The Teaching Realm: An interview with Maaria Khan #23

The Reading Realm Blog Series: Educators doing extraordinary things

“I’ve always known I wanted to work in education, even from a young age when I played ‘teachers’ with my sisters…”

Name: Maaria Khan

Twitter handle: @MissKhan__

What is your current position?

Class Teacher (Y4) and SLT.

When, how and why did you get into education? What did/do you want to achieve?

I’ve always known I wanted to work in education, even from a young age when I played teachers with my sisters. I did A-Levels in random subjects because I didn’t want to commit to education related things and then my degree was open ended really too. I did a BA in Education, Psychology and Counselling and during that I knew I wanted to teach, so I did the PGCE. This is my 5th year of teaching. I got into education because I think kids are brilliant and they will change the world, having the chance to be a part of that is something I’m very fortunate to be able to do. I think it’s an extremely rewarding job: there is no such thing as a boring day, kids are absolutely fantastic and the holidays are a nice bonus too! Ultimately, I’d like to be a head teacher of my own school, in a similar area to one I grew up in (disadvantaged and lots of need, but we were never made to think we were different or we couldn’t do anything the other kids at other schools did) – to be anything like the head teacher I had at primary and then at the start of my secondary education would be amazing.

How do you feel the education landscape has changed since you started in your role?

I think I started at a great time: the new curriculum had just come in, the face of maths teaching was changing, lots of teachers my age were ‘around’ and talking about teaching, so I’ve gone through my career with the changes. I haven’t found some things as difficult as more experienced teachers did. I think the idea behind wellbeing is becoming more apparent and schools are struggling to retain staff, workload is a factor that matches up to that. The expectations some schools have is absolutely ridiculous and they should be ashamed to be perfectly honest that they are asking so much of their staff.

What are your earliest memories of reading and writing?

I was always reading and writing, through school and at home. I had books, pens and paper whenever I wanted. I remember sharing a room with my sister that has bunk beds and reading out loud, whilst mum did the ironing- then not wanting to put the book away once lights were out. I remember that my first ‘negative consequence’ at school was during a reading session! I was in Y6 and we had a merit book: you used to get positive merits and then for consequences blue writing was a warning and red writing meant you were in trouble. It was a silent reading task and I wasn’t being very silent, so I got my first ever red writing! I was so upset! Other than that, I remember always writing stories and sharing them all the time.

How do you try and foster a love of reading in children?

I buy books for my classroom, I know they’ll be new, relevant and interest the children. I talk about books, I read books in front of them, I model expression when reading, I stop at cliff-hangers to keep them wanting more. I don’t discourage changing books if they aren’t enjoying it. Talking and loving books myself feeds into my teaching.

What has been your most successful reading or writing lesson or activity with children?

We created an Egyptian Tomb in the classroom, completely immersive. Children arrived on a Monday morning and they weren’t allowed in until they took on the role of an archaeologist exploring a new tomb for the first time. It was amazing to see them in role. They wrote diary entries after that. I’ve also ‘staged a break in’ during a Vikings topic. Throughout the week, everyday something new happened in the classroom (something was destroyed). Then on the Friday, these dragon eggs appeared and we wrote newspaper reports about the events! For reading, we did Holes in Y5 and those reading sessions were brilliant. I’m really enjoying the work we’re doing with Varjak Paw currently in Y4 (see twitter feed for more!)

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What advice would you give to parents whose children say they don’t like reading?

That it’s okay if they don’t….yet but maybe they haven’t found the right book. I’d give some suggestions. I’d also say things like magazines, comics, news reports also count as reading, so if they are doing that, then they do enjoy reading!

What books do you remember from your childhood? Do you have a favourite?

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Helen Oxenbury recently won the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award. Find out more here!

I liked We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen from a very young age and then getting older I was into the Harry Potter and Jaqueline Wilson books a LOT.

What was the first book that made you cry?

Ooooo…interesting one! I’m not sure I remember the first but ones that did at that age were: Matilda, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and the Noughts and Crosses series. I probably cried at loads!

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Have you ever experienced reader’s block?

Yes! Recently actually with the book, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I started it because everyone was raving about it but didn’t really get into it, but I did go back to it and finished it, it wasn’t bad!

Are you drawn to a particular genre or type of book or do you read a variety of genres?

A variety really. I like children’s novels, adventure stories, stories that tackle big issues.

What book are you currently reading?

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Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Where’s your favourite place to read?

At school: reading corner or my comfy chair, lights dimmed, fire on IWB.

At home: in bed

Which three books would you recommend to primary school aged children and why?

  • Varjak Paw by SF Said
  • The House with the Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson
  • The Iron Man by Ted Hughes

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Finally: what does reading for pleasure mean to you?

Reading for pleasure is exactly what it says: reading for your own enjoyment, whatever that is, as long as you are enjoying it then go wild! For me, it’s being transported to a new place and living new adventures, getting attached to characters that are on exciting journeys and going on a rollercoaster of emotion as you read. It’s the best!

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