Teacher audit

February 11, 2005

Name : Melanie Hani

Age : 31

Job : Programme leader for animation and design, Sunderland University.

Salary : Disproportionate to the spread of global wealth.

Qualifications : BA (Hons) in design communication and animation; MA in animation; postgraduate certificate in education and training.

Practical experience : I was prompted to begin my research into using animation as a teaching tool while teaching literacy to people with a history of offending, substance abuse and emotional and physical traumas. I found the traditional literacy approach didn't work and felt I needed to find an attractive learning technique suitable for such people.

In creating an animation, the learner covers many skills and learning outcomes detailed in the national curriculum. Most projects involve both team and independent work, encouraging learners to speak fluently, clearly and appropriately, using visual aids to explain their ideas and to enhance communication. It encourages them to think visually, systematically and laterally.

My research involves using animation to work with people with autism and dyslexia, for example. One pupil with severe autism was unable to touch objects because of sensitive nerve endings. He refused to speak. By the end of the project, he was communicating effectively, was a strong team player and was modelling his own characters out of clay.

I was recently funded by Wrexham Council and the Science Board to work with children who need psychiatric assistance. In the past, they had a great deal of support from social services and families, but to little benefit.

The animation project allowed them to show the world they could produce something of value. I am continuing my research and hope to prove that animation is an effective therapy and learning process.

Hours spent teaching : 12 hours a week.

Hours on red tape : 30 minutes a week.

Hours on research : I watch at least four episodes of Coronation Street a week, purely to analyse editing techniques, and go to the cinema twice a week for contextual studies.

Teaching bugbear this past year : Students are getting younger.

How did/would you solve it? I'll be 30 again next year.

Best or funniest moment in teaching? The best time in my teaching career was when I was drinking coffee with a student. She amazed me by reading the words on her coffee mug. This and the time when I saw her smile, when she showed her animation to an audience. Nothing can beat such small but hugely significant successes.

My teaching tip? Keep your lessons interactive, quirky and different. Aim to show students how to enjoy the subject by conveying your own enjoyment of the subject. A smile spreads.

Outside interests : Is there time for anything outside work?

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