I haven’t written one of these before but have always wanted to so I’ve found some time to have a go this year.
2015 – It’s fair to say that last year was a mixed bag of ups and downs, there were quite a few challenges that I had to overcome professionally, especially at the beginning of the year. But I can honestly say that after a lot of hard work and constantly striving to do better, the year ended on a high. One of my best qualities (I think) is how reflective I am and how I always have the pupils in my class/school at the heart of everything I do. Without these 2 qualities the year would have been very different.
My top 5 achievements from 2015 are (in no particular order):
Reignited the passion for teaching – I know I’m not alone with this one as we all go through the ups and downs of teaching, having started a new job 18 months ago, the first year was difficult to say the least. But since September I have really started to feel like a teacher again, I feel like I am making the difference I want to make to pupils (and staff) around me. I suppose most of this comes down to new colleagues with new ways of working and new pressures. I now know what to expect and can prepare for them. I moved classrooms over the summer and also had my ICT strategy become real (see #3). Being a teacher for 12 years I should know how to deal with the bumps and having the summer holidays to reflect really helped.
Digital Leaders Day – Back in January myself and some colleagues (mainly @shdebnam) from other schools organised our first Digital Leaders Day (#dld2015) where 70 children from 6 primary schools got together and took part in a day of learning and sharing. With the kind support from a number of companies who provided workshops we had a fantastic day and now plan to make it an annual event (see below).
Implementing my ICT strategy – I have always been ICT leader and starting my new job presented the greatest challenge I have faced yet as 2 schools were amalgamating and their current provision of equipment, teaching and learning was not ready for the 21st Century to say the least. It took me a year of auditing, planning and preparing but finally over the summer holidays work began on 2 BT fibre lines, upgrading of our network, purchasing of new iPads and Chromebooks, removing of IWBs in KS2 and replacing with TV screens and moving all our data to the cloud. The first few weeks in September were challenging getting everyone up to speed and everything setup, bit very quickly things fell into space, just as well as we had Estyn in October. There are still a few issues to iron out but the transformation has been dramatic from both staff and pupils who have embraced it very positively. My focus now is developing the teaching and learning of ICT. The journey continues.
Excellence in Teaching Programme – In October this year I had the opportunity to be part of a course aimed at helping us teachers understand what excellence is and how to develop our own teaching practice. This has been by far the best course I have ever been on. It was completed over 5 sessions/days and involved a lot of brain work and really pulling apart our practice, getting us to reflect and strive to become better. I worked in a triad with 2 other teachers from school which was brilliant as I have learnt so much from them. I got so much from this course, not only the time to reflect and analyse my own teaching but ideas, strategies and the confidence to be even better. Have a look at the Twitter hashtag #easetp4 for all the chat. Thanks to @catkucia and @MikeCameronEAS for organising – brilliant stuff. As a result the 3 of us in my school are now leading this as part of our School Improvement Plan.
Collaboration with others – During last year I had opportunity to collaborate with a number of different schools and individuals. My iCanCompute group of 6 primaries met a few times and we delivered the Digital leaders Day. From that myself and @shdebnam were invited to be part of the ‘ICT Lead Schools’ a group of schools from the South East Wales EAS region who work together to develop the teaching and learning of ICT across the 5 local authorities. This has started to open up a lot of opportunities and has been a real pleasure to be part of. Thanks @itimbrell for the invite. I’m looking forward to more exciting projects next year. Finally I worked a lot with Sarah Giles (@shdebnam) from a primary school close by and this has proved invaluable as we have moved ICT on in leaps and bounds in both our schools through our working together.
And here are my 5 aspirations for 2016:
As with every year I always start with the aim to stay on top of marking, do paperwork when it is given, not take so much work home and have more of a life but this never lasts past the first week and I have come to the conclusion that this will never change, I work extremely hard during term time to then have quality time off in the holidays. To do my job properly and give the pupils the best opportunities as well as ticking all the boxes, I don’t see it done any other way.
Presenting at BETT 2016 – I hoped that I one day I would have the opportunity to present at BETT the technology show in London for education and this year, I have been invited by Google to present on their stand which I am so excited (and massively nervous) for. As a school we have embraced and used Google Apps for Education which is now the backbone to everything we do, therefore it is a great opportunity to share our story with visitors to BETT. I am presenting on Wednesday at 12pm on the Google stand. No doubt a post will appear after it.
Being more positive in the classroom – This comes from the Excellence in Teaching programme I was part of, one of the key things I took away from it was to be more positive towards my pupils, I am fully aware that I am sometimes wound up, tired or stressed (mainly from having 3 young children and a job that requires crazy hours to get everything done) and although I don’t take it out on the children, I sometimes need to be a bit more patient and praise them more. I plan on celebrating those pupils that have overcome problems at the end of each week as well as trying to say something positive to all pupils everyday.
Not to let other people’s negative attitudes get me down – School can be a difficult place, with so many pressures it is easy to get caught up in negative attitudes and moaning about people or processes. Generally I think I have a positive (growth) attitude or mindset and always try to see the best in things, but I have in the past been dragged down by those around me who are negative about everything and after a while this pulls you down. This year I want to remain positive and also try and encourage others around me to be more positive, should be an interesting challenge.
Collaborating and sharing more – This is quite an easy one, the collaboration and beginning of new opportunities last year has ensured the year will start off well and I just need to keep sharing what I’m doing. I need to blog more which I am aiming to do. I also ended the year by beginning a link with a school in Siberia, this is something I defintiely want to develop. My ICT links are growing just through the courses I am running and the groups I am part of so it will be good to collaborate and share in other areas. The Excellence in Teaching programme allowed that to happen and I look forward to more in 2016.
Digital Leader Day 2016 – This is still in the early stages of planning but we have bigger plans to get more schools on board and more pupils benefitting from sharing and learning from each other. More details soon once a venue is booked. We already have offers from a number of companies and schools to take part which is very exciting.
So here’s to 2016, what a year it will be as I’m also getting married!