Since I started blogging a couple of years back, I’ve often been reflective in what I write and having loved so many of the wonderful
#Nurture1314 posts, I decided to do my own. Now what usually comes easy to me has been quite difficult here… it’s been a very tough year for me professionally and I wasn’t sure that I could scrape together 13 things that I was really proud of. 14 things I’d like to achieve in 2014 was easier, as there are a lot of things I can do better.
Anyway, here goes…
1. I consider myself blessed. 10 years ago my career was going nowhere fast, at an alarmingly fast rate, when I met my wife Claire (also known as @wclou) and things changed pretty dramatically. All that I’ve been able to achieve has been as a result of her belief in me and her sacrifices so that my commitments to work always seem to come before hers. Whenever the calls come from Ofsted (more on them later) and I have to stay at school until the wee small hours or go away from home on a course at the last minute, it is Claire who is at home with the kids making sure that everything is as it should be – before doing her own planning and marking (we work in the same school.)
I don’t tell her this enough, so I’ll say it here in front of the whole world… in the words of Placebo, “Without You, I’m Nothing”.
2. The second reason I’m blessed is that I have two wonderful children who make everything in life that little bit less serious. There is nothing to compare to having had the very worst day at work and then walking through the door to be leapt upon and told all about their day at school or whatever craziness is in their heads. Pretending to be a dinosaur or a prince or reading a story with them, is the perfect antidote to the nonsense of targets, observations or whatever else gets in the way of reality when I have to work. They keep me grounded in a way that nothing else could and I cherish every moment I get to spend with Niamh and Ruaridh – again, those moments are never enough.
3. Which is why I love the holidays so much.
4. My relationship with my father has changed over the last few years. While my mum was alive, he was a man of few words and I knew very little about his life or what made him tick. My mother died in 2007 and since then we have become very close and his life has totally transfromed. Last year for Christmas, he bought my children a goat – now this was not an animal that came to our house, but a goat which was given to a family in Africa through Oxfam and was sponsored by Niamh and Ruaridh. They thought it was the best thing ever! At the age of 76 he made his first trip to Australia to visit my brother – he’s now been three times, he travelled to Barcelona because he wanted to – he’s also been three times, and he visits us here on the Isle of Wight at least twice a year. He’s now 82 and I’ve learned more about him in the past six years than I had done in my previous 38! I don’t know how much longer either of us will have on this earth, but I grew up listening to friends saying that they’d hate to turn into their parents… If I were to be half the man he is, with the wit, wisdom and generosity of spirit, then I could not be happier or more proud.
5. I love sport – this is another thing that my wife has to endure. 2013 is the first year in my memory where I didn’t see my beloved Celtic in the flesh. Instead I spent my time going to watch cricket in the summer. Now a word of caution, if you’re a fan of English cricket, then skip the rest of this section… I saw three days of fantastic cricket this year and supported the ‘away’ side each time, and yes each day the ‘away’ side thrashed England. First it was New Zealand at Southampton with the wonderful Martin Guptil, then that biggie, an Ashes Test Match at the Oval where Shane Watson took centre stage, before the awesome Aaron Finch took the bowlers apart in a T20 in Southampton. Now I’m not anti-English at all, quite rare for a Scot I know, but I got into cricket through watching Warne, McGrath and Steve Waugh in the 90’s so I’ve always had a soft spot for the Aussies, plus my brother has been out there for 17 years now and he’d kick my arse if I didn’t support his adopted country! A dream come true.
6. I can’t remember where I read it, but someone suggested that to make sure you read every day, lock your phone/tablet/laptop in another room and sit down and give yourself space to get lost in a book for half an hour each day and you’ll be amazed at just how much you get through in a week. That was one of my resolutions which I kept this year and I’m so glad I did. I’ve read a lot this year and it’s improved my practice no end. It’s also made me fall in love with fiction again (Waterstones have expressed their delight with this though my bank manager is somewhat less impressed!) and I now read frequently when my kids are in the room… what could be better than seeing daddy reading his own book?
7. Teaching. I love my job. It’s just magic and I hope I never fall out of love with it. I’m very lucky in this and I don’t take it for granted as there have been some very dark times in the past, but each day is different and if I do fall out of love then I hope I’m brave enough to move on or leave.
