“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs
So, the end of 2014 already? Well that went quickly! I don’t seem to be able to find my end of year post from last year, nor my start of year post this year, which is odd! But I can imagine the sorts of things I would have written. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions so I would have just written that I was hopeful for a positive year with a healthier family and that I would do a good job at work. I’m a simple enough girl, and have simple dreams. I know what I want to become, I just don’t know how to get there.
I’ve enjoyed reading the #nurture1415 posts that others have written. It’s inspiring to see the wonderful things that have happened in personal or professional lives, and challenging seeing the aspirations for 2015. One of my best friends gave me an empty jam jar last year at New Year (I know what you’re thinking, she wasn’t being cheap!). In fact we all had one in our group. The jar came with a challenge: to fill it with memories of things that made us laugh, smile, made us proud during 2014 which we would then all look back on at New Year in 2015. This friend has subsequently had a horrible year herself, and yet she still has things to put in that jar and I’m so proud of the way she has dealt with everything. I’ve loved sitting back and listening to my friends chatting when we get together, and hearing of their accomplishments – we’re getting so grown up nowadays and every one is making a difference in their own school and in their families. I’m so blessed to be part of this group of friends who have each other’s backs no matter what, and to have been born into an epic family who would do anything for each other.
So, what has 2014 involved?
I’m not following a particular format, sorry about that, but I’m a bit rebellious I suppose 😉 2014 had plenty of challenges, and saw the loss of loved ones too, but these are some of my highlights (in no particular order).
Running. Lol, did not think I’d be writing that! A year ago I decided to start running regularly. I’d been challenged / inspired by seeing the likes of David Rogers or Dai Barnes or other Twitter runners with their regular updates. I’d loved running as a child/teenager but only ever sprint distance. I still remember trying to keep up with my brother and him pulling me along when he would go running (I was very popular at my all girls secondary school when they realised my bro was the local runner ha!). I’d toyed with running on and off a few times over the years and have always been fit-ish and loved walking, but I didn’t think I had the mentality for anything long distance or the self-discipline and willpower to do more. Having been put down by my ex-husband for a few years it took me accidentally seeing one particular photo to finally drive me to take running seriously in order to get fitter, to de-stress, and to do something for me. I’d love to say I never looked back but I’ll admit I still struggle with it sometimes, and don’t go as far as I should but 2015 will see that improve. I started in January only being able to run for 3 minutes then walk a minute, then 3 minutes, then walk. This built up and then in June I completed my first ever race – a 10km Trailblazer race in Kent to raise money for MNDA. My cousin had died from this awful disease the year before, and I remember when I was part way round (on a stupidly hot day) thinking ‘I can’t do this’. Two things got me to the end: one was having loved ones at the finish line waiting for me (naughty stubborn dad that he is had to be held back by my sister from coming with me I think!), and the other was knowing that one year before my cousin Mark had been having his final journey and had fought the worst fight you can imagine. It humbled me and put my feet to the floor. In July I then completed the 10mile Race for Life to raise money for Cancer Research in honour of my dad (who is battling it heroically), and my Uncle Peter who had passed on earlier in the year. Reading everyone’s stories on their backs as we ran was inspiring, and the atmosphere with a minute’s silence was beautiful. I’ve carried on running throughout the year but injury and illness did stop one final race this year…so next year for more 🙂
Exploring the world. I love travelling. Always have. Probably why I’m a teacher really – so I can have holidays to go away in! This year I’ve been spoiled by the lovely people at Discover the World really. I took part in their first Teacher Tour Guide training cohort to become an Iceland tour leader for schools. This meant I got to spend a week in Iceland with some other great teachers in one of my favourite countries. I never get bored here and can’t wait to be involved with this more, and to go back with my school next Easter. I also spent 8 days in the Azores exploring the islands which was really interesting. Next time I’ll pack a better waterproof but it meant I got to climb my highest peak so far (Mount Pico) and make new friends. I also took a friend to ‘claim back’ Snowdonia as we both needed some excitement – which involved Europe’s fastest / longest zipwire and a giant layered trampoline suspended inside a quarry in the pitch black! Not to mention driving my Cupra into the most hilarious position up a mountain and then getting it back out…the less said about her navigational skills the better.Then the summer saw a ‘siblings and friends’ trip to the Cairngorms. Somewhere I had never been, but fell in love with. We had the most stunning weather, climbed beautiful mountains, played in rivers, went on silly rollercoasters, petted animals, played games, ate amazing food (thanks to my brother-in-law) and my brother and I will never be the same after freefall jumping off from some telegraph poles..brrr. While we were here we also took part in the MNDA Ice Bucket Challenge in memory of our cousin. We wanted to do it properly, so as a family stepped into a freezing cold mountain river, had bin barrels of ice thrown at us, and then threw ourselves into the river and floated downstream. It was great, for a good cause, and in the words of Mark himself – ‘not too shabby’.
