Looking back and to the future

.Today is the first day that I have really been on Twitter this holiday and so I have been catching up on all the #nurture1314 posts. It’s inspiring to read what people have achieved this year and what they are hoping to do this year and so I thought that I would add my own list of thoughts to the melting pot.

13 things that I have achieved or been happy with this year

My fantastic husband
He is endlessly supportive and my life would be far harder without him. He constantly supports me and encourages me when I am down and tired. On a practical level, he does all that he can around the house which as he works even longer hours than I do, is not easy.

My holidays
The weather this year was amazing and it was so nice to have a summer where I could sit outside and enjoy relaxing in my garden. I had two lovely holidays, one on the Isle of Wight and the other in Taomina in Sicily. Both were perfect in their own way although the food and luxuriousness of the Sicilian hotel probably gave it the edge. Eating pizza while gazing out over the blue sea has to be the perfect way to spend any lunchtime.

Assistant Head
I’m still not really sure how much of an achievement this was. I never really wanted the extra responsibility but allowed my arm to be twisted anyway. In some ways, it  hasn’t meant a huge change as I was doing a lot of the department admin already but I do get blindsided every so often by being informed that something is now my job or being asked if I have done something that I haven’t even thought about. The worst part is having to be more involved with discipline as I am never sure that I handle things as well as I could do.

Year 6
Definitely the biggest change for me and the school. After nearly 30 years of being a 10+ primary school, we now have year 6. The new building was a nerve wracking experience as it began to look as though we wouldn’t be ready in time  but after lots of hours put in during the Summer, we opened our first year 6 classrooms. There were some issues with furniture and it was almost half term before it  was all finally delivered but overall the change went ahead smoothly. With 506 pupils currently on roll, the hall is certainly full when we have our whole school assemblies!

New Curriculum
A new year group has meant a huge amount of extra work load as everything had to be planned from scratch and I had forgotten just how long that takes. It has been great fun planning a whole new curriculum though and as an academy, we are not bound by the new curriculum so have been able to play around with things. I have loved teaching so many new units this term and the children certainly seemed to have enjoyed their lessons so far. I have really enjoyed being able to find new links across the curriculum and coming up with new ideas for lessons.

New Colleagues
Having a new year group coincided with  several retirements so we had a big change in staff which was unusual for our school. It has been wonderful working with new colleagues although I still miss my previous year group partner. It is more difficult to catch up with each other at school so we have to go out for dinner instead 🙂

I don’t spend as much time on there as I once did but it is still a great source of inspiration and a fantastic way of bookmarking ideas. I have got so many ideas from teachers who blog what they have done with their classes and been introduced to some great teachers. I also love the way that I can save ideas pictorially, it is a much better method for me than a list of websites. I just wish that it wasn’t blocked at school so that I could access my pins during the day. The Coventry Literacy team have some great ideas about using pinterest with children and it would be lovely to try them out.

Twitter network
I read more than I post and it is a constant source of ideas and encouragement. I have been directed to inspiring blog posts as well as being given help in many areas. Big thanks to @jobadge and @boydon1967 who are always encouraging and supportive. Their tweets often keep me smiling through the day.

I have seen some fantastic shows this year. Among the highlights have to be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in London and Barnum at Chichester. I love Douglas Hodge and thought he was brilliant as Willy Wonka. The whole spectacle of Barnum was just amazing and the huge tent was a superb venue. Another great show was Anything Goes at Kilworth House. The tap dancing was the best I have seen.The theatre highlights haven’t ended yet as we are off to the Barbican tomorrow to see David Tennant in Richard II. I have also seen some fantastic amateur shows especially The Producers in October this year.

Personally, I ticked off another role when I performed Nimue in Camelot although didn’t count the show as one of our society’s best. I did love being in Hello Dolly at the Buxton Opera house even though the choreography for ‘Sunday Best’ kept me awake at nights as I mentally rehearsed the steps over and over again. We are now rehearsing for Kiss Me Kate in which I play the stage manager. Rehearsals started really well but seem to have lost a bit of momentum lately. Hopefully the energy and enthusiasm will pick up again in the new year.