8. I love my current Year 11 class. They are one of those groups who come along every five years or so who just knock your socks off every day. Such character and such spirit. They are up for trying anything knew and have a great collective sense of wit as well. I’m very lucky to have another six months with them!
9. It’s hard being in a school which is in Special Measures. You’d have to be in it to know what the constant scrutiny is and the relentless pressure. It doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the job, but there are times when it seems like your best just isn’t good enough and everyone is waiting in line to give you a kicking. I almost walked away this summer – in fact I’d signed on the dotted line somewhere else – before changing my mind and sticking with the task. Ofsted had returned for their 2nd Monitoring visit and we had made a big improvement and I wanted to be a part of the continued progress… which is down to the hard work of the whole teaching staff at the school. I don’t regret my decision at all (I do feel bad about letting the other school down) and am happy where I am now and looking forward to the continuing challenge ahead.
10. I actually completed the Tribal Inspection Skills Training alongside my Head of School this term. It was an excellent course and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would really like to be an Ofsted inspector, if the remit was more about support and less about judgement, but sadly I can’t as I work in a ‘category’ school. The irony of this is that I probably have a much better knowledge of Inspections, and what goes on during them, than most other trainees!!
11. We held two TeachMeets at Cowes this year and I was immensely proud of our staff at both. The first one was an internal CPD session, where 14 members of staff, many who’ve never spoken before in this setting, got up to give their time on a variety of topics. It was immense and was the one moment I was most proud of in this difficult year at Cowes. The 2nd Teachmeet was more traditional and a thing of beauty with our inspiring guest speaker @davidfawcett27 kicking things off in style. The response was superb.
12. I had the opportunity to visit Canons High School this month to spend a day with their Pedagogy Leaders. All I can say is ‘wow!’ It would not do it justice to say that the school is inspiring. No daft ideas. No knee-jerk reactions. Just common sense and embedding one thing at a time… there’s a lesson in that somewhere! The day blew me away and I can’t speak highly enough of the wonderful staff who gave their time to us that day, but special mention must go to @kevbartle who is a humble, humorous and endlessly generous man. The school where he eventually becomes Headteacher will be very fortunate indeed.
13. On a purely personal professional level, the thing that I’m most proud of was my involvement in TLT13. When @davidfawcett27 asked me to do the closing speech sometime last year I thought ‘that sounds like fun’. Little did I know that the little conference that he and the wonderful @MissJLud were putting together would end up with 200-plus attendees. David later asked me how long it had taken me to write my speech… I began in the summer holidays as I stood in front of that Salvador Dali painting and read that quotation again in Glasgow – so, all together, about three months! Standing in front of all those people was humbling as there were so many of my twitter idols in the room. People I had conversed with more than my brothers in the previous year, yet never met! I loved every moment of it and was delighted by the reaction after it was all over. I was blessed to have been given the opportunity.
So there you have it. 2013, the year the sea roared for me and I learned some important lessons.
What does 2014 have in store? Well, here goes…
1. Be a better husband to my wonderful wife, Claire.
2. Spend more time with my beautiful children, Niamh and Ruaridh.
3. Be part of the team which helps to move the school out of Special Measures – who knows, there might be a book in there somewhere if any publishers are interested ;-).
4. Play an important role in the new academy – yep, the other part of being in Special Measures is that you ‘get to become’ an Academy!
5. Put my money where my mouth is and apply for NPQH and be the sort of Leader I want to be in the World – inspired by Vic and John, of course!
6. Go to Warner Brothers Studios London. As a Harry Potter nut this has to be done, so Claire and I are off next week 🙂
7. Implement sensible programmes for improvement of Teaching and Learning which don’t cause any more needless stress to our team.
8. Enjoy the Commonwealth Games – we have tickets for the swimming as a family and I’m so excited as it’s in my glorious hometown.
9. See some live music. Last year was the first time that I didn’t see a live band and that needs to be rectified soon.
10. Keep reading everyday regardless of all the other stuff.
11. Visit my dad at least twice this year and phone him as much as I can.
12. Switch off from work so that I can enjoy the time I have with other people, especially my family.
13. Take myself a little bit less seriously – remember Doherty, don’t get ideas above yer station!
14. Love the art of teaching as much as I possibly can and stay positive when all the **** gets a bit much.
So there you go, I got to 14 and on that note, I’ll leave you with a song, and a great one it is too…