Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Reflections and Hopes - 2015-2016 - Part 1 - Reflections on 2015

So, it has been two years since I wrote one of these posts.   This year has been amazing (and challenging) and I am so looking forward to next year as I can just feel it will be a good one.  I am writing about my reflections on this year first.  Hopes for next year will follow soon.

Reflections on 2015

Becoming a Mama - So I am now a mama and this has been an immense experience.  It has opened up a part of myself that I had no idea existed and allowed me to experience the most unselfish love there is.  Such an honour.  I made the decision to go back to work and be a mama too and it has been absolutely the right decision for me.  I have always been so passionate about teaching and Tilly has made me even more aware of how important a job I have in being a part of shaping the future that she will grow up into.  How lucky am I that I now have two jobs I cherish.

Beginning Teachers - One of my responsibilities is the CPD and the support of NQTs and beginning teachers.  I have mentored individual beginning teachers in the past but working with a whole group of them has been a great experience.  I did a PGCE whereas they are all Teach First or Schools Direct participants coming in to teaching   I loved my PGCE at the Institute of Education but the variety of ways into teaching now really does allow the best from all walks of life to enter into teaching successfully.  There is not a one size fits all when it comes to starting out and continuing to be a successful teacher.  They are the most honest, passionate and interesting bunch I could hope to work with and they make me excited about the future of teaching. 

Book Number One – My very first book, all of my own, was published by Bloomsbury this year; How to Survive an Ofsted Inspection.  Writing this was a wonderful experience and I feel so lucky to have been asked to write the book.  I know the Ofsted criteria seems to change like the days of the week at times recently but I am completely happy that my advice and guidance in this book applies regardless of all those changes.  My heart is in this book and I adored writing it.    

Book Number Two – While on maternity leave I wrote my second book and this was a whole different kettle of fish.  I have written the first of a CPD library for Bloomsbury and it is all about Marking and Feedback.  The process of fully focusing in on one element of teaching for an entire book was enlightening.  I loved researching, I so enjoyed the deep reflection I went through in the process of writing the book.  I am also excited to have been asked to be the series editor for the entire series.  I remember when my editor spoke to me about the initial idea of the series and I knew it could be amazing.  The discussions and planning sessions we have had since have been really quite fascinating to be involved in.  We have some amazing books on their way soon.  Watch this space!    

Whole School Events – Another one of my (many) responsibilities this year is the organisation and overseeing of whole school events.  I have so enjoyed this as the year has gone on.  Even though it does mean staying in work later that is probably right with a little one (thank goodness for a loving daddy at home with my monkey – a modern man my mother would say :-) Good daddy I say) I can genuinely say I have felt excited about this role.  My highlight was the organisation of the first ever musical concert the Academy has ever hosted.  It was so special to see our students performing such wonderful, eclectic and emotional pieces of music.  The audience were shedding tears, dancing in their seats and applauding until their hands stung.   It was simply spectacular.  It was a wonderful event to organise and even better to watch!  Students excelling outside of the classroom are a testament to all that we do with them in the classroom I think.

Teaching and Learning Takeover – I ran a workshop on questioning entitled “marvellous questions of monumental learning.” Love a little alliteration me. I was honoured and, if I’m honest, slightly horrified to discover that I was presenting in the main lecture hall when I arrived for the day.  It is the second time I have been a part of this event and it really is a wonderful day.  I am so pleased I could be involved this year.

Sharing my Blog in the Classroom – So I took the leap and shared one of my blog posts with my Year 11 students as part of the prep for their iGCSE. (They need to know what a blog is and how to decipher / write in that style for their exam.)  I shared with them my Building Beautiful Cathedrals  blog where I discuss my experiences of meeting ex-students a few years down the line and how proud it makes me and what a wonderful job we have in being a part of the history of the adults of the future. I was bloody nervous!  Students are always so brutally honest, as we all know, so I was waiting for the pointing out of typos and the rolling of eyes at certain parts etc… but they were a little quiet when we read the blog.  There was a silence in the room and they then got on with the analysis task I set them quietly. (not at all like my class if you know them! :-)  After the lesson, throughout the course of that day, three of my students came to see me and talk about what I had written.  They were all so lovely and warm and it made me so happy to have shared it with them.  I am so glad I let my students be the critic of me as I think it makes me a better teacher (and writer for that matter) because I am open to their thoughts.

Colleagues – I have the privilege of working with some truly great people, professionally and personally, at my current school and I just want to take the time to thank them for making me the teacher and leader that I am.

Students – There are so many lovely students I could mention this year so I will have to choose wisely.  To the student in my house (you know who you are) who performed so beautifully at the Winter Concert, I shed a tear when you sang and you have a truly special talent – use it wisely.  To the student who has grown so much in the last two years and matured into a respectful and wonderful young man, I salute you for your resilience in tough circumstances – you will go far.   To the student who always wants to know if they are top of the class in the assessment we have, you are amazing even when you are not top of the league table because of who you are and how you behave – and that means a lot coming from the competitive me!   As always, I could go on but really need a full blog post for this! 

Future Leaders - I have, at last, able to begin my exciting journey with Future Leaders this Summer.  The training I received over the two week intensive course and training days so far have really have absolutely helped me have a great year so far.  I am very much looking forward to the continuation of the course as the year goes on.  

What a year. Happy holidays everyone.

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