I didn’t complete a wish list for 2014 and as I reflect upon the goings on some were hopes, aspirations and actions but others, well I couldn’t have wished for in my wildest dreams.
So where to start.. I guess at the beginning.
January saw a new MFL team born as a result of departures to pastures new, promotions and maternity leave so a new year and a new start but some serious work to be done. RAP in place and learning walks aplenty with support from SLT and interest from the Governing Body, interesting times with some fun navigation was certain. Kagan strategies were being trialled with a range of outcomes; inside outside being a swift class winner at getting students speaking in the target language without protestation nor grunts! Excellent stuff.
February saw some planning and lots of action in preparation for our first TeachMeet, not quite the first in Gloucester but certainly the first cross-phase event in Gloucester city, and who to have as a keynote speaker. Thinking caps on. Decisions, decisions. Dedicated staff from our school and partner primary colleagues met to plan what was to be known as #QLCTMGlos. Sweets, tasty treats and an unforgettable and completely awesome T&L experience was the goal that would shake the city, inspire colleagues and ensure best practice was disseminated far and wide.
I offered to make a connection with the rather awesome @ictevangelist to ask if he could come to be our keynote speaker… He would be perfect for #QLCTMGlos sharing his awesome inspirational practice that everyone could take away with them to develop their own repertoire and share the word of the incredible impact that ICT can have upon learning in all of our classrooms. Mark’s non-threatening way of explaining, inspiring and encouraging is exactly what we needed. However being an ITL associate, an author probably creating his new masterpiece and AHT I knew his time was precious but all I could do was ask. So ask via DM I did!
Kagan strategies were setting KS4 lessons on fire and when students beg for you to use talking chips, round robin or inside outside you know you are on to a winner! Happy learning times!
March saw more amazing lesson observations from the newest member of team, a real natural affinity with students, making language lessons fun and exciting, and superb subject knowledge from the former marketing and events queen the profession managed to win. Excellent work!
Also the Head asked me to speak to a conference for Gloucestershire’s Headteachers and SLT about the ‘Power of Twitter’, I expected about 10 but found myself in a conference hall where there seemed to be few empty seats. Smiling faces from the assistant head (my line manager) and deputy head gave me confidence and all was well, despite little sleep, until I stepped up and scattered my note cards across the floor. D’oh! But I managed without them.
Kagan was proving to be a massive winner with a range of strategies being trialled across KS3 and 4 with real tangible and lasting impact on learners plus talk of a visit to a rather amazing school in a wondrous place called ‘Splott’.
April saw the Easter holidays and a well deserved rest for all come and go. Final preparations for Y11 and final MFL listening and reading tests were on the horizon so an extra special Easter holiday revision project was devised after our deputy head, now head, purchased GCSEPOD for the school. More variety, fun and practical revision for our Y11 lovelies and #QLCTMGlos was planned and sorted and joyfully @ictevangelist had confirmed he could be our Keynote speaker. Joy, joy, joy!
#QLCTMGlos was awesome. A truly incredible experience which seemed to take forever to arrange, sleepless nights, dreams about not enough ‘pick n mix’ bags and then it was over way too quickly! It was an ace event to which many of our own staff pledged to use Twitter after hearing the incredible range of speakers sharing their amazing practice that night. Proudly the event was truly cross-phase with primary, nursery & KS5 speakers coming to share their classroom magic from across the Midlands and South West ! Everyone had something they could take away whilst friends and colleagues that I had convinced to come had the fire back in their eyes and a hunger in their bellies that they hadn’t enjoyed for a while. In addition @ictevangelist storified the entire event for us and make us an iBook full of tweets from the evening. Awesome work and we are truly grateful! A night not easily forgotten!
May saw a new ‘revision offensive’ with relaxing and creative revision T-shirts magpied from #TMBristol in December. I had been sat on this gem for months after repeated requests from the wondrous NQT so with T-shirts and coloured sharpies at the ready we had our final few MFL lessons which were fantastically relaxed and focussed. My delightful Y11 tutor group and MFL groups depart and final exams galore. I love and hate seeing Y11 go, I’m truly rubbish at goodbyes and always sob but hey we all have to grow up don’t we and the next phase in life is always so exciting. However as luck would have it I was gifted another tutor group with immediate effect, goodbye Y11 hello Y10 So not time for the dust to settle and as I was their third tutor since Y7 no time for sadness on with the day job. My plan for the bonus 20 minutes gained pushed aside to get to know this not so merry bunch.
