I wrote this as a chance to reflect and think about things but as I’ve enjoyed reading other peoples I thought I’d put it up as a blog post. I wrote too much for it really to be for anyone else but maybe I’ll have a go at something more accessible next time.
14 reflections on 2014
- I started the year in a job that sounded like it would be fantastic but turned out to be unmanageable (31 lessons a week is more than I can cope with!). It was difficult to be the sort of teacher I would like to be, in fact it made it hard to be any sort of teacher at all.
- I found out that my housemate can actually cook. She pretends not to be able to but when I got too stressed to be much use she made some very tasty curry’s.
- I started doing line ups for our B team. After not skating for nearly a year I was missing seeing people and so did line ups for one game which turned into a permanent position. It’s not the same as the feeling of having wheels on your feet but takes a lot less training and it’s a nice way to stay a bit involved.
- I discovered twitter. One weekend I decided that things needed to change so I looked at all the things that were making me miserable at work and tried to find a way to make them better. Only having one other person in the department who worked in a completely different way to me meant I didn’t really have anyone to share things with and get ideas from. I decided if I couldn’t have a real department then I’d find a virtual one. Twitter was a lifeline to other people who share interesting things and discuss teaching and learning. I’m still not sure I use it very well but I’ve found so many great ideas and lovely people.
- I made a fractal dress. There was a very geeky craft evening with some lovely rollergirls where I was making a dress and got carried away. It was designed for going to see Festival of the Spoken Nerd but I’ve worn it to a few maths conferences and it’s a great way to make new friends. I’m planning a whole fractal fashion line when I work out how to get an 8 day week.
- I turned most of our front garden into vegetable beds.
- I quit teaching. Eventually I found ways to make it work and got to the point of being able to cope with the job, at some point I’m going to blog about that. Everything was getting better but one day I realised that better wasn’t good enough and handed my notice in. My letter was brief and to the point, it pretty much said I quit and nothing else, as I’d always been taught if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all. The relief was instant and I’m so lucky to have friends and family who agreed that quitting with nothing lined up was a great decision because their main concern was to see me happy again.
- I got a new job. Turns out quitting teaching is harder than I thought. My fantastically organised and very lovely friend got the head of department job where I used to work and immediately set about convincing me that I’d like to go back. She said it would just be part time until Christmas while I worked out what I wanted to do instead…
- I skated a marathon in just over 2 hours. After a year off skating I was pretty happy with that.
- I learnt to love teaching again. So much of the credit for this goes to my new head of department who has constantly told me she believes in me even when I get into a stupid panic and end up in tears over a lesson observation. I lost my confidence and enthusiasm for a while but now I really enjoy being in the classroom again and I love watching my students develop their skills and understanding.
- I have a new kitchen. When we first moved in I had a vision of a beautiful kitchen with a big cooker in the old fireplace,within a week I’d knocked out the fireplace but then things stalled for a while. It turns out old houses are full of surprises. Luckily I have a wonderful boyfriend who has rerouted all the pipes, replastered the walls and generally worked out how to make my ideas reality.
- I got another new job. For a few hours a week every other week I pretend to be a real grown up lecturer, well actually I am a real grown up lecturer but the grown up bit definitely feels like pretending. I get to work with some brilliant trainee teachers looking at developing their lesson planning. I love discussing teaching maths and designing activities so it’s brilliant to spend the time doing this with them, they challenge and inspire me with great questions and new ideas. It’s also meant reading more research and books in the past few months than I think I’ve read in the last 5 years and I really enjoy being able to use it as a stimulus to think about and change what I do in the classroom.
- I went to the seaside with geography. It was great fun and there was loads of maths involved.
- I organised my sewing room. Ever since we moved in it’s been the dumping ground for things we didn’t know what to do with so it got to the point I couldn’t get in even if I did have time to make things. I can actually find things again now which is nice.
15 aims for 2015
- Turn the colourful dice I’ve been collecting into a necklace. When I was sorting out the sewing room I found a whole bag of dice and my parents just gave us a new pillar frill for Christmas so I’ve got plans for pretty mathematical jewellery.
- Continue spreading positive messages about maths. The geography field trip made me realise I should be spending more time finding out what is going on in other departments and linking it to what we are doing in maths so I started asking other teachers over lunch. They haven’t started avoiding me just yet and It’s been really interesting to talk to other teachers about their experiences of maths and how it is used in their subjects. That’s something I want to do more of this year. The message that maths is important, relevant and accessible and needs to come from all teachers not just maths teachers.
- Get the mathematical bunting finished and back up.
- Make a new geeky dress. It wouldn’t do to keep wearing the same one, eventually someone is going to notice.
- Redesign the GCSE scheme of work. I teach teenagers who mostly think they can’t do maths and usually don’t like it very much. I get a year to try and convince them otherwise and help them get to the all-important grade C. As far as I’m concerned the most important things is trying to help them see that actually maths is useful, interesting and something that they can do. I’d like to spend more time on look at key topics in depth so that they can see the bigger picture and develop problem solving skills. Before Christmas I was lucky enough to go to a talk by Jo Boaler which backed up so many of the things I’d like to do with research saying it works and ideas for how to do it. Now I just need the time to work out how to do it all.
- Make packed lunches. I used to do really good lunches for everyone in the house but have got a bit lazy lately. It’s so much nicer and cheaper than buying lunch.
- Find a time to do marking each week and stick to it instead of ending up rushing the night before.
- Grow more squash, they were really tasty and fun to grow.
- Keep reading about education. Blogs, research and books are all great for new ideas.
- Improve the success rate for GCSE. Just before Christmas new guidelines were published for GCSEs in colleges and after many years of being told we aren’t good enough it turns out we’re over 20% above bench mark. That’s great but it’s not the bench marks that matter I know the difference it makes to my students to both achieve the grades they need and feel confident using maths when they need it.
- Skate a marathon in under 2 hours. A good start would be doing some more exercise in general but I’ve not worked out what yet.
- Teach Sprocket dog a new trick. It takes a long time to teach a whippet to do anything other than running and sleeping but it’s a good way to spend time with her.
- Share more resources that I’ve made.
- Take time to say thank you to people who share their ideas and resources.
- Drink plenty of water, eat well and get enough sleep.