#Nurture1314 – My first step towards a positive 2014

Sometimes it can be hard to look back over a year and see the good that’s been a part of it, even though for most people it has outweighed the bad. Why we tend to focus more on the bad than the good has always been a question I’ve pondered over the years, especially when I was fighting my way out of depression many years ago.

2013 has been an interesting & challenging year for me and the last half term has been EXHAUSTING! However, over the past few months I’ve tried hard (with varied success!) to be more positive and I am determined to have more success at this in 2014. My first step towards this is my contribution towards #Nurture1314 and pinching this wonderful idea from Facebook for 2014:

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13 moments that have made 2013 fab:

1. Completing the New Forest Cycletta.
You just have to take one look at me to realise that I’m not the sportiest person, but regardless of this I signed up for a 42k cycle ride. Work and laziness stopped me training as much as I had originally planned, but when the event rolled around, I got on my bike and cycled round the beautiful New Forest. It was extremely wet, it was cold and it was HARD! But I made it to the end feeling more than a little proud of myself and was so pleased with the £170+ I had raised for Macmillan. I did enjoy it and plan to sign up again in 2014. And my slightly damp husband waiting to cheer me over the finish line was a definite highlight.

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2. Shakespeare with 8.8
I adored this class at my previous school. I taught them in Y7 & requested to teach them again in Y8. Shakespeare was always going to be the challenge, but they were as fabulous as ever! Two of my favourite moments with them were: 4 of them asking to use the internet on their phones because the netbooks were too slow and they were impatient to find out the answers to their research questions. Secondly, watching a little lad reading with our wonderful TA and getting all the difficult words right. If you only looked at the data, he was the weakest in the class and Shakespeare should have been tortuous for him, but he worked so hard and that moment of watching these two brilliant people reading alternate pages together was a true highlight of my career.

3. Meeting and working with my new department.
Changing schools is hard. Changing schools mid-year is bloody hard! However, I have been so lucky to find a fabulous department who are funny, supportive and dedicated.

4. Finding my place at Welly.
Arriving with 2 other newbies in the same department can be reassuring, but when we all have brown hair and glasses there can be some confusion. This is made worse when the other two are both called Freya! After 3 months of staff not knowing who I was, no room to call my own and troublesome classes I left for the summer questioning my decision to leave a school where I had an established role and truly felt like I was part of the community. But on my return in September (although still nomadic and struggling with it) I began to find my place. I joined the netball team and, although we haven’t won a match yet, it’s been one of my highlights of 2013. I got back in touch with my drama routes and signed up for a teacher cameo in the school play. And have some good friends outside of my department. Even better, most people know who I am now!

5. My TeachMeet presentation.
This was my first time delivering to teachers who weren’t my colleagues. Terrifying, but brilliant.

6. Presenting at the BFI / LATE Winter Conference.
Having the opportunity to turn my TeachMeet 6min presentation into one of 45min was really exciting and I loved delivering it.

7. My husband.
Annoying and stress-inducing at times (although I believe this is standard practice for husbands!) he can also be truly wonderful. 2013 saw our 5th Wedding Anniversary and I’m still very happy to be his wife. This year he’s left me a beautiful rose from our garden on my bedside table on two different occasions when I was feeling the strains of a new job. He was an amazing support when I left my parents in their new Portuguese home, which was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Which was followed up by a brilliant week with my parents in their new sunny home during the October half term.

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8. My friends, old and new.
As ever they’ve been an amazing support. But they’ve also provided brilliant nights out and many, many laughs this year.

9. Freya and Freya (aka @fod3).
Although not being called Freya may make me feel left out at times, I genuinely feel so lucky to work with these two amazing teachers. Since April, I think we’ve become a really strong team and have already made a positive impact.

10. My sixth formers.
They’re amazing. They make me smile. They push me to be better. Nuff said!

11. Being offered a volunteer role at Glasgow 2014.
London2012 was one of the most amazing and memorable moments of my life. I can’t wait to be part of the Commonwealth Games.

12. Festival of Education & #TLT13.
Two amazing events which reaffirmed to me why I’m a teacher and inspired me to be a better teacher.

13. Realising I was the teacher I wanted to be.
Leaving my previous school was hard and quite upsetting. But all the wonderful messages I got from my students and their parents, both before and after leaving, showed me that I had achieved my aim as a teacher: to improve their English and support them whenever they needed me. It really touched me to see that my students respected and were grateful for everything I had done for them.

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And my 14 aims for 2014:

1. To get at least one C grade from my bottom Y11 set.
They’re not predicted C grades, but they want them. And I desperately want them to get Cs. Wish us luck…

2. To see my friends more.
I’m lucky that the majority of my friends are either teachers or amazingly understanding. But I must see more of them – they help keep me sane and remind me that I’m more than just a teacher.

3. To be better at keeping in touch with long distant friends.
My two closest friends are either living abroad or about to work abroad. I miss them terribly as they’ve been such a huge part of my life for so long and supported me through some of the hardest times in my life, but I am useless at emailing! I MUST rectify this in 2014.

4. To win a netball match!
I love playing netball and have had so much fun with the wonderful members of our team. They’ve made me fitter and made me smile. Winning a match would be a brilliant way to end the season!

5. Continuing the department improvement mission.
Although I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work, I am really looking forward to continuing to work with Freya and Freya. And welcoming Shorny (@shornymorgan) to our little team will just add to all the wonderful things I know we will achieve in 2014.

6. To read for fun.
I miss snuggling up with a good book. I always feel like a fraud as an English teacher when I haven’t read for pleasure and fun in months. I’ve got the reading list ready to go and I plan to steadily work my way through it.

7. To spend more time with family.
I love my family to bits, but they often get neglected when work gets tough. I need to make sure I see them more often, especially as some of them live far away now.

8. Not to let the politics of teaching get me down.
I love my job, I really do. But I hate the politics of it all. Michael Gove & Ofsted seem to be destroying all that is good in this brilliant profession. We know Ofsted is on it’s way in 2014 and we know we have a fight on our hands over a 3 or 4 grading, but I am determined not to let them destroy me. I know that I am good at what I do, in fact my lesson was graded 1 by Ofsted the last time they visited a school I was working in, but I’m not going to be scared of their looming presence.

9. To watch the Academically More Able programme grow.
So many ideas and so little time… But I am determined to make this a thriving and fully integrated part of the school.

10. To attend more teaching events.
I really enjoyed the events I attended and was part of in 2013. These events are truly the best form of battery recharging for tired teachers everywhere and I shall be keeping my eye open for relevant, interesting and exciting teaching events in 2014. I’ve even begun contemplating organising my own…

11. To take more risks.
For a large part of my life I was quiet, lacking in confidence and a bit of a wallflower. I’ve taken real steps to fight this natural instinct and started to move the inner / real me closer to the surface. I want to keep this up and do a few more things which scare me or that need more confidence and gusto.

12. Charity work.
I’ve raised money for charity last year through the Cycletta and supporting a member of my tutor group when she wanted to raise money for Cancer Research. But I want to do more than that. Although I’m not sure what that will be. Yet…

13. Introducing the Creative Writing A Level
Sadly, the biggest factor in this is out of my control now – student numbers! I am desperate to introduce this A Level to the academy as I think it will be great fun and perfect for so many of our students. However, it’s a waiting game now to see if enough people have applied for it and if not, I’ll just have to step up the advertising for 2015!

14. To create the same strong relationships with my Welly students as I had with my Costello students.

And that’s me done. I wonder how many of these will end up in my positive account of 2014 in #Nurture1415?

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