Family & Friends. Where would I be without them? I certainly wouldn’t be the same person. Everyone I know has shaped me and moulded me. I was asking my mum this week whether I have become more cynical, and in 2015 I hope to get back more of my ‘pink and fluffy’ mentality. My family and friends are the rock I cling to and lean on. Mum inspires me every day as I’ve seen her passion for teaching, her selfless acts for others, her steadfast resilience, and her compassion. Dad inspires me with his grit, with how gracefully and patiently he fights (terminal) cancer and yet still only worries about others and not himself. Rachel inspires me with her ‘never say no’ attitude, with how generous she is for others, and her creativity (we are all also ever so slightly under the thumb but secretly love this). Jamie inspires me with his intelligence and patience, with how willing he is to put himself out for others, and I am grateful to have him as a brother in law. Darren inspires me with his exploring ways, his desire to help others, and how he always manages to know when someone is about to fall down the stairs in order to be there to catch them (literally). My extended family are also great, and we can’t wait to have Anuta join us back in the country too. And there’s always the faithful hound, BeBo, my lovely Border Collie. I’ve already mentioned my friends, but again I am very fortunate here. To have friends that are supportive but who also challenge me, and who push me to be better. Seeing their kids growing up is amazing as well, and I’m so happy for all those who had new little arrivals this year. I’m starting to feel old here when I realise that every one of my close friends is some combination (or all) of ‘partnered up’, with kids, with mortgages, with proper jobs, being published, winning awards….it’s great to see.
Professional stuff. This blog is a professional reflection blog really after all. I’m not big on self-promotion and feel pretty daft when I write things down, but there have been some cool professional moments this year. The big one is changing job really. I loved my time at Priory with the team, and all the changes that we put in place, and loved leading the department that I was proud of belonging to but it was time for something new. When I told the students I was leaving I was really touched with their disappointed responses, and had some lovely messages from them including an ‘Ode to a Geography Teacher’ poem that I will keep always. I’m proud of what we achieved there, and had some beautiful ‘spine tingly’ moments like children being on BBC News, or presenting at TeachMeets, or winning awards themselves, or some great results. Leaving one place after six years, and being promoted in a new school to oversee Hums and whole school Numeracy, has been pretty daunting. The long autumn term is now behind us, and it’s been a roller-coaster. It’s starting to feel more like home, and I do work with some lovely people. But I miss being part of the ‘A Team’ that once was as well. I think my new school has found me a bit more than they expected, but then they did hire me to ‘stir things up’ so it shouldn’t really be a surprise. I’m having to be thicker skinned than in the past, and fighting battles I didn’t expect. I’m excited about the future with introducing more fieldwork (Iceland 2015 here we come, expeditions, KS3 weekend fun, etc.), breaking the rules on BYOD and being a leading area in the use of tech (sorry in advance), changing mindsets (awful phrase), and seeing kids make the progress they deserve. Listening in on the parents’ evenings so far has been both uplifting and heartbreaking – uplifting to hear parent after parent, child after child saying ‘we like Geography now’ or ‘we’re learning so much now’, heartbreaking that for some this is coming at the end of the school career and is maybe too little too late. I don’t like injustice, and don’t like children getting a raw deal, so in 2015 we need to really nail this and turn the tide back.
I’ve been honoured to be asked to take part in leading different conferences this year, stepping out of the shadows a bit more perhaps. I’ve shared stories and ideas at TLAB, a Discover the World climate change conference, the RGS Expedition weekend, various TeachMeets and other things. It was lovely picking up the department’s GA ‘Centre of Excellence’ Quality Mark award for the team past and present, and was chuffed and surprised to have a few nominations for blog awards and things myself this year which was humbling. I spent the year working with the Prince’s Teaching Institute as a Lead Teacher which was very interesting and rewarding, and I look forward to the 2014_15 cohort too. I was very happy to be part of the Google Teacher Academy in October to become Google Certified and hope that in future Microsoft Partners in Learning might like me involved again here. And I’ve started co-writing a GCSE Geography textbook for the new specifications which is exciting, scary, tiring…you take your pick! Somehow it has been ten years since I graduated, and my life looks nothing like I thought it would back then but I seem to have fallen into a job that I love and that I’m good at so goes to show that long term plans aren’t all they’re cracked up to be 😉
So thoughts for 2015?
A lot has been written about resolutions, targets, ambitions, aspirations. There’s the #workloadchallenge or #wellbeing trend going around at the mo. I do need to challenge myself to improve my work-life balance, but I don’t want to do a half job either. The New Year’s Honours List had plenty of people named in there for ‘services to education’, and wouldn’t that be something exciting one day in the distant future eh? I just want to be on some child’s list for ‘having made a difference’. Simples.
When you think about 2014, and look into the trends for the year, it’s quite interesting to see. Google has these topics in the Top searches globally: Ebola, Love, ALS/MND, Fracking, WW1 Anniversary. The biggest twitter trends have included #bringbackourgirls, #umbrellarevolution, #BlackLivesMatter, #RealLove, and of course #Ebola. We are wired to be political, and it’s interesting how the biggest trends have been about love, saving lives, making a difference. As a teacher I hope to inspire children to ask questions, make good relationships, make a difference. I found the Google trend summary video quite uplifting:
And the Twitter Moments are also great to investigate: https://2014.twitter.com/moments when you have time. In the #yearoftheselfie what have been your best moments?
So I’ll just stick in some photos of the year that saw me start drinking ‘proper coffee’, run a race, explore new places, and enjoy the simple things in life of friends, family and walking the dog. Next year I hope to spend more time with those I love, and to be happy. I would like at this time next year to be able to look back on a job well done, and that I’ve made a difference in my school. I want to be a good friend, and maybe inspire others with what I do. I’m going to complete at least 5 races, and run 600miles in 2015. I’m going to see my dad kick cancer’s backside some more, and see my family healthy and happy. Ideally this will also include a wedding or two 😉 I’m looking forward to speaking at Bett and the GA conference, to writing the textbook and maybe something else, to working with the PTI some more, helping with TeachMeet Pompey and the first TeachMeet at the GA conference, leading my school’s first Iceland trip and revamping the department. And who knows what else!