I’ve read a number of Nurture 13/14 blogs, and loved them all – some great reflections on the year just gone and the year ahead. So, here’s my contribution to the pile.
13 Successes of 2013
1. Joining twitter as a teacher – I’ve had a personal account for a little while, and never quite got the point. Then I found out about the whole teaching ‘thing’ on twitter, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve arranged for trials of new resources, set up a skype link with another class and generally been enthused and inspired. I’m excited for the impact it has had and will have on my teaching.
2. Shepherding two dear children through the very sudden death of their father – not my own children, I hasten to add, but a friend’s. It’s been intensely traumatic as the children are only 7 and 9, but I am so so proud of them – their mother and I have worked so hard to keep them going and to help them cope. They were both able to speak at his funeral, and even though going with them to buy Christmas cards for daddy and then take them to the cemetery, with mum, on Christmas day was almost more than I could bear, I’m proud that we were all able to manage it.
3. Getting a grip on an incredibly difficult class. I feel like I talk a lot about my current bunch of year 3s, and they are hard work – but they’re also brilliantly hard workers. In return they demand unceasing hard work from me, and in a slightly masochistic kind of way, I love it. I feel incredibly engaged in what I’m doing – I have to be, to get anywhere with this lot.
4. The birth of my second nephew. He was over a week late, so my planned visit to a 2-week old ended up being only a day or so after his birth. Amazing.
5. Getting better at keeping on top of my life, in terms of teaching paperwork. Keeping up with planning and marking has made such a difference, and led to better outcomes for the kids, I think. It’s tough to plan a day at a time, but I feel like I’m responding more to what they need, and not moving on until they’ve ‘got it’. Again, hard work, but worth it.
6. Advocating for what my class need from the wider school community – essentially, more structure, all the time. It’s taken a while to get through, but I think others are starting to get it, and to see the results of giving them what they need, i.e. they behave better and take up less of our collective time.
7. Starting to get to grips with the new curriculum. I’m sort of stumbling my way through some of it, but getting on with it is really the only way to go. Parts of it are tricky, others less so.
8. Getting better at keeping on top of my life, in a more general sense. This term has demanded a lot of me, mentally and emotionally so I’ve had to be quite strict with myself about bedtimes and food. It’s working. Routine, routine, routine.
9. Having a great time at our work’s Christmas do. This one might seem a bit silly, but I find social occasions really tricky, and was utterly miserable at the 2012 party, so was slightly dreading this years. End result: best night out for a long time.
10. A great year with the Guide unit I run. Things got a bit rocky in the second half of the summer term, due to the sudden death mentioned above, but the girls have stuck with me, and we’re back on track with a great little group now.
11. Getting better at saying ‘no’. Still need to work on this, but I’ve been better at saying “no, I can’t come to that meeting/ event/ party, because I need some downtime.” Again, better self-care.
12. Reading more. This has only been in the past few weeks, as I’ve been without a laptop (lent to a friend following a break in), but it was a revelation. Having time and opportunity to sit with a book was awesome. It must continue (i.e. I need to switch the computer off sometimes!).
13. Growing in my faith. In the midst of so much difficulty this year, God really has been an anchor in the storm.
14 Hopes/ Wishes/ Aspirations for 2014.
1. To continue to be involved with twitter/ blogging. Aim to tweet every day? Blog at least once a week? Not sure what will work for me yet, but I’ve started, and it’s been awesome so I definitely want to keep it up.
2. I’d love to develop my use of marking and feedback. I’m not really too sure how this will work with a tricky class, or with Year 3s in general. I like ideas that I’ve read about ‘responsive teaching’ – that my marking and assessment needs to feed into my lesson planning – and I’ve been working hard on this over the past term. I still feel that there’s more to be done here though, but I need to work out how to do this with young children. Anyone with any advice/ strategies that have worked is very welcome to get in touch!
3. I need to continue to work on behaviour strategies for a few key individuals. We’re getting there, but again, there’s room to improve.
4. More social skills teaching. So many of my class need this, and I need to figure out how to incorporate it on a regular basis.
5. Continue to look after myself well. A lot of the changes I’ve made this term have helped. Now I need to maintain those, and see what else I can do to improve my wellbeing.
6. Attend a teachmeet.
7. Get back into daily reflections – I did it for a few weeks, noting the pluses and minuses of my day, and what to work on tomorrow. It was great, but then it fell by the wayside. I’ve wondered about tweeting these, as a picture of what I’ve written – it’s writing it in a sufficiently depersonalised way that’s tricky. We’ll see.
8. Develop a good daily pattern of prayer. I’ve tried so many different things – I think the key is to pick one and flipping well stick at it for more than 2 weeks.
9. See family more. I haven’t made it to my parents at all this past year (although in my defence they’ve been down south a lot more than usual), and I love weekends with my grandparents so much.
10. Look after things at church successfully – our vicar is on sabbatical for the first 3 months of the year, and as one of the churchwardens, I’m half in charge, including leading family worship.
11. Enjoy a holiday to Kenya. I’m going with the family I mentioned above, to visit their extended family and hold a memorial service, and we’re also fitting in some time at the beach in Mombasa. Yes, it will be awesome, but I am terrified. I don’t really ‘do’ travelling (or I haven’t for the last 10 years or so), and I’ve only flown once in my life before. This is a huge thing for me to be doing, and I just hope it goes well, and I actually enjoy it.
12. Clear out my flat. I have an ongoing desire to have less stuff and to live simply. Now I need to put my words into action.
13. Drink more tea. I used to have a major love affair with all sorts of different teas, and I’d love to rekindle that.
14. Be the best teacher I can be.