Congratulations to Fiona MacNab who have been nominated in Scots Teacher o the Year sponsored by Scottish Qualifications Authority in the Scots Language Awards 2020. Vote now!
We asked Fiona MacNab the following questions.
Tell us aboot yersel or yer ootfit.
I’m a dominie at Fyvie Schuil in Aiberdeenshire, maistly teachin bairns in P3-5. I love the enthusiasm the bairns that age hae fir their leid an fir teachin it tae ithers – includin me!
Whit wis it got ye involvit wi the Scots leid?
I was brought up being told to ‘speak properly’, though we did Scots poetry at primary school (annually, in January). However, I was also brought up on a diet of Scots traditional songs from the likes of Adam MacNaughton, Andy Stewart and Robin Hall & Jimmie MacGregor, which triggered a lifelong love of Scots music, culture & traditions.
I spent a decade living in Orkney where the local language and traditions are hugely valued and I loved hearing stories in Orcadian and learning about the names for local wildlife. When I started teaching (11 years ago now) it just seemed natural to value the local language and work with it.
On moving to Aberdeenshire I had to learn Doric.Luckily I had some great teachers in the form of the children (and parents/grandparents) and also attended some really useful training sessions organised by Education Scotland’s Scots Language Co-ordinators which helped build my confidence in teaching Scots. That got me involved in a project called ‘Keen Tae Ken Yer Kin’ where my class was linked with a class in Orkney and we shared information with each other, comparing words from each of our areas. The children’s enthusiasm was really infectious and each year since then we’ve built on that and done much wider Scots language work – not “just learn a poem in January”.
Ony particlar career heighlichts?
There’s been a few, with different classes. Comparing different versions of ‘The Gruffalo’ in Scots from different areas is always fun, especially when one of your pupils then teaches Sheena Blackball some Orcadian at a Doric event – that definitely stands out! We’ve recorded the Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Bairn stories in Doric for our younger bairns to listen to in school. We’ve scripted our own assemblies and performed in Doric (with some added Orcadian and Glaswegian.) One P4 class I had even translated “We’re Gaan on a Bear Hunt” into Doric by themselves and then performed it for our local playgroup, complete with actions.
Without a doubt though, the ultimate highlight was being asked to work with Matthew Fitt last year and create some artwork for his website to illustrate the song ‘The Tod’, sung by Alastair McDonald. After some debate the class decided on creating an animation telling the story of the song – which tested both their technological skills and mine to the limit. The advent of Covid-19 also challenged us as we had to fit all the recording and editing (which we’d planned to do over 3 weeks) into a week in the run-up to lockdown to make sure we got it finished. Incredibly we managed to do it in only 4 days, thanks to the absolute commitment of the bairns to get it done, though if you look closely at the animation you’ll see the poor wee “Coronavirus foxclub” – his leg and tail were cut off when we were rushing and we just didn’t have time to make another cub to replace him. Getting such great feedback about our animation from Matthew Fitt and Alistair McDonald on the last day the schools were open was really exciting for the bairns – and for me!
(Our video is here if you want a look: http://www.scotsinschools.co.uk/sing.html )
Wha’s yer plans fir the days aheid?
Carry on valuing the local language and culture by studying it with the bairns each year. Amongst other things I’m hoping to explore some farming vocabulary with my class this year, as well as learning about local names for the wildlife in our area.
The Scots Language Awards 2020 will be online at www.scotslanguageawards.com. We will have a mixture of events on the 23rd / 24th October. Performing at the Award on Saturday 24th September will be Gerda Stevenson, Gary Robertson, Shona Donaldson and Jim Malcolm.
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