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Give and take

My parents and grandparents were teachers. My brother and I grew up surrounded by books.

I started tutoring during my university holidays. I studied English at Cambridge and enjoyed passing on the close analysis and wider reading skills I was acquiring to GCSE and A-level English students who needed extra support.

After graduating, I moved to the US to study and work as a theatre director, which I combined with teaching theatre.

Since returning to London, I have started to tutor more regularly again – now from age 6 up to 75 (I also teach playwriting to graduate students at Regents University). I enjoy the multicultural nature of my tutees in London who are often from two cultures. It makes for interesting conversation about other worlds and great source material for creative writing!

As part of teaching English, I particularly enjoy working with students on their creative writing and storytelling skills. I have been developing my own writing over the last year, writing a libretto under commission for the London Sinfonietta and a screenplay for my first short film. Most recently, I received Arts Council funding to co-write/create a one-person play with my husband which is inspired by aspects of his childhood.

It sounds like a cliche but I’ve found it inspiring to see how the children I teach naturally have access to their creativity and imagination. They tend to trust their storytelling instincts without agonising over every word! I enjoy giving them writing tools to help structure and expand on their ideas, but I mostly enjoy seeing what they come up with, for instance, a 6 year old student recently wrote about her brother taking a roller coaster to the moon where he met an alien called Bing Bong! Reading for comprehension and exam skills is a technique which I also enjoy tackling with students, especially when it inspires them to read more widely, which inevitably influences their writing as well…A cycle I am reminded to regularly complete myself!

Anna Jones

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