After reading so many excellent blog posts, this has inspired me to reflect upon a hectic year, many good things have happened but there are challenges to be faced and overcome in 2014. So here is my take on 2013 and hopes and challenges for 2014.
I started using Twitter as a CPD and PLN tool in 2012. Twitter was something that Jim Smith emphasised in his INSET course I attended in London and I thought I would give this a go. Without doubt using Twitter has been a revolutionary influence on my teaching career and given me countless opportunities both to network and be involved in a number of educational initiatives that would have otherwise been unknown to me. To all those I have shared resources with, who have helped me along or have exchanged ideas and opinions I thank you as you have reinvigorated and saved me from becoming stale and complacent.
Berkhamsted School’s Teaching, Learning and Assessment Conference 2013
Quite rightly, this conference [the first of many, I hope] has gained much coverage on Twitter and I was privileged to be asked to lead a workshop by Nick Dennis [@NickDennis], who masterfully organised this splendid conference – no easy task. I casually agreed not knowing what impact this would have on my professional development. The reaction to my workshop – Signposting Progress – was well received and it was eye opening seeing how this gained coverage on Twitter while I was delivering the session. Also, being able to meet many famous teachers either delivering sessions or on a more informal basis was perhaps the highlight. It is rare that I leave a conference absolutely buzzing – this was one of those occasions. A more detailed review of the conference and my workshop can be found via these links –
Google Cultural Institute
During the summer, I was asked to be part of a team that could review and pilot the Google Cultural Institute in the History classroom by Ed Comms on behalf of Google. Flattered to be asked, I worked with our ICT Department in constructing a project for our Year 8 students on Apartheid in South Africa. This was not only gave our students a different project to undertake but it also enhanced our cross-curricular links with other departments. A more detailed review of this experience can be found via this link –
Back to RE
Because of various cuts being made to the school budget, my teaching timetable has increased has increased by 6 hours and all these hours involved me teaching RE – for the first time in nearly ten years. This I have enjoyed much more than I expected as this has given me the opportunity to teach more students in a different context, given me something different to do and allowed me to apply the different strategies I have been developing over the past couple of years – vicar top trumps being a highlight. Also, I have rewritten the assessments and mark schemes [mainly because there were not enough in accordance with the new assessment policy] which has allowed me to contribute to a different team.
I just love it! Sharing ideas, sharing resources, passing on nuggets and giving credit to others. I am very proud of the new blog I have developed since April and thank you to all those who have given me ideas which I have promoted on here.
Beaumont School’s Teach Meet
I had the pleasure to present at my First Teach Meet which was held in November at Beaumont School. It was the first Teach Meet held at a Hertfordshire state school and Beaumont School did an absolute cracking job. On a cold, wet Friday evening, it was a real pleasure to meet other teachers from different schools and collaborate in sharing ideas. A more detailed review of this event can be found via this link –
Without doubt, I work in a school with a fantastic student body. They have given me moments of despair and frustration but this is outweighed by the many moments of inspiration and enjoyment. I work closely with our Year 12 House Captains and we have a brilliant group of young people who are willing to give up many hours in leading others in House events. My classes always react well to my lessons, giving me honest feedback on what activities they have enjoyed and found useful as well as others that they enjoyed less well. They challenge and demand the very best from me but so many say thank you at the end of the lesson. Amazing.
Over the last few years, there has been an explosion of books that relate to teaching. What is important here, that many of these books have come from teachers themselves who give a realistic perspective but also come up with many teaching gems. I can be a little obsessive here as I do buy many of the books published by Independent Thinking but each one has given me food for thought and things to think about. 2013’s highlights include Ross Morrison McGill [@teachingToolkit] – 100 ideas for Secondary School Teachers – Outstanding Lessons and Mark Anderson’s [@ICTEvangelist] Perfect ICT in Every Lesson. Reviews of each can be found via the links below –
Not only have there been many books but also the development of the teacher blog has become an important development in personal CPD. There are so many to choose from but Russel Tarr, Gemma Harvey and David Didau’s blogs have challenged my thinking as well as provide me with ideas that I can tailor to my classes. Their blogs can be found below –
Hopes for 2014
Holding the fort
2013 ended with bad news. My Head of Department is seriously ill and will be out of action for the rest of the academic year, at best. This has meant a reshuffling of timetables to cover her exam classes. I have borne the brunt of this by covering 3 of the 5 exam classes. This has led to many of my Key Stage 3 classes and my Year 10 class being split up. This is a difficult situation, which is no one’s fault but has placed me in a challenging position with Ofsted likely to visit us next term. I am teaching both groups of Year 13 for the English History paper which means a massive marking load. I also have to write both Year 12 and Year 13 trial exam papers for next month. This is a real challenge – not only keeping up with the mark load, but to reassure parents and students as well as teaching effective lessons and ensuring that students are getting the very best exam chances in trying circumstances. Next term is going to see me as a thing of perpetual motion. Wish me luck, I am determined to meet the challenge head on.
A new challenge
It is time for me to have a new challenge. I have been Deputy Head of Sixth Form, Deputy Head of Year, have run House events for over ten years, and am currently Student Leadership and Student Voice co-ordinator. These experiences have undoubtedly made me a better teacher, widened my teaching perspective and raised my profile within the school community. Now, it is time for something else. This may be influenced by the fact I will turn 40 in 2014 but I am looking to do something new before staleness and complacency sets in. Whether this challenge is in the same school or elsewhere I am open to whatever comes my way. Let’s see what 2014 brings ….
Ofsted is on its way
We are due an Ofsted next term …….
This has been a highlight of 2013, hopefully it will be in 2014.
Berkhamsted School’s Teaching, Learning and Assessment Conference 2014
This time I will be a delegate and looking at what is on offer this is an essential CPD event of 2014. I have happily spent my own money to come along and also sacrificed a Saturday on the football terraces to be there. Also there are some fantastic pubs in Berkhamsted – anyone want to join me afterwards for some fine ale/cider?
This has taken a massive hit since September. My dancing has been less frequent [I am a jive teacher in my spare time] and this was something I vowed not to do when I started to hit the dancefloor ten years ago. Exercise and bursting the teacher bubble is essential for stamina and sanity. 2014 will be different to the second half of 2013.