I’ve read three of these today. From @rlj1981 I learned that taking a leap out of one’s comfort zone when feeling an undeniable professional impetus can be a rewarding endeavour, worthy of the exertion. And that I’m not the only one to wave my arms around when talking. Phew. And from @Gwenelope I’ve delighted in seeing that the irrepressible desire to teach and to pass on this enthusiasm isn’t just inside me, but also in others, irrespective of personal circumstance. Thank you for you candour. The third I read was from @cherylkd who has reminded me of two universal truths…that “my school” and the pupils therein always come first on the list, and that work/life balance is still elusive for those who revel in educational discussion.
Cumulatively, these three really got to me.
Most of the people who might read this don’t know me, or not very well. As a reflective document, this is probably best seen as ‘by me, for me’ then, so here goes.
2014 began, for me, with new experiences as both a mother and a daughter. My son had just turned 17 and his embarking on driving lessons became the most terrifying experience of my life. He’s out now…it’s cold and dark and he’s driving on country roads in a county notorious for deaths among young male drivers. Drive safely, son, and you might make it to your 18th birthday in two days time. We’ve got you a really great present, honest. And then, in January, my mum had a hip replacement op. Several weekends followed of driving back and forth between Cumbria and Lincolnshire. Lots of errands, little bits of housework and shopping, nail cutting, hair washing and plenty of reminiscing over the old days later and mum is pretty much recovered, mobile again, independent once more. I’m her only child, just as James is mine. I wonder what our mother-son relationship will be like in 30 years time.
The end of the school year brought a tremendous clash between our personal and professional worlds. We (husband and wife) realised in no uncertain terms that our professional destinies are not entirely in our own hands, regardless of our capabilities,…and much as I would like to go into detail, I won’t, except to recommend that leaders remember that teachers are people too, not merely commodities.
The light in the darkness for me, at this time, actually came through Twitter. I’ve had an account for years, but never really used it. Then for some reason, probably through something I’d read elsewhere, I started looking up ‘education’ people. I found some ‘big’ contributors and a few key bloggers. Luckily, they make sure they promote their own and each other’s work pretty frequently, and for a newbie like me, this was a good starting point. In February, I started tweeting, and remember a discussion about assessment and criteria with one @mfordhamhistory pretty vividly. Twitter has reinforced for me that I do have a voice, and that I have a sometimes outspoken, yet sometimes strangely introverted, drive to promote teachers, teaching and all things educational. My role as a Head of Professional Development both fuels and feeds this and I am as keen as ever to develop this role. On Twitter, I’ve built up a small following of about 250. I know fewer than 10 in person. One is a neighbour, one an old friend, one a former colleague, one a former student pal now also a teacher. Three are former pupils, one of whom is now a teacher herself, all of whom are well aware of how much my teaching means to me. I hope everyone who knows me is aware of this. As for the other 240 odd, well what an absolutely joyous revelation it is to be among such a crowd of education geeks! If only I’d realised this sooner.
Earlier this month, I had wanted to dip my toe into new waters. I was booked onto @lisajaneashes pedagoo Christmas party in Newcastle, slightly nervous about what to expect, train ticket booked and everything, when my husband suffered a huge bout of back pain, was stuck in bed for weeks, zombified on diazepam and pretty much shut inside of himself. This was horrible. And caused me to have to cancel. Sorry, dear, but it’s true: missing out on Newcastle was a disappointment.
And so to 2015.
January sees the @CollofTeaching meeting in Birmingham. I have so much motivation to see ‘real teachers’ involved in the establishment of a College that I’m travelling from Cumbria to get to this and be part of the discussion and maybe develop the blogs I have started on this theme. Later in the month, I’m going to my first Teachmeet, a new venture in this part of the country, I assure you, at a nearby school. And I’ll be contributing. In February, I’m going to London for the IoE Festival of Education, and in June to NRocks2015. 2015 is the year when I’m determined to put my own beliefs and motivations about education out there, to share and build, and hopefully to drink in new ideas and grow.
On the home front, James turns 18 on Sunday. We’re going to Centerparcs to celebrate. I hope he enjoys the copy of Harry’s Last Stand we’ve got him. Welcome to adulthood, son. A levels permitting, he’ll be off to uni in the autumn, leaving us as part-time empty-nesters with time on our hands and significantly lower supermarket bills.
Most of the people who might read this don’t know me, or not very well. Maybe a little better now. And, I hope, better again in the year to come.