The life-changing power of author visits to schools

Working at St. Andrew’s Primary School, in
Dundee, being a Dundonian, it means so much to me.
It’s something that, ehm, when I was growing up in this area, we were never allowed to
use the waiy we talk, in the class. This residency is focusing on the Scots language
and one of the most supportive organisations for Scots language, in the country, is Scottish
Book Trust. So that makes this residency extra special. The author bank that you have, I looked through all of them. And when I saw Matthew I knew
that he would be the one for us to pick. Having the opportunity to have an author coming
in to the school, which is something that these children wouldn’t experience without
having the project. So I just thought it was an opportunity that
we just couldn’t miss. We had a visitor called Matthew Fitt coming
in to our class and teaching us a lot about Scots. And, we’ve been translating stories
into Scots. I think it’s the look on the children’s faces.
You can tell that they’re enthusiastic and that they want to listen, and they want
to learn. I think that some of them almost don’t consider
it ‘learning’ because there enjoying themselves. People think that it’s very inappropriate
the Scots language but I think it’s really fun to learn.
[Sings] “If you gae doon tae the wids the day, ye winnae believe yer eys.”
They love listening to Matthew, he’s such a good storyteller and they want to tell him
all their stories. They can see the actual process that he goes
through to write his own stories. When you catch a little glimpse of them, you
know, in the corridors, talking about what they’ve learned, you can see that they actually
excited to have him back and do this project. Some people always, like, get stuck and everything.
But when Matthew Fitt’s around, none of them get stuck.
[Speaking to class] “I can ask anybody just about. Who have I not heard from so far?”
[child in class] “A hill” [Matthew] “A hill. A brae is a hill. Fantastic.”
It’s great to have another perspective and so when writers like myself come in and add
our own idea, I think that gies a massive boost to the teachers.
And also for pupils to see real authors. It’s really exciting.
The thing I’ve enjoyed most about the project and working with Matthew is the chance that
it’s given the children to do something new, and to do something different.
It’s made me think a bit more closely about trying different approaches to encourage children,
and using Scots, and Scots words, and Scots stories, and language, to develop their own
language skills. This is my first year of teaching. I’m an
NQT teacher. So to get somebody like Matthew coming in, actually showing me the ropes
in a certain way of how you can go about teaching writing and teaching reading, in a different
way. It’s been absolutely fantastic.
It’s a great experience for me, and a great experience for the kids.

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