Ask the Trainer – Lesley White
Lesley has been our Director of Training for many years. She has a huge amount of experience both as a Letterland trainer and as an Early Years educator and has been running phonics training sessions in the UK and overseas since 1992. Working closely with Lyn Wendon, the Originator of Letterland, she has developed and implemented many types of training courses. She is a much loved member of the Letterland family, so we thought we'd ask her a few questions!
1. What motivates you to train teachers?
I actually love my job! When I first started sharing my love and appreciation of Letterland, it was with some trepidation as I was unsure I could answer all the questions that teachers asked but now, after more years than I care to remember, I get a thrill being able to help and offer advice and suggestions to teachers about alternative ideas to help motivate the children in their care. The idea that what I share with teachers is going to help young learners start to find joy in books (reading and writing) inspires me to want to help more and more teachers.
2. Which Letterland character or story do you most enjoy and why?
I’m a huge Harry Hat Man fan not just because he can be heard speaking with a Scottish accent on Living ABC (and I was born and bred in Scotland!) but because I love his interaction with all the other characters. I love the way he hops through Letterland helping explain his change in shape at the start of his name as well as various changes in sounds when he meets up with other consonants to form digraphs like ‘ch’ and ‘wh’.
3. What drew you to early years English literacy and why?
Originally, while working with pre-school children, we wanted some way to motivate our young learners and Letterland seemed like the answer to our search. Our theory was always that children learn most when they are playing. The fun, playful, multi-sensory learning material that Letterland offered was just what we were looking for and I’ve never looked back nor have I ever found any other programme that I find as inspirational.
4. What is the most important thing to consider when training teachers?
Every teacher is different and so, I find, that it is very important not to just think of those teachers attending a training session as an audience or ‘just another customer’. Each one has to be considered as important as the next, whether they are new to teaching and to Letterland or very experienced. No training should ever be the same as the last although the message that is being shared is obviously the same. So, for me, individual needs and providing the support that each teacher needs is most important.
5. How do you think technology has changed the present or future of education?
Technology provides extra visual and audio support and will continue to do so but for the youngest learners it is just that, an extra support. The importance of understanding that print, whether seen on a screen or as one turns the pages of a book, remains exactly the same. Technology is a bonus which we all have to appreciate but communication skills, speaking and listening, are to me far more important for our youngest learners. Technology is a very useful tool to help teachers but, from a child’s point of view, only really begins to be of importance once they have developed the basic skills that Letterland helps them experience in so many multi-sensory and fun ways.
If you'd like to hear more from the Letterland family, check out our interview with author, Lisa Holt.