Christmas Concert
Due to the longterm illness of our music coordinator, I was responsible for our biannual choir concert at the local church. I introduced some new carols which the choir learned amazingly quickly and year 6 had their own spot to celebrate having them for the first year ever. I thought that they sang brilliantly and the feedback on their performance from parents and other staff was brilliant. I was so proud of them!

PTRC forum
The amount of activity on here isn’t as great as it used to be but it is still a brilliant source of support and help, not to mention a brilliant place to let off steam or grumble when you need to. Over the years I have met many of the people who are members of the forum and count several of them as real friends. We met this year in Birmingham and Oxford and hopefully will carry on doing so in the future. I love the way that as a profession, we are able to share so much.

As my children are both grown up and live away (at opposite ends of the country), they maybe don’t feature as much in my daily life as they should. I love them both more than I can say and wish that I could see them both more. They are an achievement in that I know how lucky I have been that they have turned out so brilliantly. I wish both of them every success and happiness in the coming year.

Looking forward to 2014

I could have called this part Targets for 2014 but I think that there are far too many of those around at the moment so I won’t:-) Instead it is just some of things that I would like to do or do better next year. Not sure that I will manage 14 though.

Work/Life Balance
I need to sort this one out. I’m not sure how to but being constantly so tired isn’t fair on my husband or other areas of my life. I suspect that it will be difficult to do anything about it until the end of the school year, but once we have done an entire year, hopefully things will get slightly easier. Being less of a control freak would possibly help?

I need to try and spend more time with my family. It’s not easy as my children live in opposite directions but shouldn’t be impossible.

Go Places
I love my holidays and have just booked holidays to Barcelona and La Rochelle. We have been to both of them before but there is something really relaxing about going back to places that you love and then discovering new things about them. That leaves plenty of time this year to go to places I have never been before, possibly Greece?

This might seem strange as I read all the time. However I haven’t read much that is education based lately and I need to do some catching up. I enjoy reading about schools and learning and think that it is important to keep looking at different ideas and ways of thinking.

In year 5, I tried to get the children to blog at least once a week and we were involved with David Mitchell’s quadblogging. In September I set up the new class blog but simply haven’t had the time to keep it going It started off well but then came to a halt. I really want to try and get the children to post more often and about different things.

I got comiclife installed on our set of ipads at the beginning of the year and have used it successfully However, I think that I really need to extend my use of the ipads in class  beyond one app. That’s a job for the last couple of days of this holiday when I can try things out on my husband’s ipad because he will be back at work!

Get through Sats
The main benefit of being a 10+ primary was that we never had to do KS2 Sats. Now we are stuck with them like everyone else and I don’t seem able to get away from the pressure of targets and points scores. I just hope that both my class and I survive them.

Assuming that we all get through Sats in one piece, we are taking year 6 to London in June. Really looking forward to taking them to see our most famous landmarks and also to seeing Matilda on stage again.

Social Networking
This is an easy one to achieve. I am going to maintain my use of twitter and other contacts to improve and reflect on my practice. The difficulty is finding the time and remembering to look at the links and read the blog posts and articles carefully enough so that they have a chance to make an impact.

I didn’t manage to get to any last year which was a shame. Hopefully I will manage to rectify that this year although they have an irritating habit of clashing with other things that I am committed to 😦

Seeing David Tennant tomorrow is really this year so doesn’t count. We don’t have anything currently planned but hopefully will be able to see some great theatre. I love seeing new productions and going to the West end is a great experience.

I am looking forward to doing Kiss Me Kate although there isn’t a huge amount for the chorus to do. I am also looking forward to doing Aspects of Love at Buxton in the Summer. That will need a bit of cooperation from my Head Teacher though as it will be staged in the first week of the Autumn term. Watch this space to see if I manage it.

Eat Better
I am lazy about food preparation and survive on M&S ready meals during the week. I really need to get back to cooking real food again. I keep reading about how bad sugar is and I know that there is an awful lot in processed foods so I have got to cut down on meals like that.

Switch Off
The trouble with teaching is that it is like gas, it expands to fill all of the available space. The down side of Twitter and other social media is that you can still be working all night as well as the day because you are reading tweets and following links. I need to make sure that I do switch off properly and give time to my other interests and people on my life.

So there it is, my contribution to the year’s end blogfest.