I read a few #nurture1314 posts last year, and I’ve read a few #nurture1415 posts this year. I apologise for not having read more, and I have no right to expect that anyone will read this; but for those that do, as per >this< post by @ChocoTzar, here are my five positives from 2014, and my five hopes for 2015 (and, along the way, the reasons why I haven’t read more posts).
Positives from 2014
- My wife and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. When 42% of UK marriages end in divorce, I remain a man with a hinterland. I don’t need to explain this point. do I?
- My middle son started full-time education and, like for his older brother, I was there to take him to school on his first day. His first few weeks were difficult – my wife actually started to dread going to school, in a “What’s he done today?” sort of way. Having an August birthday, he’s the youngest in his class, and I think (despite having had no problems with two days a week at nursery for the past couple of years) he suffered from a bit of separation anxiety. However, at his teacher’s suggestion, he’s started taking his teddy to school with him, and that genuinely seems to have made a world of difference, to the extent that his teacher told us that he was the best behaved at their Christmas party.
- I continue, as per Dylan Wiliam’s exhortation, to work at improving as a teacher. I feel more confident than ever at explaining, modelling, questioning, using summative and formative assessment, giving effective feedback, and generally finding that balance between teaching content and teaching the skills that make use of that content. My GCSE results this year were the best ever for one of my classes – I’m obviously doing something right.
- I remain part of the school’s research and development team, working with two colleagues to research Growth Mindset and how it can be implemented and embedded across the school. Most of my recent posts reflect this research. Our contracts were extended through to the end of this school year; as part of which, I have co-presented my first ever whole-school INSET session. Having spent four years (2003-2007) completing a PhD, it’s fair to say that I’ve well and truly got the research bug again.
- I have also, as of this month, become the de facto Subject Leader for GCSE Leisure and Tourism. I say ‘de facto’ – although my brief was to develop guidance materials for staff (and students) completing controlled assessments, I was also very quickly given the responsibility of organising a field trip for January so, until anybody tells me any differently, I can now claim to be a Head of Department. This has made me think about the kind of leader that I hope to be which, in turn, led me to discover >this< TED Talk by Simon Sinek on the difference between authority and leadership. I’ve also read his book, Leaders Eat Last. This has very quickly become something of a mantra for me, and will be central to everything that I do in 2015.
Hopes for 2015
- Spend more time with my family. At present, I leave the house before anybody else is awake, and get home somewhere between 5pm and 5:30pm. My children go to bed at 7pm – that means I see them for about an hour and a half per day during the week. In addition, I’ve worked every day this holiday, with the exception of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. To be fair, I’ve been working on contributing schemes of work to a new KS3 curriculum as part of my planning allocation, and on developing the aforementioned guidance materials for staff involved in teaching the GCSE Leisure and Tourism course, which are one-off jobs that will only need minor improvements in future years, but still… I’d like to be able to watch my children grow up without it being over the top of a laptop screen.
- Move house. We’ll be staying in the same town (Newark-on-Trent, in case you’re interested), because house prices are lower than where my parents-in-law live (Midlothian, in case you’re still interested); but, having lived in the same house for over 30 years (my mum died in 1987, and my dad died in 2004, so my sister and I inherited our house; my wife then bought my sister’s share and moved in with me, while my sister moved out with her now-husband), I’m still a little bit daunted by the logistics of it all.
- Become a Chartered Geography Teacher. I’ve had the idea to become a CGeog (Teacher) for a couple of years now, but I wrote it into this year’s PIP and I have written about half of the Professional Self Evaluation Report that is required as part of the application process. Early next year, I’ll need to contact the RGS-IBG to give me a bit of guidance on the application process. (Obviously, I’ll also see if any of the #geographyteacher Twitter community can offer any advice!) Once accredited, I will need to demonstrate a commitment to subject-specific CPD, which might just be the impetus I need to finally attend the Geographical Association Annual Conference in April, which I’ve not done before, despite being a Geography teacher for 8 years.
- I’ve started writing up my research and development work as a book, provisionally entitled Growth Mindset Teaching. It’s only 3,500 words long at present, I’d like to have finished a first draft of it by the end of 2015.
- My dream is to be a professional writer. Increasingly, I realise that the combination of working as a teacher and being married with three children is not especially conducive to writing in your spare time. However, I do have somewhere in the region of 15,000 words of a novel on my external hard drive, and my much of what I’ve read and watched this year has been chosen because it has something in common with what I hope the finished novel will be like, and has therefore helped me to plan the rest of the novel in my mind. It won’t be finished by the end of 2015, but I’d like one of next year’s Nurture hopes to be to finish it by the end of 2016.