Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

What's in Your Bag?: Feature

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

What's in Your Bag?: Feature

Article excerpt

Puppets, snail shells, books about farts: school life requires some unusual possessions. Helen Ward persuaded teachers around the world to reveal the contents of their carriers.

Jeremy Dean: teaches English to six- and seven-year-olds in Spain

My mobile phone has a superb built-in English-Spanish dictionary, so when Pedro pelts across the playground screaming "Cabron!" (bastard) at Miguel, I can haul him in. This is one of the milder swear words that my dictionary can cope with. El Pais, the newspaper, is my homework - the Sunday edition lasts me all week. "Dave" the puppet always gets children talking. Even the shyest student can't resist telling him off when he picks his nose. The hat and sunglasses are for playground duty. Delightfully, Spaniards call highlighter pens fosfis (foss-fees). Now, so do I.

Maja Lebar Bajec: teaches English to 14- to 18-year-olds in Ljubljana, Slovenia

I have the best backpack on Earth: I use it for hiking, snowboarding, shopping and school. In the main compartment I keep a notebook for lesson plans, textbooks, exercise books, three packs of tests, a pocket grade book, sunglasses, two wallets (I have no idea why), my smartphone and a pencil case. The case contains about 15 pencils and pens, an eraser, a pencil sharpener, two USB sticks, some paperclips and a random key. In the back, it appears that I carry with me at all times a tool for adjusting the bindings on my snowboard.

Jinky Dabon: teaches maths to eight- to 11-year-olds in Thailand

This is my working bag. I use it all the time, come rain or shine. I love its colour and style, plus it is great for the weather we have over here and it is easy to clean. Pouches help me to organise the rubbish I carry every day. They are easy to grab in case I have to change my bag to go with what I am wearing. From left to right are my Chinese fan (it's hot and humid here, so the fan comes in handy all the time), first aid pouch, spoon and fork, purse, glasses, mobile phone, digital camera, all my ID cards and my coin purse.

Rachael Harris: teaches English to nine- to 15-year-olds at a French- speaking school in Geneva, Switzerland

Teaching a foreign language means that anything and everything is an opportunity to learn. That's why my bag is a pretty strange mix of objects: blue and green magnets to put up flash cards, dice for revision games, vocabulary cards and a pink speaker to use with my iPad. The green box contains "fast finisher" extension work, and the fantastic book Why Do Farts Smell Like Rotten Eggs? grabs more advanced students' attention. The star hole punch is for marking, and under the duck finger puppet, which livens up dialogues a treat, is my little "bible" of five-minute fillers.

Jim Noble: curriculum leader for secondary maths at the International School of Toulouse, France

If I had to guess what was different about the things in my bag, it might be my scrapbook and ideas books. I keep hundreds of digital photos and screenshots of classes, projects, work and so on. My students use them to make scrapbooks as reminders of what we do and why. I keep one, too, and love it. There are many ways to do this electronically, but the art of scrapbooking is still best as a physical experience. Having something that can be picked up is more powerful, in my view. I also find that students take more pride in tangible things than online things.

Alexis Perkins: teaches 10- and 11-year-olds in Scotland

I was quite surprised at the variety of items in my bag as I hadn't been to the bottom of it in quite a while, hence the out-of-date Wagon Wheel - I always have an emergency sugary item on me. …

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