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#nurture1314 : 2013 the year I stopped being an habitual underachiever. 2014, the year to remind myself that I was once the trouble-maker-at-large.

I was privileged to listen to Sally Gunnel, an Olympic Champion, speak at my school shortly before the Christmas break.  She spoke about the importance of setting goals and receiving feedback.  Even when she had obtained the pinnacle of her sport, she spoke about setting the goal to hold both Olympic and world titles at the same time.  I don’t pretend for one minute to put myself in the same league as Olympians, but teaching is a very cyclical job. It may not be every four years but we rev up and reach a crescendo in an annual cycle, and then set more goals.  For me, that’s what writing a reflection about the year is all about.  Setting goals and looking back.  After all, if we don;t know what we are good at, how can we continue?

I’ve enjoyed many of the #nurture1314 posts so far.  This one is going to be nowhere near as inspiring or heartfelt!  If you’re bored, you can always skip to the music and look at the images. I’m always surprised and chuffed when I receive a comment, tweet or email saying that something here has inspired them.  It may only be a handful a year, but the spine tingly feeling confirms that someone else can see thought the typos, poor grammar and rants!

Next a confession, at the moment I am having what could be considered a crisis of faith.  I remember that I gave in my notice during my NQT year, by October, determined that I was a crap teacher.  To be honest, I was.  I continued to be average for a little while, not really getting it.  It took an event in my personal life to turn me on into teaching.  It’s very strange not being good at my job at the moment, and I guess that’s another reason to knock this post out.

I’m also reminded why I started blogging.  For me – to provide a space and time for me to look back on what I’ve been up to.  Anything else is a bonus, but I don’t really care what you think.  You always have the option to stop reading.  I don’t consider myself an expert, in fact I see my job as making everyone else the experts.  Anyway, 2013 was an excellent year.  I’m a visual person ( as well as very vain!) and like to do things differently. First, two tune that are the soundtrack to me year. Make of them what you will (apologies for any adverts):

Next, the 13 images that sum up 2013.  Again, take it or leave it, I’ll elaborate below:

1. Running. In November my 4 year old son ran a 3km race with me.  How good is that?  I ran over 1000 miles in 2013 as well as taking part in my first marathon (in just over 4 hours).  I also ran four half marathons and a few other things like walking the 100km trailwalker.  I’ve lost weight and spent a fortune on new clothes, which is a good job I got a new job where I’m expected to wear a suit.

2. Mountains. I haven’t been the the mountains enough this year, however finishing my first Mountain Marathon with my good friend Alex was awesome.  Didn’t think I could have done it and have always wanted to take part. Will be back again this year.

3. Iceland. I love Iceland and got to go there three times in 2013.  The best visit was with my family, here my son is exploring.  In Iceland, children are welcome everywhere and everyone is able (in fact positively encouraged) to explore and do mad stuff.  Almost as good as Wales.

4. Marathon. Not only did I complete the Brighton marathon in just over 4 hours (a time that resulted in me immediately entering again), I was able to walk afterward and carry my son on my shoulders to the station.  Another running thing, but another aim I’ve held for years and years.  I can’t really emphasise how good running is for me.  It puts work into perspective – I can’t work, I have to run.  I don;t want to be someone who wishes I did when I could have.

5. BETT. Well, speaking and stuff in general. I’ve chosen BETT because for some reason the lovely people at Microsoft asked me to speak for the entire event, twice a day.  Also, it started a link with the National Schools Partnership after telling the story of Priory School’s BYOD policy. Now those were the days!  The Partners in Learning team and Microsoft Education are top people, and I’m looking forward to getting up to more this year.  The UK head of education even visited the department for the day.  I’ve also been honoured enough to be asked to speak at other events, the most enjoyable being #TLAB13, and not only because Wales snatched the 6 Nations championship from England’s grasp! Nick has really helped me out in 2013, even if he doesn’t realise how much! I still never believe that I’m asked to speak, as all I do is tell stories of the stuff I used to do in classrooms. 

6. RGS Ordnance Survey Award for Excellence in Geography Teaching. I got to meet Palin and see the very cool stuff locked away in the archives.  This was a huge achievement and marked the end of me being a real geography teacher.  There were other accolades, and I’m very proud that Priory Geography retained it’s GA Centre of Excellence status.

7.   TeachMeet Pompey. This continued to build.  A huge thanks to Phil and Jo. I’m really pleased that we have retained the informal atmosphere and kept commercialism out.  Holding the drinks reception on HMS Victory was awesome.

8. Iceland with Priory Geography. A totally perfect trip and possibly the last overseas visit as a teacher. 

9. Fieldwork. If you ask me what I missed the most during the Autumn term, it was the opportunity to teach whist standing on a beach wearing no shoes.  When I joined the department, there was no fieldwork.  The four trips to Hengistbury Head in 2013 were a highlight.

10. EcoChallenge. One of the first jobs I did as a new Head of Geography in 2008 was to say yes to a residential at Juniper Hall. The 2013, despite a few issues, was another amazing event, mainly thanks to Sam, Jo and JP.  The place holds a lot of memories after 5 trips and I’ll miss it.  It was also the time when I ran up Box Hill twice for a training run.  I’m also very proud of what the Priory Geography team achieved in 2013.  They had to work with me until July, which can;t have been easy.  The headline figures went up again for the 6th year in a row and the residuals decreased, well below National Average.  I’m also proud of what I was able to achieve when leading CPD for the school.  There is a lot that I’d improve, but it was an adventure.  It will be hard to work with a better bunch of people than Jo, Sam and JP.

11. An award for the Priory Mobile project. I’m including this as it was a nice touch after the project was so challenging and enjoyable to lead. It was also nuts that I travelled from Dorking to Manchester and back to pick it up!

12. Goldsmith’s Course. I got to go to the Met Office and Ordnance Survey offices and have a full fry up every morning with some top geographers.

13. Becoming an AHT. I’m not so good at this at the moment, but it was the right move.  At the moment I feel like I’m waiting for permission. I remember the days when I asked for forgiveness or fought my corner.

So, 2014?  Every year I wonder how I’ll top the previous twelve months.  I’m not going to set 14 goals. For one thing, I’d feel like a fraud.  The priorities can be summed up in this image:

2014-01-01 00.02.55

What I will be doing is challenging myself to make the most of my year as a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator. I can’t wait to work with Stu and a truly inspirational bunch of people, none of which take themselves to seriously. The work starts tomorrow in Cardiff.  I think that using technology better when appropriate does improve learning.  I’m going to try to get good at the SLT thing. Without wanting to bang on, I feel like the weakest link after being the strongest.  I’m going to attempt to give as much as I take from the education Twitter and blog areas.  And I’m going to run, put bands back together and achieve things that I can look back on and think, that wasn’t too bad.  There are,  some other goals and stuff but let’s see what the impact is.

2014? Time to start.

What's so fascinating and frustrating and great about life is that you're constantly starting over, all the time, and I love that.
Billy Crystal


  1. Found this interesting, David, and I do understand what you mean about moving from the teacher professional identity (you know what you're doing, you're an expert who can communicate passion for the subject you love) to the SLT identity (out of your comfort zone and faced with so much you can't anticipate or prepare for) but I'm pleased you say " it was the right move".

    Hope you're getting good mentoring/coaching from people you respect and who can see your potential and help you realise it. That, in addition to your own reflection and capacity to learn from experience, will get you there...

    Good luck for 2014 - hope it's a positive and productive year for you.


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