Tough but rewarding year…

Ok, ok – I apologise. I have not blogged for a long time. There are various reasons but I know it is no excuse. It has been important to spend time at home, supporting my wife, who has suffered from an illness for period of time since 2013. I am pleased to say she is much better now.

I am very ambitious and have a clear idea and goal of where I want to go with my career – perhaps I am too obsessed with my goal?

‘Obsessed is what the lazy call the dedicated’

I have applied for a number of roles at senior leadership level during the last 18 months. I have now secured a post at my current school which fits my expertise and skill set perfectly. A huge success for me personally. Everything on the job description excites me, I still get to teach ( a lot!) and I am heavily involved with working closely with colleagues and developing teaching and learning – #mint.

I visited The Sunday Times Festival of Education last week and was blown away by the event and quality of speakers. I saw my good friend @KDWScience at the event and she inspired my to write about the journey I have been on over the last 12 months – so here it is.

At this point, I would like to say thank you to the following for supporting me on my journey so far. My wife and family, obviously, but also @jillberry102 @TeamTait @TeacherToolkit @vicgoddard and the Principal at my college – for the opportunity.

I was applying for various posts from September 2014 onwards. I was not being called for interviews and sought help from various sources including the above. I adapted my letter and kept applying. A role arose at my current school, which I went for. I was up against 3 quality staff members. I prepared well and tried my very best, and was very disappointed not to land the role. Feedback was very positive but the pain of missing out was really tough. Perhaps it is the competitive PE teacher in me, or the feeling of being a failure – but it did really hurt. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong or what I could do next – my feedback was very positive. In hindsight, the role did not match my skill set. And even though I believe I could do that role, my colleague and friend who secured the post, has greater experience and knowledge of that specific role. He was and is the right person for the role advertised.

It was demoralising, but supportive colleagues and friends, and a professional discussion from my seniors made me reflect and focus on the future. If I was serious about my goals and targets, I had to pick myself up and carry on moving forward:

MLK

I refocused and made sure I did an outstanding job in my current role. In addition, I picked up a Pupil Champion role to lead on Homework across the college. An area which I had never done before and would allow me gain further experience at a whole school level. I was asked if I would lead on the new Learning to Learn programme our college is starting in September 2015. My passion is teaching and learning and I was (and still am) very excited about this opportunity. It felt great to be approached and recognised as a member of staff that the leadership team felt they could trust with these two areas.

A few weeks on and I had secured an interview at another school. I felt very confident, but after a day and a half of a very tough process, I did not make it through to the final three. I think what I learned from this process was that you just don’t know what schools are looking for. There were eight of us on interview and I identified three others who I thought were strong. Two of the three went through to the final three but the post was secured by neither of them. For me, I learnt that you just had to be who you are whilst on interview, and if you fit, you fit.

Over the next few months I kept working hard and made sure I did my job to the best of my abilities. I also worked hard to make a success of the Pupil Champion role. Whilst we have developed homework and it has improved, there is still lots to do further, but the impact of using a new system and a refined policy has been high.

In late May, came an opportunity that would fit me, my skill set and where I am in my career. I had been told by a number of people that sometimes, you just have to be the right person, in the right place and the right time. I never liked this thought – I always believe in working hard and your time will come, but I found it tough that it was not happening on the time frame I had set myself.

I secured an Associate SLT post alongside some fantastic staff and this post and opportunity really excites me. It feels right too. I am so pleased – I always felt I had the ability to get to this level, and go on further, but just could not make the step. I have found it tough, but as a Growth Mindset fan, it was a case that I had to keep myself focused and moving forward, my time will come and I will get the right post, at the right time. I certainly feel like that now. The Power of Yet suddenly made sense.

If anyone reads this blog who is attempting to move to a new level with their careers my only advice is… never give up. It sounds cliche, it was advice given to me that was difficult to take and wait, but always work hard, and your time will come.

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My first Teachmeet – WOW!

WOW, WOW and WOW! I have always loved new teaching and learning techniques, my own personal love for learning, but last week fuelled my learning juices even more so. I attended, and presented, at my first Teachmeet. I had followed various ones of these free CPD sessions via Twitter (THE best FREE CPD platform in my opinion).

The chance to attend and present at one near me was too good a chance to turn down.

Lets deal with my presentation first. I was not sure what to present on, so stuck to my tried and tested ‘foundation’s of my teaching. My nuts and bolts that I rely on for consistently good lessons that have helped produce outstanding results over the last 6 years.

The Memory Game

 

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Students work in buddies (seating plans and selected buddies are key) to complete the mind map. The information they require is attached to a wall (or window in this case). The buddies take it in turns to leave the room to look at the information. They have to remember it and write it into the correct area of the map. As they return to the room, they discuss with their partner what they have done so the partner does not memorise the same section. The students really like this strategy, but only one memory game per lesson. They last about 10-15 minutes, but are very active and effective. Students make very good notes alongside developing memory skills.

I also presented on card sorts, Exam Grade Boosting and using Edmodo.

TeachMeet Taunton

Organised and led by @MrBAyres, the sessions was brilliant. Incredibly well organised, great venue with some amazing food. The students at the school were exceptional. The evening started and I was not sure what to expect. I was nervous about my presentation – ‘were the techniques I was talking about what people wanted to hear?’

I should not have worried. The presenters were fantastic- all offering different and varied techniques, strategies and information on different aspects of learning and teaching. Pastoral issues were covered alongside technology use, such as ipads, Touchcast, Tellagami (now a personal favourite!).

Twitter handles were exchanged and the feedback that @MrBAyres received from the evening was truly deserved. I have made 3 or 4 really good contacts with people whom see very like minded; whom want to learn from others, share their good practice and further develop their teaching. @mr_pepperell and @MrHistoire are certainly worth a follow. These 3 gentlemen have already had a major influence on developing my teaching further in the last 7 days.

Advice I have received from @unicorn4275 has also improved my teaching  repertoire through the purchase of reusable post its and magic blackboard Рa must for any teacher without a classroom base. (www.magicwhiteboard.com)

@MrHistoire and I are now working together to setup a teachmeet in North Devon – keep an eye out for it!

After the #TMTaunton, I feel inspired to attend more of these and collaborate with more staff – the ideas out there are brilliant, and I want to be part of that.

If you get a chance, do attend one. Present too – you won’t regret it.

Finally, well done @MrBAyres – a fantastic and inspirational evening. Pencil me for next year now!

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