2013 in no particular order…
1. Remarkable colleagues.
I work with some remarkable people. People who think good is not good enough and will go the extra mile for their students and fellow teachers. These people are remarkable in many ways and continue to inspire me to do and be better everyday. Check out a few of them on Twitter: @mr_bunker_edu, @mrtleahy, @artedu_kheath, @sporteredu, @mrgillenglish, @mrdaymentmaths, @gwilliams195, @jonericjones, @dominichoudhury, @bristolbrunel
2. Safe is risky.
To provide the best possible outcomes for the young people we teach we have to provide remarkable experiences for them. In order to do this you have to be prepared to take risks in the classroom. Great teaching is not a ladder to climb, rather a jungle gym to explore.
I was successful in securing a leadership honorarium at my school in September to drive the improvement of teaching and learning. Since then I have set up a small team of pedagogy leaders and created the brand #neverstoplearning (http://neverstoplearninghub.com/) to share remarkable ideas around teaching, learning and leadership in schools. A teach meet is also in the pipeline for 2013!
4. Leadership is not a position, it is a choice.
This is my 5th year as a teacher (4 of them as a programme leader of Computing) and I’m beginning to understand what it means to be a leader. It’s not a title. It’s about leading by example, high expectations, good habits, strong moral purpose and growing other leaders.
This is one of my passions and I love teaching it! It has involved me having to work hard to ‘re-fresh’ my skill set & subject knowledge, but that does not feel like work because one of my other passions is learning.
6. Teach Meets.
I’ve attended a few teach meets this year and I am convinced it’s the best CPD out there. Created for teachers by teachers. No hidden agendas. I always walk away feeling inspired, more motivated and with a long list of ideas to explore further.
Simon Sinek. Seth Godin. Malcolm Gladwell. Chip & Dan Heath. Hugh Mcleod. Doug Lemov. John Hattie. Jamie Smart. Ken Segall. David Didau. Hywel Roberts. Zoe Elder.
8. Distributed leadership works.
I work in school full of leaders. The forward thinking SLT have dissolved more power to the people closet to the action. They have invested time and effort into growing more leaders and as a result there is much more purpose and collective accountability about what our school does. I’m excited to see where 2014 takes us.
9. Make more art.
A realisation I’ve had this year. If you view something as work you tend to find ways to do less of it. If you view something as art you tend to find ways to do more of it.
10. Ultra running.
Running is part of my life. It helps me to achieve clarity and feel good. Ultra running tests me physically and mentally. This year I completed my longest ever continuous run – 54 miles in one go, as well as a few other shorter ultra marathons, marathons, half marathons and 10k’s.
It’s the ultimate staff room. Lots of interesting debate, ideas and an overwhelming willingness to share. Teaching is an emotional, people orientated art form and without the support, kindness and gift giving of fellow professionals I don’t think the profession would grow. So I thank you Twitter for connecting me with many marvellous artists!
13. Next steps.
I recently attended my first interview for the role of Assistant Principal. Didn’t get the job but learnt an awful lot! Why Assistant Principal? I want to influence more students than just the ones I teach. I like to be challenged. I like to connect, collaborate and work with other people. I like to learn from other people and help them to do their best possible work. I have a passion for teaching and learning that I want to share. I’m devoted to meaningful work.
2014 in no particular order…
1. Keep exploring pedagogy.
2. Take more (measured) risks in the classroom.
3. Blog / reflect more often.
4. Listen more.
5. Read more – looking forward to Simon Sinek’s ‘Leaders eat last.’
6. Deliver a teach meet in Bristol (keep diaries clear for 20th March 2014).
7. Encourage more people to share remarkable ideas through http://neverstoplearninghub.com/
8. Run 100km in one go and complete 5 ultra marathons.
9. Keep expectations high.
10. Continue to work through Doug Lemov’s ‘Teach like a champion’ book, trying out different techniques in the classroom (if you don’t have this book get it!).
11. Organise and run CPD sessions with pedagogy leaders.
12. Exercise everyday.
13. Eat less chocolate biscuits.
14. Never stop learning.
Unfortunately I have had to postpone the CLF ultra until July. I have been unable to run now for almost a month due to a flu virus and I’m still not back to 100% *sad face*. The doctor told me that my body has been ‘run down’ (probably from over -training). I know I didn’t give my body enough time to recover after the Green-man challenge (48 mile run) in March and I’m paying the price now!
On a positive note, being ill has given me the opportunity to have a complete rest (apart from cycling to and from school) and spend time doing some extended stretching and re-assessing my diet. Inspired by Mike Arnstein (an american ultra runner who only eats fruit (and lots of it!) and runs up to 200 miles a week in training!) I have tried to cut out more processed foods and eat more raw fruit and vegetables. Its been two weeks of eating this way but I already ‘feel’ better for it.
The CLF Ultra WILL take place before the end of the academic year, in the meantime you can sponsor me here.
A few years ago I decided to start running after a period of inactivity. New Year’s Day 2008 to precise. I ran about 4 miles around the woodland trails where my parents lived, got home and entered the New York Marathon. November 2008 I completed my first marathon in New York, just scraping under 4 hours. The last 4 miles felt like a marathon in itself – it was excruciatingly painful, but I finished. Since then I haven’t looked back, running is now habit rather then a scheduled session, embedded into my way of life. Marathons have made way for ultra marathons as I look to continually test myself mentally and physically. When I race I am simply celebrating the hours and hours of training I have put in before hand to ensure I enjoy the experience and hopefully learn something new about myself. There is no better feeling then crossing the finishing line after being on the trails for 10 hours! Ultra running has taught me patience, made me more determined to be successful in anything I do and has also increased my work ethic. “Hard work pays off!” Classic cliché, but very true.
These traits of ultra running have transferred very nicely into other areas of my life at home and at school. I demand a lot from my students and I try to highlight the rewards of hard work and the satisfaction it can bring. I’m also a lot more patient then I use to be, which is an extremely valuable asset when working with young people!
Running is also a great way to de-stress after a long day at school. If you are a teacher and you’re reading this and you don’t run – try it. Next time you get home after a long day and head straight for the couch for some TV action, try getting changed straight into your running gear (the hardest mental battle of all) and head out for a 20 minute run. You’ll feel great afterwards and come back with a clear head!
Last year I completed a 31 mile charity run, visiting 5 secondary schools in the local area on route. Me and a colleague raised money for the MAJI SAFI project (a charity which raises money for schools in Kenya). This year on Friday 3rd of May I will be running 48 miles to raise even more money for the same project. Students from 6 different schools will be joining me on the way to run small sections and hopefully this may encourage some of them to take up running as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Why am I writing this post? I need your money!! If you would like to help these guys out….
Then please donate what you can here.
Now go run!