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#Nurture1415 . Where the personal and professional collide.

2014-12-29 07.59.50

‘Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.’ Salvador Dali.

You can find my Nurture 13/14 post here and what a difference a year makes.  When I read it, it seemed like a decade had passed rather than twelve months.  So, five highlights of 2014:

Running

Yesterday, I ran 18miles from my house, to the summit of the South Downs and back which took me to just over 1,200 miles run in 2014.  I also completed some races:

  • 10k Virtual Race
  • Longman 18.8 Miles
  • Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon
  • Virtual half marathon x2
  • Brighton Marathon
  • Bristol 10k
  • Trailblazer Bedgebury Forest Half Marathon
  • Worthing 10k
  • Lakeland Trails Marathon
  • Littlehampton 10k
  • RAB Mountain Marathon
  • Great South Run
  • Worthing seafront 10k
  • St Barnabas Santa Dash
  • Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
  • Boxing Day Virtual 10k

Running has helped me connect with friends; taken me to wild and wonderful places that I wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise and challenged me.  In addition, and this is the best bit, running continues to give me time to think; allows me to be a role model to my son and get away from work.  Teaching would be all consuming if given free reign. 

Geographical Association Conference 2014

2014-12-29 09.18.40

I’ve always been privileged to tell stories at a variety of places over the years. In 2014 I reengaged with the Geographical Association after a period of self-imposed exile.  I remember rocking up with my presentation almost finished, expecting to be directed to a room with a capacity of around 20-30.  Instead, I was given the main lecture theatre, the same place that Professor Iain Stewart and the GA’s president.  I told the story to over 200 people or so.  Made me realise how important geography is to me and its contribution to children’s education.   It also hammered home that in the continuity world of education secretary's, where change is the only constant, there seemed to be a need for my positive spin on things.  I don’t think that only applies to geography, the curriculum should be constantly evolving, just that the initiative should be on teachers and not politicians.

This was the moment I got my mojo back and perhaps planted the seed that I just want to make a difference.

Microsoft Expert Educator and Google Teacher Academy

It’s not at all about the tech, which is why these two events make the top five.  I got to go to Barcelona in 2014 with Microsoft. I’ve been involved with them since 2009 and I think that 2014 finally saw the company produce some potentially game changing technology.  During a year that seemed to be dominated by the new Holy Grail of educational research and mindset, it was great to connect with a truly inspirational teachers from across the world for some perspective.  Barcelona was focused on the learning.  A true highlight (and immensely difficult personal learning challenge) was working with a multi-national team to create an educational project in just two days.  Made even more difficult by the fact that two didn’t speak English and another taught in slum schools.  Indeed, the effect of looking outward has been to put into perspective how easy we have it within the UK educational system and for that I am grateful as it’s made me more positive and thankful about the job that I love doing.  There is a seed though that I need to be working somewhere harder.

Another technology event that challenged me was the Google Teacher Academy.  NoTosh invited me to become a mentor at this year’s event.  I said yes, although I admit to being sceptical after being subjected to the ‘fire hose of tools’ in 2010.  I wasn’t disappointed and left inspired, not with Google tools but with acting as a Googler and understanding that we have great potential.  I realised that workload issues and wellbeing are not unique to teaching, and that it’s time to get the chip off our collective shoulders.  That’s not to say that these aren’t important issues to tackle, just that the shouty way that some go about it (the #sltchat on workload being a prime example) is neither productive nor makes me proud of teachers in general.

“A fool is made more of a fool, when their mouth is more open than their mind.” Anthony Liccione

Indeed.  It was a year of filing away nuggets for when I am a Headteacher.

Exploring

IMG_2935About to risk assess the bridgeIMG_1957IMG_1642

What more is there to say?  Highlights have been teaching in the field again; exploring Iceland – a place that is special to me; a family road trip in northern France including finding some mad events and taking my son to the mountains.

Listening to Sally Gunnel

Working with the team at school has been fantastic and challenging.  Being involved in the plan to bring an Olympic Champion to talk about feedback. 

So what of 2015? 

It strikes me that what the Nurture 14/15 series of posts constitutes is a collection of manifestos.  With only five pledges to make, it makes it much harder so I’ve decided to use the New Economics Foundation’s Five Ways to Wellbeing, summed up by the John Muir Trust in this useful graphic. This seems like the natural progression from this post about well being.

image

Connect – In its tenth year, keep this blog on the side of justice; (re)connect with my family.

