When I sat down to write this blog post I felt that my 2015 wasn't as busy as previous years (especially 2013), but it seems that I have still been busy.
The greatest defining points of my year have again revolved around my husband. I am just used to calling him that as we have now had our first wedding anniversary. Of course on the actual date he was cycling!
: In the summer Richard cycled 1000km in 87 hours (three of them sleeping) from Paris to Brest and back with thousands of other randoners. He absolutely loved it.
2. New job:
The main cloud hanging over us this year has been Richard's job. In the spring he was put in a position where his only option was to resign without a job to go to. However, he has a new job and is a lot happier and making good headway with very challenging students.
But the whole experience has been crushing on my opinion on the people involved in education. I naively thought of teaching as a job for life, but now heads are now able to give a couple of observations and destroy 25 years of a career that you thought you were good at and don't expect your colleagues or union to be able to support you.
I fear to go back and work in the state sector. To see so many good and hard working colleagues fall is heartbreaking and I don't want a part of it.
3. Curriculum change
: My job is defined by the changes that are going on at the moment. After the October half term I had a real wobble about the new GCSE and the amount of work it will create for me.
I am still not confident about the way that we are recording the practical endorsement and the quicker someone comes to see the better. We're doing the practical activities so I know that even if we get a slapped wrist or have to make changes the students won't be disadvantaged. However, I am happy about the opportunity to reflect on A-level. I would really like another couple of years to iron out the changes that are happening at A-level before the GCSE changes start
We still have work to do on key stage 3, but the students in Year 8 are very positive about science lessons. I fear that key stage 3 - the most important key stage will be neglected because of the impatience of politicians.
At key stage 2 I am delighted with the scheme we are using from collins. It takes a very long time to prepare lessons, but the ideas are excellent, the students love the lessons and I feel like I am doing a good job when I teach these lessons. I just wish I had more free time so I could prepare all my lessons so well.
4. GCSE and A-level results
: Again I was delighted with our GCSE results. The A-level results were got on the back of an awful lot of hard work and determination on behalf of the students. They got into the universities they wanted to and are content in their courses. I am very proud.
: As a department we have been using kerboodle with key stage 3 and it seems to becoming more and more part of our practice. There are a few girls still struggling, but they are in the minority and as a staff we are getting to grips with all the things it can do. Using iPads in lessons is reaching a peak now and it's 'newness' is wearing off on me. I find it frustrating when students don't bring their devices, can't remember passwords or can't connect to the WiFi properly. I have hit a wall and don't know if I want to break it down when I also have all the curriculum change hanging over us.
I have been given a bigger insight into the workings of the drama department this year. Drama and music are very important to the girls at my school. Last year the production was the Wizard of Oz and because I like to wear red shoes at work I jokingly became the witch that gets squashed under the house for one night of the production. It was interesting to help back stage and see how the cast work together to give us a show. My tutee was Dorothy in the show too. In the summer I helped with the lighting of the play that the drama department took to the Fringe in Edinburgh. Getting to see so many shows and seeing behind the scenes at the fringe was a fantastic experience.
This involvement is partly of my own doing as I try and increase my own knowledge of different areas of the school. If I am to have a whole school responsibility down the road, then I want to be able to have a degree of understanding for other colleagues in other areas of the school. Of course it is also because I love supporting my colleagues.
: This year I have been to Edinburgh with the Drama department, Weston-Super-Mare and Bath with the Geography department, Cardiff to hear a lecture about Einstein with the A-level scientists, Bristol for the IoP festival of physics with the Y13 physicists, and Thorpe Park with a mixture of students for a great day out. Again we went to see Team Bath play netball and I took a group of Y11 to tour the Krispie Kreme doughnut factory in Bristol. I got the school outside to see the solar eclipse, we had the space odyssey dome in to give shows to the students. In enrichment week the students took the squashed tomato challenge. Year 6 came second in the Great Bug Hunt and completed enough experiments to qualify for a Crest Mega Star Award.
I have been very lucky over the last 12 months to have two amazing groups of tutees. Working with them is a great
9. GCSE Classics:
Esther completed here Classics GCSE a year early and got an A*. Relived and proud are the two emotions. She has set her sights on Oxbridge, so the GCSEs need to be good.
