New Year, New You?

I don’t think so.

Ringing in the New Year in Barcelona

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. I find they add to, rather than relieve, my stress levels and that niggling sense of self-doubt and failure (what is it with us always doing ourselves down? I know I’m doing it and yet I get incredibly cross at myself when things go wrong – even when those things are beyond my control). However, January does seem to provide a time for reflection. This year I feel a bit strange about reflecting. While everyone else is going back to work I’m at home with a 3 month old. I have had a strange sense of mis-placed identity this past week: ‘oh… playing mother is just going to carry on’. And I’m feeling that the initial energy burst I had in the lead up to the new year has been somewhat deflated as friends and colleagues post ‘back to school/ work’ related items on social media.

In lieu of a going back to work post, I’m going to use this post to reflect on what I would like to continue doing this year and take forward when I do return to work:

  1. Asking after my colleagues’ babies/ children. This is one simple way to help encourage a family friendly approach to working in your school/ work place. Emma Sheppard of MTPT Project is conducting really important research on parent teachers and family friendly approaches to schools: “If teaching is not ‘family friendly’, then it’s not ‘anyone’ friendly – teachers deserve a life outside of school whether this be to enjoy time with family, to go to the gym, to travel or to watch entire boxsets on Netflix.”
  2. Using twitter as a place for collaboration. Whether this be through my work as representative and social media secretary at MTPT Project, including monthly #MTPTchat; using and contributing to resources, specifically @Team_English1; or participating in @crowded_shelf monthly book club twitter chats.
  3. Reading for pleasure. Since starting my maternity leave I have done what I consider to be a lot of reading across of a range of genres and texts. Whilst doing my PhD and the past few years as a teacher I’ve found reading a difficult and, sometimes, laborious, process (even though I love it!). At the end of a long day/ week of reading academic texts, editing your own academic writing, marking essays or re-reading essential texts for the classroom, snuggling down to read can be exhausting. Not sure I’m quite ready for a #52booksayear challenge, but setting aside time and space to enjoy reading is really important.
  4. Getting outside. I’ve made a real effort since starting maternity leave to get out and about everyday. There have been times when this hasn’t happened (and I’ve normally felt rubbish  – and baby has seemed more fretful – as a result). I know this is going to be harder to achieve once I’m back at work with shorter daylight hours, but I will try. The photographs I’ve taken are fun to look back over and can be used to support classroom practice (see my page The Picture Frame).
  5. Collating CPD effectively. One thing taking part in the MTPT Project Accreditation scheme has taught me is remembering to capture my CPD experiences. I have always thought of CPD as a very broad umbrella term for what teachers and educators do as an integral part of their jobs. It goes far beyond the formal CPD training days or INSET days that are often given the label. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the formal modes of CPD mentioned above are some of the least helpful and/or effective modes of developing your professional practice. Maybe that’s just me, but I’ve seen some interesting things on twitter that suggest otherwise. As I’ve becoming more reliable on technology as a space for recording and noting down what I’m up to, it’s struck me how busy I am and how much of what I’m doing, and enjoy doing (reading, visiting galleries, walking, going to the theatre – alas these days are more limited now) is rich in the impact it has on my development as a teacher and a leader. My reliance on technology has also encouraged me to be more organised with my filing systems. Rather than just dumping things into my google drive, it goes into a neatly categorised file. This blog is also a space I can articulate the impact of my CPD on my professional practice.
  6. Continue travelling. Over the past few years I’ve been privileged enough to visit many places (at home and abroad). These places have taught me so much. I want to keep doing this.

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