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Jo Bickerstaff

Co-author of the Macmillan Essential English for QCE series.

How long have you been in the education industry?
Only this millennium! I started teaching in 2000 and have been fortunate to have a job that I love more with each year. I’m not a Pollyanna – there are definitely things I’d change but I get to spend my days hanging out with kids and talking about books and words and ideas!

How have you noticed your teaching style change over the years? Why do you think this is?
I hope my teaching style has changed, my sincerest apologies to all the students I taught in my first years of teaching. The thousands of students who have crossed my path have taught me how to be a better teacher – the best feedback you can get is from a students. It took me longer than I would care to admit that having high expectations of all students’ matters as much as the strategies you use. My colleagues have also inspired me through sharing their practice.

What is the importance to you of good educational resources?
I have opinions about the value of good educational resources for equity in an unequal society. This is why I was thrilled to work on the Essential English textbooks – these students deserve relevant and engaging resources that support them in demonstrating and improving their literacy.

What has been your favourite part of writing an educational resource?

Collaborating with Tony Hytch. Teaching is a team sport. 

What is your favourite part of being a teacher?

You get excellent stories for dinner parties, kids are fascinating; sometimes they do interesting things, sometimes they do weird things - but most often they do amazing things!

What are three things people wouldn’t know about you?
Nothing. I’m a terrible over-sharer. I’m yet to have a thought I haven’t expressed.

What do you like to do when you’re not teaching (or writing?)
Swim. Read. Listen to music. Cook. Eat.

Who are three people, living or dead, you’d love to have dinner with?

Just three? You’ll need to narrow the scope of that question… do I have a Babel fish?
George Orwell, Nina Simone and Robyn Davidson. Fierce minds; free spirits.

What is your favourite book and why?
One favourite? 'Charlotte’s Web' by E.B. White because Charlotte used her words to save Wilbur and taught me the power of language. 

Do you follow a sports team?
Apparently. The Highlanders. New Zealand Super Rugby. They’re from Dunedin.