Creative Teacher Support

Creative, practical support and discussion for classroom teachers everywhere


#Nurture 1213 Mid Year Review

Review time! Here goes.

I’ve been feeling like I want and need to round off the year in blogs and, in the spirit of #Nurture1213, I thought I’d give it a go. I’m not too good with constraints and numbered outcomes so I’m not so sure that I’ll be able to pick my twelve highlights of 2012 and my 13 hopes for 2013, but I’ll have a good go.

I couldn’t think of the 12 things that were highlights and the maudlin tone that follows explains why I couldn’t come up with a further 13. 3/10!

Undoubtedly my highlight of the year has to be the discovery of the elephant in the social media room that is Twitter and the linkage and connection to a vast array of outstanding professionals that it has brought me. I started my blog as, what I thought at least would be, a neat way to engage colleagues in my own school in a learning and teaching guide that I co wrote and curated. I thought it would be nice if useful sections of it just dropped into their inboxes. Instead I found so much more.

I found a raft of, what now feels like, colleagues in a staff room in which I can check in whenever I want, get feedback, support and pick up a massive amount of resources, research and simply, help.

Moreover, in what was a distinctly difficult year, it makes me feel pretty useful. With some pretty big obstacles in my way, it’s been nice to feel that there are people who are interested in what I may have to say. Having more than three and a half thousand hits on my blog now and having just broken 500 followers on Twitter is nourishing for an ego that is fairly battered. I’ve even introduced blogging to the students at my school and they’re pretty energised by it too, thanks to @headguruteacher for that one.

I’m chuffed with this one! Twitter has been a fantastic motivator for my own personal professional development. I’m up to over 1000 followers almost 10,000 views of my blog, a contribution to #PedagooLondon and many many supportive colleagues made. 8/10 (not 10 because I’ve recently fallen into the twitter trap of getting drawn into arguments and writing about policy not pedagogy!)

I want to be an Assistant Head. I’ve come reasonably close and had a few disappointing experiences with some useful and some less than useful feedback. I’ve been told to say “we” less and show more humility whilst using less jargon but obviously demonstrating my knowledge and expertise. I’ve been told to provide longer answers with more detail whilst being succinct. Recently I’ve been told that a lesson previously judged by an HMI to be outstanding had a second half that was “quite good” and, a week after successfully jointly observing lessons with an HMI, that I was more than one grading out on a lesson observation.

I was appointed as an Assistant Principal, responsible for Learning & Teaching, CPD and Literacy from September 2013 just over a month ago now. 10/10 and totally excited!

As an AST in Gove’s new Academy landscape, I’m no longer Local Authority funded. This means my school now pays the bill and has given me a three year window of frozen pay, stepped up teaching timetable and a job description that, at least in writing, is the same. ASTs appointed from this point on will be less well paid, potentially be less experienced and will bring something very different to the job. More or less remains to be seen. I currently have a variety of whole school and departmental responsibilities that I now have to fit into a smaller window of time. I continue to offer the training that I have for the past few years but the outreach work has dried up because, well, I’m not free anymore. The new financial position, at least in the “honeymoon” period of a type two Academy, or “school with Academy status” as opposed to Academy, is yet to be channeled towards the creation of circumstances that allow outstanding learning and teaching to spread and be fostered amongst all colleagues. It’s been a tough year in a lot of ways.

This continues to be an issue but one that I am pleased to be leaving behind as I move on to take on a new challenge. I wish I could be more positive about this area but I am saddened by the removal of AST status. Too many outstanding teachers, leaders and professionals will be downgraded as a result of this and good work that could have been done now won’t be. 6/10

Summing up 2012 is pretty tough, I get that setbacks are the stuff we look back on when we get where we want to be, but when you’re in the middle of it, all you want to do is shout really loudly whilst, at the same time, not really wanting people to know you’re struggling with it.

2013: finding my niche?
@kevbartle wrote what I thought was an excellent piece a few weeks ago about fitting in. I loved it. Partly because of the open way he writes and considers situations but also because I identified with it in several ways. In danger of getting a bit self flagellatory, I’m becoming a bit of a past master at messing up internal interviews. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel like I’m underestimated, I’m just not the “guy”, whether its a face fitting thing or the chemistry of teams I don’t know. My abilities aren’t in question, I’m just not the one who gets appointed. I’d like to put this behind me this year and progress.

I’d like to put aside the second guessing of what is wanted and have the courage to just be me and be appointed based on that persona. I’d like to find my niche.

My interview for my Assistant Principal post was the most up front and challenging that I have ever experienced. All answers were doggedly challenged and I was pressed to justify my thoughts. I stuck to my guns and was as close to “me” as I could be and got it. I’m hoping that its the niche I was looking for – everything is pointing to that right now. 9/10

I’d like to be the best teacher, leader, Dad(?) that I can be. I’d like to really push forward on the aspects of learning and teaching that I’m both responsible for and passionate about and I’m excited about my involvement with the learning and teaching aspect of the Achievement for All programme which kicks of the new term in January at my school.

More than anything I guess I’d like to feel good enough.

Re reading this has been pretty uncomfortable. I was down in the dumps and things weren’t improving particularly rapidly. I have pushed forward in a lot of ways but most of these things are things I should be working on constantly anyway. Mostly, it’s better – you can’t ask for more than that. 7/10