10. CPD, MOOCs and conferences
: The year always starts with the ASE conference, which makes going back in January a very positive experience. Speaking to Chris Colclough about being a head of science was extremely useful. Seeing great friends and getting lots of inspiration is the main reason to go to the conference. I don't think that I made the most of last year's ASE conference, but I still took a lot away. I went to two teachmeets and organised another; I always love these events because of their atmosphere and positivity. The iPad training day from Rachel Jones' school KEVI that I went to with a couple of colleagues was brilliant. I also attended Research Ed in September and was able to speak to Nick Gibb, and presented at Teaching and Learning Takeover 15. I also helped organise our own ASE conference in Bath.
The AfL MOOC from future learn, the SLC and Sheffield University was brilliant. Taking place over a period of weeks meant that my practice was changed much more effectively than just attending an event. The live Q&A with Chris Harrison was very good; there is so much to be learned from those people in universities who study education and being able to ask about AfL was very useful.
The CPD highlight though was the ASE professional learning conference. Shirley Simon's talk was a real inspiration to me and it was a real treat to hear Jonathan Osborne speak. Paul Black and I exchanged words! Hearing Brian Cartwright was very useful and I can only describe Andrew Carter as an 'interesting' character. It was great to meet Andrea, Katrina, Bryony, Helen and see Pete, Liz, Chris and Stuart.
: One of my aims was to add more purpose to my writing. I have written a lot during the course of the year, but I haven't published much of it at all. I don't want to get into arguments. I am not all the knowledgeable about education, I only know my own classroom and some of what goes on in that of my colleagues. I don't know enough to be an expert. More than that though I don't want to get into an argument and have to spend a great proportion of time defending my position. I would expect some people not to agree or understand my position, but it makes me nervous that some people appear to not want to let others have their opinion based on their own experiences. I don't want to be part of that, so I fly below the radar thank you. (Actually more about time than not feeling strongly about something and the curriculum change is overwhelming me emotionally).
: In the summer I sorted out all the accumulated rubbish we had in the spare room. It seems that we had an awful lot more paper and plastic wallets than I thought and a large number of ethernet cables 'just in case'. Several 'very useful boxes' and trips to the dump later and we are at least able to get in there! Next step is to get into the loft and put some boards down so I get move some old CDs and books Richard refuses to art with up there.
13. Event at Westonbirt
: This was one of the aims for last year. I will do a teaching and learning team party in the spring I think. It would be lovely to have a small gathering in the library at school with some cake. (The library is a wonderful room).
14. Shaun the Sheep and friends:
After finding all the Gromit statues in 2013 we decided to do the same with the Shaun this year. Richard and I went to London and found all 50 there in one day. We walked a marathon that day. Then Lucie and Abi helped us find all the Shaun's in Bristol. It was a great excuse to catch up. It was also brilliant to meet Karen in Exeter for some black Friday weekend sale shopping.
15. Holidays and breaks
: I make it my mission to get away and see as much of the UK (I can't afford the world) as we can. This year we had a day out in Oxford and London, went to the Brecon Beacons for a few days, visited Lincolnshire, Northumberland, had a day in Hull, Swansea and Minehead. My brother has bought me a scratch map of the Uk so I can make a record of where we have been.
The year ahead:
To be honest I don't have many plans that haven't a;ready been set in motion by things that have happened this year.
Esther's GCSEs feature heavily and hoping that Richard can get a permanent job. Although no teaching job will ever feel permanent again.
I really want a foreign holiday and we're thinking about visiting the North West when we book our cheep caravan holiday. The Olympic Games will feature heavily in my summer holiday plans.
I am still thinking about preparing myself for management and I want to aim my personal CPD to that. However, I think that it is unlikely I will find anything because school are not advertising for assistant head teachers externally. Budgets and MATS are the reasons I would imagine. However, I still enjoy working at my school and the curriculum changes present me with more than enough challenges!
So mainly next year is about dealing with the changes to the curriculum and trying to get the best possible outcome from them for our students.