Nurture 13/14

Here I go… My very first attempt at writing a blog. I’ve spent the last few days reading the blogs of other teachers on twitter and would thank all those who inspired me to write a piece of my own if I could remember their @ usernames! I will get better at that hopefully.
I have been led to believe that the structure of the nurture13/14 blog should be made up of 13 things I would like to reflect on from 2013 and 14 things I would like to achieve next year. So, here are my reflections, both good and bad, from 2013:

1) I saw my first ever tutor group through to the end of Year 11. Saying goodbye to them was incredibly difficult. There were many things I wanted to say to them, loads of “words of wisdom” and Pinterest quotes I wanted to leave them with. In the end my partner tutor and I had to make a PowerPoint with our goodbye message as we physically couldn’t speak without crying. They cried, we cried, it was all a big tear fest but it summed up how proud I was to have known them and see them get to the end of high school. Several of them still keep in touch and visit school on their days off college. They were an awesome bunch of people.

2) Which leads me on to my next point: meeting my new tutor group. As a teacher you have to learn that these children who you grow to admire and enjoy speaking to every day will eventually leave, full of excitement for their next stage while you remain, feeling generally sad and a bit lost. I didn’t think I would feel the same about my new tutor group but now, after having know them for just 1 term they are proving to be potentially just as fabulous as the last lot. Going back to the fuss of Year 7 after the maturity of Year 11 is challenging but also lots of fun.

3) A not-so-happy reflection, this one: I applied for a promotion at work. Didn’t get it. Cried a bit. Cried a lot actually! Felt that it was unfair. Bitched about a lot of people to sympathetic friends and colleagues. Then I got over it! I had to reaffirm to myself that I am a bloody good teacher, that I could have done the job very well but it just didn’t go my way. I’ll give it another try some other time maybe, but right now I’m enjoying some new responsibilities and having the freedom to try out new ideas. I can be creative in the classroom, something which I think I would have lost out on had I been bogged down with a new role.

4) Following on from this, one of my new responsibilities was to mentor an NQT for the first time. This has been a challenge at times as I have felt like the young newby of the department ever since I joined but now we have several NQTs and suddenly I’m the experienced one! It’s been a difficult balance between friendly colleague and occasional butt-kicker (which is sometimes necessary for all of us!) but we’re doing well. I admit I felt some element of personal pride when he was graded “good” in his first term evaluation!

5) With a mixture of happiness and little sadness, I watched many friends move on to new jobs, new departments and even new countries. I am happy for all of them, happy that they have found their place but sad at being “left behind”. This tied in somewhat with the whole promotion fiasco but I feel better about where I am now. We are all doing well at staying in touch and not letting our new responsibilities pull us into separate worlds entirely but it is hard, especially after a busy or stressful day when all you want is to find your friend and have a moan. It’s that little bit harder when you have to email ahead to find out where they are but good friends will always make the effort, and we are good at that.

6) On a more personal note, I will briefly say that this year I have watched my two awesome sisters go through some big changes. Sometimes I’ve been able to help, most often I have not. It’s been beyond me to know what to do for them but I can say that things are looking up for both of them. They seem happier and I’m proud of them both.

7) I feel like this should have been item number one but it scares me! I got engaged last Christmas so this year I have been thinking about planning a wedding. Notice that I said thinking about planning… No planning has actually yet occurred because I find the whole thing absolutely terrifying but some vague ideas have been put in place!

8) My boyfriend (or fiancé! Hate that word!) and I love camping and this year we took my sister and nephew with us for the first time. It may not sound like a big deal but it’s something we really enjoy and we wanted them to see how relaxing and fun it can be. We had a great time playing with him and showing him how proper camping is done. Can’t wait to take him again (although my sister might insist on a place with more phone signal and a spot to charge it up!)

9) I bought my first “proper” camera and began taking the time to pursue a real hobby. I had been interested in photography for about a year but had been using my iPhone primarily. When people seemed to like my photos it boosted my confidence (I know, I should just be happy to do it for personal fulfilment or whatever but who doesn’t want praise off other people!?) so I splashed out and felt like I could really spend some time doing this properly. I love photography now and have started entering competitions and challenges. Teaching is the kind of job that will easily take over your life if you let it so I am glad I have this hobby to escape to.