Weirdly I’d been asked to do a ‘little presentation’ for #PedagooSW by @ictevangelist which I agreed to but @rlj1981 said was actually a 50minute workshop… Instead of crying WHAT?!?! And panicking I cast my mind back to all that I had learned from the TeachMeets which I had attended since #TMClevedon and wondered what on earth I could speak about & what people might actually want to know about.
‘Kagan in my classroom’ would be the topic sharing my journey and that of the team was the plan. So that I did. The planning and preparation from @ictevangelist, @rlj1981 & @drmassey was incredible and so in June, on what seemed like the hottest day of the year hundreds of teachers convened at one of the most beautiful schools in the City of Bristol for #PedagooSW
It was on this day I met amazing people like @kwdscience, @aleishawoodley, and the rather incredible @musicmind. The sessions I attended were marvellous and a whole day of #awesomecpd was mind blowing, truly brilliant. Then it was my session and I was on at the same time as @eddiekayshun and @ictevangelist which surely meant no one would be coming to mine. Ah well and off I went, escorted to what seemed like the other end of the school to the sweltering drama studio by a delightful student, one of many who had given up their Saturday to support #PedagooSW, to find two people waiting. Yay I shouted (inside) at least I would have two. I opened a tub of lollies and welcomed my two which quickly became four then ten and when I’d counted over 30 my stomach started to drop so I just got on with it. And present I did. There were multiple handmade Kagan bookmark freebies and the lollies went down well, really well! So well I decided to stay for the evening event which was also truly awesome too with some very delicious #pedagooSW cake thanks to @flythegeekflag and more sharing of incredible practice. I was buzzing and grateful for the incredible experience.
July saw a roadtrip to Leeds to the
fabulous @NRocks2014 which did indeed rock and I found myself being awestruck by poetry, song, creativity and amazingness from some of the ‘rockstars of education’ the movers and shakers and the wonder makers- @davewhitaker246 @hywelroberts @debrakidd and Mick Waters to name a few. A truly incredible day out and well worth the trek from Bristol. And yes we have booked for 2015 and will be bringing a few more cars and booking some more hotel rooms!
In addition to this a thanks and well done team was gifted to us by SLT which was a really wonderful start to the long summer holidays despite the departure of one of the MFL team.
The summer holidays brought a birthday, an anniversary and building work… Which was all good until the rain came. There was also some rest and a chance to recharge which can only be a good thing.
August brought some good results but still some work to do to secure what we want for our students but thankfully few tears this year and this is testament to the hard work and commitment of the team. Together we make a difference and together we will get there, we are getting there. I am truly grateful for the effort, hard work, support and creativity that I see in classrooms across the MFL dept, and indeed the school. It is an honour to observe other people’s lessons, the interactions and relationships and the movement along learning journeys that I witness and I know how lucky I am.
The deadline for the #sweetdreams calendar that I’d volunteered to be a part of with so many others was fast approaching. So off to the fancy dress hire shop it was to ‘Lara Croft it up’ and to try to have just one decent photo taken before the final deadline! It was such an honour to be part of this, such a fab concept made reality and I’m grateful to @cazzwebbo for realising @chocotzar ‘s vision. Having gifted these to friends and family their joyful faces are hilarious at their reaction when I tell them I’m November 10th! They don’t believe me but it’s true.
September, a new year and a new start, to build on the team ethos and become even stronger and more successful in supporting all of the students we teach in every lesson. Also a book launch invitation and to London so off to the ‘Big Smoke’ I go with @misskmcD to meet some of the awesome contributors in @rlj1981 ‘s incredible collection of amazing practice in ‘Don’t change the lightbulbs’. Meeting up with Twitter greats such as @imagineinquiry @kevbartle @hgaldinoshea @chrischivers2 @kwdscience was a super treat in itself as well as meeting @jillberry @vicgoddard @martynreah for the first time. @misskmcd and I giggled all the way home at our encounters with some of the ‘rockstars of education’ that we had waved hello and chatted to, not actually quite believing it.
