teacher cover supervising in London, then I ended up taking over a maths class, which led to my love of the subject. However, I had started tutoring and also fell in love with that. I decided that I enjoyed one-to-one tutoring and small group support more than whole class teaching.
What instigated the launch of LittleStreams?
My main area of interest is older children who find maths hard. While teaching, I got very frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t find any resources that were age-appropriate, because anything to do with fractions was overly decorated with "cute" clip art.
My best friend (Sam Lovegrove) and I ran a magazine while at university and we both shared an interest in design. So when I approached him with my ideas, he offered to polish the visuals. We started making a few worksheets; I would tell him that I wanted fireworks, for example, and he would manage to draw illustrations that weren't "kiddie" and immature, but were still engaging. We both believe that just because someone finds maths difficult, doesn’t mean they should be insulted with childish pictures. I do think there is a place for those types of resources, but older children don’t necessarily want this, and that’s not our market.
How do you engage with the teaching community and how does this influence the resources you sell?
I am very active as a primary school governor. I'm also a link governor, which means I have contacts in other neighbouring schools. We give our resources to some of these schools to try, then we collect and act upon their feedback. I think it is important to know what is going on in schools and as my background is mainly in secondary, I felt that it was crucial to attach myself to a primary school. I'm also inspired by my tutoring sessions.
I belong to a few Facebook groups, where I find it interesting to read what others contribute. We also have our own Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest page for LittleStreams, which we personally manage.
LittleStreams is a partnership. How has this benefitted you?
It takes the pressure off – a lot, because there are two of us. You have to really trust the person you are in partnership with. Sam and I have the same ethos when it comes to education; I know we are on exactly the same page. However, we are also different in what we can do. He’s a whizz at design, so when I make things, he will tidy them up. Similarly, he can come up with educational ideas, but he is not a mathematician, and university teaching is very different from secondary teaching. It’s useful to have clearly defined roles, though also equally important to be able and open to work in each other’s roles.
What do you think is the most challenging and rewarding aspect of being an author?
The biggest challenge will be the days you lack inspiration and you’re not sure if what you’ve made will work; taking what is in your head and making something out of it is a real challenge. It will require a lot of planning, but the biggest reward for me is seeing what you’ve made in use and actually making a difference. When people buy your resources and leave feedback that says how much it’s helped in their classroom, it reminds you of just how much you are helping teachers, and supporting students in their comprehension.
LittleStreams' TES Shop
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