There are a seriously great bunch of people on Twitter; many of whom have constructed their own reflective #Nurture1415 posts. @Sue_Cowley has collated these here, and @ICTEvangelist has produced some fantastic posters for each here.
My post is designed to cover a few professional and personal highs and lows, with a little look into 2015. I’m not much of a writer, nor am I likely to say anything profound, but hopefully I can provide something meaningful to someone. I’ve been particularly inspired by @kevbartle and his post, and by @mumta_sharma and her post.
New Head of Science Role
September saw me begin my first year as Head of Science (having done Nov to Aug as maternity cover). It’s been great fun and I am lucky to have an unbelievable team working with me. They are all brilliant teachers (this isn’t me being flowery and over kind) who absolutely understand education; they’ve got high but realistic expectations of each other and their students. What I love about working with them is that they are all so supportive of each other and are beautifully in tune with me and ridding the nonsense from any initiatives. We work together to make the best of any situation for the students and for each other. We have a true team spirit and I couldn’t ask for more.
There are difficulties. The ridiculous administrative burden of Quality Assurance is not easy to stomach. Being a bit reactionary I do find myself on the wrong side of SLT’s good list! As a HoD I do need to ensure my immediate mode is to be more absorbent and then react, rather than showing fairly immediate outrage (usually well placed in the end…) This is probably my biggest weakness and I have consciously made an effort since September to quietly take things in and spend more time digesting before bringing it back up in a more considered way.
Oh and STAFFING! My word, what a nightmare. We have 18 teachers in Science, and from the off we had difficulties as our maternity cover teacher (obtained through an agency) pulled out at October half-term and the replacement really knew how to draw out parental complaints like nobody I’ve ever known! We have managed to get another replacement, but we also have someone retiring early due to workload pressures, a maternity leaving mid-January (who we are shuffling the timetable to replace) and a maternity leave to come. We have another maternity returning in between those two leaving. It’s all fallen entirety out of sync, so there are more challenges to come.
Where are we heading? Our school is slowwwwwlllyyyy moving from a top-down approach to management, so we’re beginning to get more of a voice and a say in how we move forward as a department. At the minute we have so many directed areas for development (across the board for the whole school) that there’s just no capacity for putting our own twist on things. It’s frustrating because we have great ideas, but the expectations are that marking, feedback, questioning, homework and the like are all done in the same way. This is changing and we’ll make our mark. We’ve already transformed our intervention strategy this year to reduce the amount of time teachers spend outside of the classroom, and we have a retest system that is pushing students to really study hard for their end of unit assessments. I’m excited to continue developing our vision and seeing it all come to fruition!
Lesson Planning…amongst others
I may be able to wing an Outstanding observation but I’m entirely confident that my preparation for my day to day teaching has taken a significant hit. Despite being HoD, I have a big timetable and it’s almost entirely sixth form. I’ve become lazy – because it’s “easy” to plan for them as they’ll soak up anything thrown at them. This I must address straight away. It requires a reshuffle of priorities, which might be difficult. Any ideas welcome…
Our school timetable has changed this year and we have less time with our form groups – and we’re also expected to do some one to one mentoring in this time. As with the above, the amount I put into my form has dwindled. They don’t mind because this is my 7th year as their form tutor and we all know each other well, but there is more I can offer them. This is something else I can and will immediately address.
Staff band! We used to play every week, but we’ve all become so busy. There’ll be a school Stars In Their Eyes so maybe that’ll prompt us to get together more often? This has to happen.
We all take on too many things and one of mine – that I will continue to do – is leading on the coordination of the school’s overseas expeditions. I’ve done it before so I was happy to take the reigns, but I had to do so mid way through so it’s been a bit more difficult to develop. It does mean a month in Tanzania this summer doing project work and trekking so I’m onto a winner really!
What about me?
There’s such a lot happened professionally that I feel I’ve put far too much into that and too little into my own life. I’ve given less time to those around me, friends and my girlfriend, and there’s no doubt it has an impact. I’m not one to open up, and I won’t here, but my relationship of 3.5 years has ended (amongst other things, I’m certain work was a factor). It’s such a clichéd promise in these blogs, but working less and being with my friends more – for a beer, playing pool, cinema, whatever – is more important than ever. I don’t even know what positives have happened for me over the last year personally (professionally I’m pretty happy). How disastrous is that? I even blogged about it in May.
Here’s to a successful 2015 – professionally and personally!