Also an interesting email from ITL, as in Independent Thinking Limited, inviting me to ‘try out’. Me?! The email, I think, must be a joke, like the one I received several months ago inviting me to think about writing a book… I mean seriously… Me?! Only in my wildest dreams…
So after another email or two and the need to respond I speak to people who I have begun to consider friends. They tell me to reply, to accept to not worry.
October comes and suddenly I have to attend a chat, an informal interview with three of whom I would consider to be ‘rockstars of education’. What me I say and start to get a weird feeling. I speak to friends and they say all is well, you’ll be fine and just go and be you. That’s the problem I think… I’m just me.
A #tmnsl workshop on Kagan was requested by the ever-inspiring @mrocalloghan at Bristol Brunel Academy which was a privilege to attend just before half term break and the opportunity to meet up with @musicmind @ictevangelist @daviddidau @eddiekayshun and @edubaker again. Exciting times in the education world in Bristol especially being immortalised in animation by the incredibly talented @davidjesus the live scribe for the evening! Amazing stuff especially at the end of a very long first term.
Then the drive to the Midlands for the informal interview, the chat with @DaveHarris, then @musicmind and @hywelroberts. I’m me, what on earth was I doing here and feeling a little peculiar and rather Alice in Wonderland. Incredible people, very inspiring, and I was absolutely awestruck. Another one of those days I’ll never forget. Two days later an email arrives, the kindest email I’ve ever read, the invitation to join ITL and become an associate. Amazing stuff I can’t quite believe it. It takes several moments to sink in.
The October holiday ends and to the Head’s office I go to speak to him of the news. It’s well received and he is pleased and happy to support this new venture. I tell my line manager who is also delighted. The support is tremendous, I feel relieved. The MFL team have known a while as have one or two others and are over the moon.
Then a phone call, a first event to deliver, a one hour session entitled ‘what does creative teaching look like?’ I am well up for it but ought to check with the Head first. He agrees and I am allowed to go be a part of the fantastic experience that is ITL’s Big Day Out in Surrey so to work I go. A ‘double act’ with Dave Harris – eeek best not muck it up!!
November comes very quickly and to Surrey I go after a day of learning walks from SLT and the Governors. A welcome dinner with Ian Gilbert, Dave Harris, Hywel Roberts, Roy Leighton and many many others. Fabulous evening and delightful food, superb conversations wonderful support. I’m truly grateful to be in the same room as these people!
So with my knees knocking, I don’t want to disappoint it’s the The Big Day Out at Glyn School! So exciting then I’m welcomed to the floor in a huge Surrey school hall. My solo session to provoke thoughts and ask questions and to share some tried and tested ideas on creative teaching to all of those people sat there to take back and use in their learning spaces. With some of those ‘educational rockstars’ sat there, I start and before I know it a one minute reminder (no sign of a ‘comedy cane’ around the neck). The coolest moment was when those sat in the hall wrote the idea(s) they were going to take back and use in their classrooms on coloured paper planes and threw them across the hall towards me. Brilliant. Thank you @rlj1981 for the paper plane plenary idea from #TMClevedon.
So an incredible year, really amazing experiences had, kindnesses shared and encountered as well as wonderful connections and budding friendships made and I do very much feel like Alice in Wonderland but I am really excited about what is to come in 2015. New friendships and opportunities. Practice developed and shared. Perhaps another session and maybe a book after all. We’ll see.
Thank you to everyone, fellow professionals, school support staff, TM organisers, colleagues past and present, new friends and old ones and of course the twitterati, as in you on Twitter who inspire me everyday, who share and support and whose positivity and willingness to help and support is frankly amazing. You are amazing and you know who you are. And finally the students without whom there would be no profession and who make the job I love everyday such fun, a joy and a challenging journey. Thank you.
Wishing you all a truly happy, healthy and successful 2015 in all of your ventures.