2015 will be the tenth year of this blog.  The first, short but sweet, post was made in December 2006.  I’ve never cared too much what other people think about what I write here: writing allows me to distil my thoughts.  It probably shows that most posts are written (after some reflection) without too much of a drafting process – I write what I think.  The main purpose is for me.  Perhaps this needs to change a little in 2015?  I’ve always tried to keep the voice of this space authentic and honest.  I’ve always tried to ensure that I am ‘walking the walk.’  These are the views of a practitioner – someone who is going through the system and trying to change it.  None of that is going to change, but perhaps this space should aim to be positive and take this into consideration:

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering
experience…

Baz Luhrmann Lyrics - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

I often skim the Guardian’s Secret Teacher and am always struck my two thoughts: it’s rather quite negative and devoid of practical suggestions and keep everything in perspective.  There are far worse things that can happen, although it’s all a matter of the baggage inside your personal, geographical, rucksack.

The fantastic thing about social media is that individuals are free to curate their own newsfeeds and ignore those voices that are antagonistic and unhelpful.  I don’t wish to fall into this category.  I aim to use Staffrm for more practical teaching tips, and this blog for more thoughtful pieces. I also need to finally get around to improving the platform, which may mean stumping up some cash.

On another note, my mother will turn 60 and one of my brothers will turn 30 in 2015.  I was far too neglectful of my family of two brothers, two sisters, mother and niece in 2014 and this is something that plays on my mind constantly. 

Be active – Take part in a microadventure every month; summit at least three new peaks  and complete at least one ultra marathon over 50km.

2014-12-28 09.01.35

I’ve been dipping in and out of Al Humphries’ Microadventures book and I have some planned with my family for 2015.  However, I also came across this post and challenge through a Facebook post and it seems the ultimate way to challenge myself and to connect with family, friends as well as seeing some new places.  There’s something quite liberating about somebody else setting the agenda!  I also want to climb some peaks that I haven’t before – this could be around a location familiar to me or in a new area – there are a few peaks in Scotland that I haven’t been to.

Finally, I will carry on running but start #projectultra. I have already signed up for the 55km Ultimate Trails Ultra and the Lakeland 50miler

Take Notice – Seek out and celebrate good practice more often.

Whether this be inside my school or further afield, I need to get better at finding good stuff.  I also need to seek out and take notice of contrasting viewpoints.  SLT has changed my perspective on teaching forever.  Time will tell whether that’s for the best or not.  What I do know, is that I would be successful in doing any job that I put my mind to, but I choose teaching.

I also need to understand how the decisions I make are perceived by others.  I’m never worried about being popular or keeping people happy, but I am intrigued how SLT effects workload.  I certainly never set out with the sole intention of making teachers’ lives pants.

I also need to be a little more patient.

Keep Learning -  be able to do something on the 31st December 2015 that I couldn't on the 1st January 2015.

This year I have enjoyed learning about phonics and helping my son to read confidently.  There is something to be said for seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. My job is a daily steep, and very enjoyable, learning curve, and there is plenty still to learn there.  In 2015 I plan to introduce my son to climbing and mountaineering, as well as summit his first ‘proper’ mountain.  I want to re-tune my navigational skills, but mainly I want to learn to do something I can’t do now.  No idea what that may be yet – perhaps you’d like to suggest something! Tweeting me is best @davidErogers.

I’ll be editing a book in 2015, and hope to write one of my own.  We shall see.

Give – Help curate TeachMeet #gaconf14 and #tmpompey; (re)engage with the Geographical Association

2014 saw a dip in #tmpompey.  I know that TeachMeets have their critics, however they are a platform to celebrate new voices.  It doesn’t matter that there may be nothing new that is said, what’s important is that the campfire is stoked to allow new voices to tell their stories of success.  That for me is the best thing about a TeachMeet – listening to the stories of new voices.  They are refreshing from the echo-chambers.  In 2015, I will focus upon two TeachMeets: the first ever at a Geographical Association conference and the original TeachMeet Pompey.  I’ve been made a Microsoft Innovative Fellow this year – and I want my school to become a leading light in the use of technology to aid learning (including the most important job of making life easier for teachers), I want to take a lead role.

I also plan to continue to reengage withe the Geographical Association, mainly through the work of the ICT working group.  I also need to continue the work I do through the Royal Geographical Society’s Education Committee.

Finally, it would be good to balance this with some healthy family related volunteering, either with the Scouting association or something else.  There’s a nagging thing in my mind about organising a school’s expedition to somewhere mental too. 

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