Self indulgent and not particularly useful- maybe.
Necessary for all to do – probably.
I went on a rather wintery walk today; I took a photo of a beautiful reflection of a tree in the Itchen’s chilly waters highlighted only briefly by the burnt orange of the setting sun. The sunlight lingered long enough for me to take the photograph and as the reflection began to dissipate in the water (and my fingers began to freeze), I realised it was perhaps necessary to begin looking backwards and forwards rather than focusing simply on what has been and will soon be gone.
As Janus would no doubt himself suggest, the blurry line between December and January is the best time to do so and all the lovely Nurture 14/15 posts encapsulate this suggestion.
Having suggested that I think reflective posts are important, I’m so glad to see more people writing Nurture blogs this year – looking back on my previous Nurture post I can see that it was incredibly useful before starting the year and to read again a year later. I’m also glad it’s not more 5+5 thoughts and hopes this year!
Much more precise than last year’s, here are my Nurture 14/15 thoughts.
Things I am proud of that happened in 2014:
1. Developing and creating a new KS3 Curriculum – I am so pleased that from a small and naive suggestion, “We should change the KS3 Curriculum” I made in February, that I am now able to say we now have a coherent curriculum which allows KS3 students to experience challenging and varied texts before their KS4 journey. Although not perfect, I far prefer our new KS3 Curriculum because of it’s coherence, challenge and depth. I took many ideas from many sources and thank them all for their help and guidance. Thanks to @Debsgf for collating a lot on the KS3 Dropbox. In the new year, I will finally publish a post about the changes we have made.
2. TLT14 – Thanks to my partner in crime and organiser extraordinaire @DavidFawcett_27 for allowing me the opportunity to fuss over TLT again. TLT14 or Teaching and Learning Takeover both exhausts and enlightens me. We are merely facilitators (and I’d call myself a decorator) of fantastic individuals willing to give up their free time to share ideas with equally willing and wonderful delegates. I hope that TLT15 (got a ring to it) will be just as helpful and that I can continue to be part of such an exhaustingly magical experience. I really enjoyed this year’s addition of the TLTea Parties too – the sharing continues to continue and that is just wonderful.
3. Teaching – all of it. I think I’ve got better. A little bit. I’m far better at realising what is important and thankfully I’ve never been one to care much about gradings as long as I can justify to myself my decisions. This has been more prevalent than ever this year and it’s great to get constructive feedback over a number.
I know that I’m much better at teaching simple but effective lessons this year. I’ve also realised that fireworks should be confined to bonfire night and coloured paper doesn’t equal outstanding practice. I’m much quicker at marking – although it does seem to keep coming.
4. Facilitating ideas and others – In my new role as Head of KS3 in English, I quickly realised that when you change role you are expected to know what to do. ‘Head of…’ implies you should lead but really what you are doing is facilitating others’ ideas and methods. As usual, I am fairly vocal in letting people know I don’t know what I’m doing and still believe this can only be a good thing. I know how to do a fair few things but nothing will ever change my mind that the only positive way to succeed in any role is to ensure you ask questions and don’t presume your way is right. I am very lucky to have fantastic people leading me through and allowing me to facilitate new ideas at KS3.
5. Work/life balance – it’s improving. I know it’s hard but I believe you can do many things if you don’t try to do everything perfectly. I’ve carried on horse riding, running races, been on holidays and visited friends near and far. None of which I have been perfect at but all of which I have enjoyed.
Things I hope for in 2015:
1. Teaching – I’d like to keep getting better. I hope I can inspire my loud and tricky but loveable year 11s to get the results they can achieve and at the other end support my year 7s who struggle so desperately with literacy. I hope I continue to work out what does and what doesn’t matter in that moment. I would like to explore many aspects of teaching in more depth and detail but realise I have time ahead to do this. There is no need to rush but much need to stand and stare.
2. Travel – I’d like to travel further and for longer in 2014. I’d like to see the world but also how education systems work in other places in the world but I realise this cannot happen in one half term.
3. Read more – I was bought a Kindle for Christmas. It’s a strange old thing that does not resemble reading as I know it but shall perhaps encourage me to read more out of school. I shall read.
4. Attend more Edu events – I was tired in 2014. Despite claiming to have a work/life balance, it was a little exhausting. I would like to visit some of the wonderful people who have supported me and attend a ResearchEd conference so that I can regain the belief that research is important and begin more of my own. I have @Johntomsett’s voice on repeat in my head telling me to go! Sometimes, I chose life over education. Sometimes I chose sleep. I’ll try to balance all next year.
5. Catch up with friends more often – I’d like to see all groups of people more often. I want to see my beautiful goddaughter more often as she grows up and learns more about the world around her. I hope to see friends from far and near, friends from work out of work, friends from school in our new lives, friends from the educational world who have already made work and life better and I hope to make many new friends too.
Lastly, perhaps we can all look to leave anything that doesn’t make us happy (by the 31st December) securely and safely in 2014 then start afresh in 2015.
As C.S Lewis said “There are far far better things ahead than any we leave behind”.
Happy New Year all!
Ps. This is the photo that made me reflect…