This is my first Nurture review, although it has been a common thing for tweeters and bloggers alike for the last three years. I guess you could say I a little late coming to the party but better late than never! The idea has been slimmed down and simplified for 2015. 5 super things that happened in 2014 and 5 hopes for 2015. So, onto the review of 2014…
1. Stress survival
This year has most definitely been one for managing or not managing my stress levels. There were times in the year that were really tough and forced me to doubt myself and my abilities as a middle leader, but as I sit here typing away I am 100% certain that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. No doubts, no worries. The biggest lesson I learned was that no matter how stressful things get, I can do it!
2. Team PE and the support network
Team PE has evolved in all sorts of ways this year and we’re stronger than ever. An almost complete new look from a year ago but it’s not the look that matters, it’s the feel. The vibe/buzz/culture is evolving into one of support and collaboration. Are we there yet? Hell no, but at least we’re heading in the right direction. But it’s not just the colleagues in the department that are fab and supportive in all kinds of ways. I know and appreciate massively the wider support network I have in school. There is always a person who can advise me on a particular problem or if they don’t have a solution, they know someone who might. From the big bosses that ask all the right questions to challenge me in the right way to the incredible people who tolerate my rants, make me a cup of tea and tell me how it is when I need telling. I am grateful.
3. Line management change
It’s amazing the power and momentum that can be harnessed from one small change. This is not to say that my previous line manager was not supportive, they were very much so, but there are some people in the world that you professionally click with. My current line manager is just that. We think in the same way, have common interests and are not afraid to be honest with each other. It feels more like a collaboration than a ‘guide me in the right direction, kind of relationship. It has inspired me to simply be the best I can be whilst staying in the real world.
4. Twitter CPD
Wow! I was late in coming to the Twitter party (recurring theme) but not as late as the many PE teachers who still haven’t twigged on. It is by far the best place to find inspiration when your short of ideas and just keep up to date with what’s happening with the world. It is hard to keep up with the Tweachers (as I call the Tweeting teachers) but well worth the time and effort to keep your practice fresh and inspire new ideas.
5. The students
Ok, so it may seem a little cheesy to put them on the list or some may question why they’ve only appeared at No. 5 as almost an afterthought but a) there is no deliberate rank order to my list and b) they should appear on every teachers list. If you’re having a bad day, feeling under the weather or just not in a good mood one small but massively lovely student can change all of that in a heart beat. They may finally master hitting the shuttle over the net, perform their shoulder stand with pointed toes or just say a simple thank you but it’s the small things that matter. Yes, they can be challenging at times (many, many times!) but if a 16 year old boy stops you on his way out of school on the last day of term just to wish you a Happy Christmas you know you must doing something right.
So what of 2015? Here are my hopes…
A) To give back to the Twitter and blogging community
Ever since I joined Twitter I have felt a certain amount of guilt at my voyeuristic one way relationship with PE and teaching community out there. I would frequently visit websites and steal ideas from photos posted on Twitter and blogs written during a hectic time in the term (when is there a non-hectic time?!) but I would never give back. I guess there was a part of me that thought what could they possibly learn from me/who would be interested in what I have to say? A bit like the people who constantly update their status on Facebook just to tell you what type of biscuit they’re dunking in their tea today. And there is a risk that the fear will become the reality but it’s time to take that risk, share a few ideas on here and via @PEteachAbbey tweets and give back a little.
B) To build an even better team
Like I said, team PE are not quite there yet but nore do I believe that they will ever be ‘there’. Growth and development are all about the journey not the destination. My hopes are that we build a more positive and credible professional profile across the wider school community, continue to grow and develop the quality of T&L in PE with collaboration and support forming a central theme and finally, that we foster a more supportive and trusting culture between leaders and teachers (one that dissolves fear of judgement whenever there’s an observation, work scrutiny or learning walk).
C) To improve my own practice
A teacher who fails to improve the quality of their own T&L or at least fails to try really should retire now. I went through a phase of complacency about seven years ago where all of my good ideas seemingly had been sucked away along with a little bit of life. It really was a creative drought and not a place I hope to find myself in again but with the right mindset I cannot see that happening. Yes, there are times when you are simply too busy to plan an all-singing-and-dancing lesson (most of the time) or just can’t stay up any later to design a more engaging information sheet but I must make it my No. 1 priority this year. I want to explore the use of technology to engage PE learners. I want to experiment with using SOLO taxonomy to set challenging learning objectives for my lesson. I want to bring creative ideas into the GCSE revision classroom to get the very best out of the football-loving lads who simply find classroom life a tad boring compared to kicking a ball around!
D) Host a PE Conference
This has been quite a recent development since attending the North East PE Conference up at Cramlington Learning Village. One of my prime reasons for going was the lack of collaborative PE meetings going on in our own educational area and I found myself sat there thinking we could totally do this. Whilst the thought of creating such a massive event (170 sell out) is quite daunting and probably unrealistic at this stage, I think we could do a good job of kick-starting it up and hosting an event to provide opportunities for collaboration and development across the PE community in our area. Watch this space!
E) Buy some iPads for PE
I mentioned this briefly above but I am desperate to purchase some iPads to use in the PE department. Over the last year I have managed to put together two very professional and strong bids to gain funding for iPads in PE only to be told that funding for the project had been pulled (first occasion) and I needed to reapply for a different funding stream as the ‘pots of money’ had be redefined. So on Monday 5 January a new, and hopefully final, bid will be sent to the right people I order to get some much technology into the department. Fingers crossed!
Well it was quite the list but a reflective and useful one for me to just take stock of the current successes of 2014 and hopefully future successes of 2015.