Rich Simpson is a Year 6 teacher, Literacy Lead, from the Isle of Wight in the UK. He blogs about books and kindness and started the hashtag #kindnessripple on Twitter. After talking with Rich about his growing up in Northern Ireland and learning a little about his story, I was excited to learn more. Enjoy!
Growing up in Northern Ireland I was part of a single-parent family, living with my younger brother and sister, and mum. My dad left when we were young (I was 6 or 7) and we rarely saw him again after that – I had no relationship with him at all. I saw him once again when I was 13 and we went to visit him in Hong Kong. he died a couple of years later. I have since discovered that I have a half-brother called Fred from his next relationship, and we have connected – I met him for the first two years ago when he came to visit and we are in contact – he lives in the U.S.!
We were a foster family, so we had a large number of children living with us as I grew up in placements of varying lengths, and I always wanted to do something related to working with children as a job (though after I had fulfilled my ambition of being in the army as all my relatives had done!).
What it was like as a student
Life was tricky – possibly due to the unrest at home I was not a happy child and didn’t enjoy early school – I was excluded from pre-school and only allowed into primary if medicated (I started school on Valium!). A teacher called Mrs. Riddle spoke to my mum and persuaded her to let me try books as an alternative, and it changed everything…
I still didn’t have a great school life – I changed school at 8 due to issues around anxiety and the school I was attending, and this continued all through right until I left high school at 18 for university – I had few friends and was subjected to horrific bullying as an ‘outsider’ at a large all-boys secondary school.
Make sure you listen to what Rich shares about his experience with the Ulster Project Delaware
Moving to the UK
I left Northern Ireland to go to university in 1997 and have never gone back, staying in the UK and teaching since then (apart from a year spent traveling and working elsewhere in 2006 after my attempts to join the army went wrong!). I now live with my beautiful wife, Jade, and our two children, Isla and Finn, on the Isle of Wight, working in a small primary school as a Y6 teacher, and senior leader.
Outside of school, I blog about education and books on my website www.whatiread.co.uk and start the #kindnessripple hashtag on Twitter each Thursday, which I founded in lockdown this year after writing a blog about kindness in the classroom for Twinkl (an educational resource website)
Not always wanting to be a teacher
- Worked as crew for a month on a multi-million-pound super-yacht owned by a banker in London, who wanted it sailed around the Med so he could fly in for the odd weekend;
- Worked as a TEFL teacher in Bond street in London;
- Went to lots of concerts (Foo Fighters 2 weeks in a row, anyone?);
- Lived at a fight school in Thailand, training for 3 hours a day at Muay Thai for 3 months (I have never been so fit!), and sparred with a world-champion;
- Qualified as a PADI ‘Rescue Diver’ and nearly died after getting stuck in a shipwreck
Why books matter so much to you
As a lifelong lover of books, I’m incredibly lucky to be a teacher and (hopefully) pass that on to others. I’ve started www.whatiread.co.uk as a way of sharing my love of books with an even wider audience.
Inspired by Twitter, I’m going to post regularly with thoughts and musings on books, reading, and teaching (though I won’t be held to sticking to that list!).
See what I’ve been reading in my blog, browse my site, learn about my literary loves, and find a book that excites and interests you as well.
If you really like, you can ‘Donate‘ a book from my Amazon wishlist for me to write about! Once read, books will be donated to my school/class library.
The Kindness Ripple
I started the #kindnessripple this year in lockdown after I wrote a blog for an education company in the UK called Twinkl.
I included this transcript of a conversation that Roald Dahl had…
“I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being. I’ll put it before any of the things like courage or bravery or generosity or anything else.
Brian Sibley: Or brains even?
Oh gosh, yes, brains is one of the least. You can be a lovely person without brains, absolutely lovely. Kindness – that simple word. To be kind – it covers everything, to my mind. If you’re kind that’s it.”
Roald Dahl, in conversation with Brian Sibley
This (and some other reading and influences) made me think, and the #kindnessripple came off the back of that!
Rich’s Contact Information
Interested in checking out more of the Rethinking Learning podcasts and reflections, click on the podcast tab at the top, the logo below, or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/
For more information about Barbara’s new book, Define Your WHY, go to this page or click on the image of the book for resources, questions, and links.