10) I got one of my photos published in a local newspaper! It was a complete surprise. I had just posted it to their Flickr page and happened to be looking though the paper later on that week. My first thought was “I’ve taken a photo EXACTLY like that” and then I saw my name. I used to be very self conscious about sharing my photos so I was really excited to see that someone had thought it good enough to print.

11) This year I was given the opportunity to teach the Year 10 boys group, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I like teaching boys and getting them engaged in English is something I’ve always been interested in. The boys group can be a difficult bunch; they are noisy and don’t write nearly as much as I’d like them to, but they perform well when they need to, they are bright, funny and I look forward to our lessons. I hope to get the chance to do it again next year but I fear someone else might want to give it a whirl.

12) Finally finished my PgDiploma, an additional course I signed up to through my school a couple of years ago. I still have the choice to finish that last unit and get a Masters in Teaching and Learning but the first project took so much of my time and, honestly, I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I realised I enjoyed reading about new ideas and strategies (I was focusing on using film in education), it was just the writing of an actual essay I found tedious! Especially the references… So painful. I did it though and my certificate is currently stuck to my pin-board… Perhaps as a reminder not to do it again!

13) I was much better at the work/life balance thing this year. I was just talking to my boyfriend about all the things we have done this year; camping, holiday to Germany, Green Man Festival, Alton Towers Scarefest, seeing the Halle Orchestra at Jodrell Bank… I have become so much better at saying yes when offered the chance to do something new and I just make sure I am more organised so that school work doesn’t get in the way. I have been there when my boyfriend has been taking part in his many runs and marathons, something which I’ve often said no to in the past because I’ve had marking or planning to do. It’s made me a much happier person and a much better person to be around… Even if I do say so myself!

And now onto next year! I may need to print these off and stick them to the fridge… And the tv… And my desk.

1) I suppose top of the list has to be GET MARRIED. This time next year I’ll be a Mrs!
2) Go to Disneyland. I’ve never been before and it’s going to be our honeymoon. Should book that soon actually…
3) Go camping more. See if I can convince my older sister to come along this time as well! My nieces will love it and I’d love to take my nephew again.
4) Which leads me to this: see more of my sisters, nieces and nephew. And not over FaceTime…in actual, real, 3D life!
5) Get my Year 8 Booster group up to level 5s. They can totally do it, they just need to LISTEN!
6) I’ve conquered the local paper (ha!) so now I need to get a photo printed in a photography magazine. I read quite a few and they are constantly running competitions so I need to enter some more.
7) Complete the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge. I signed up for this a couple of months ago but at the moment I can’t walk up the two flights to the English department without having palpitations. Need to get working on my hill confidence!
8) Take good care of my tutor group. People forget how hard Year 7 can be when us teachers are all so consumed with Year 11 but they’re a delicate bunch and need me to look out for them.
9) But I obviously can’t ignore Year 11! I have been given 3 delightful kids to mentor this year and I need to read up on strategies to keep them sane when things go a bit loopy. Hopefully my experience with my last tutor group will see us through.
10) Find more things to keep me upbeat when I’m having a rubbish day/week. Don’t avoid friends, family and everything else good for me when things get busy. It’ll be so much easier to deal with if I take time to be more “Nikki” and less “Miss English Teacher”.
11) Watch more films that I wouldn’t normally choose. I saw Filth sort of by accident with my friends this year (we wanted to see Romeo and Juliet!) and it turned out to be one of the best films I’ve seen all year. Need to do that more!
12) Read more! Make a dent in that huge pile of unread books.
13) Do more for charity. I might see if I can get sponsored for my 3 Peaks Challenge and my tutor group love a good charity cake sale.
14) The best one: Be happy! Be less concerned with other peoples’ business. Be more helpful, patient and kind. Be even more awesome than I already am!

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