Reviewing the year is at first like those times when you meet an old friend that you haven’t seen for ages and they ask how you’ve been. “Oh, fine… What have I been up to? Nothing much.”Nothing significant comes to mind. You desperately try to think of some great achievement or life-goal that you’ve reached but… Nothing.
That’s how I felt when I sat down to right this. But then I looked through my photos. I love photography and while the “proper photos” are on my “proper camera” my iPhone is full of the snaps and selfies I take day to day, when out with friends, trying things for the first time and generally having fun. In an ideal world, where anonymity in teacher blogging wasn’t needed I’d post those pictures here freely but, for fear of any rogue Year 11s seeing them I’ll have to leave them in the safety of my phone. For now, you’ll all have to put up with my words…
- Sunflowers! Tomatoes! Strawberries! This year I did ACTUAL gardening. I planted and grew ACTUAL seeds into ACTUAL flowers and fruits. My mum and dad have always been keen gardeners so I knew I had it in me somewhere but up until this year I’ve always lived in flats. Having a garden is an absolute joy and a great opportunity for photos.
- This year I attended and presented at my first teachmeet. The drive to the school was far scarier than the actual presentation (nervous driver, confident speaker!) and I got a lot of great ideas from the presentations I saw. At the next one, I encouraged a bunch of my colleagues to come and I hope they got something out of it too.
- This leads me onto Northern Rocks! I attended for the first time last summer and had such a great day. I met people I’d befriended on Twitter – it’s nice to know you’re all real! I’ve always been a proud geek and I love learning new things – this year, being part of Twitter, Staffrm and attending Northern Rocks has reignited my teacher geekery and I will happily give up another Saturday listening to ways I can continue getting better at the job I love.
- I learnt how to be a leader… To some extent. I took on the temporary role of Assistant HoD, leading KS3. The KS3 curriculum planning came naturally, it’s what I love doing and there are a bunch of amazing English teachers on Twitter that I could turn to for help. The leadership side of the role was a whole different challenge. Trying to support colleagues, dealing directly with SLT for the first time, and giving observation feedback were all new to me and I found it hard. In January and February I found myself coming home in tears, searching Guardian jobs for other career options and struggling to sleep. Looking back, I know that this was just as much down to the post-Christmas, post-wedding come down. The sunnier days, my amazing husband and friends helped me get my mojo back. Fast forward to the end of this year and I was given the permanent role of KS3 lead and was made to feel like I’d done a pretty good job. It’s not often that happens but I have an ace HoD and Team English make me feel valued in what I do.
- Part of feeling better about myself was the outdoor fitness class I joined. Me and a small group of other English teacher friends all signed up together and, despite the insanity of the workouts, we all have such a lot of fun and feel great about it afterwards. Exercising with friends is definitely the way forward.
- I turned 30. Not so much an achievement as an inevitability. But whereas most people fear saying goodbye to their 20s, I embraced it happily. Make that a massive bear hug actually. I LOVE now being able to claim that I’m “too old” for such nonsense as going out drinking, listening to loud music, and staying up past 10pm. My 20s didn’t suit me. I’ve always been an 80 year old woman at heart and I do enjoy a good sit down.
Now to 2016!
- I’m going to go to Northern Rocks again and meet even more of my Twitter friends. Please be aware, I come from the Chandler Bing school of meeting new people and can make too many sarcastic comments too early. Bear with me, I’m actually lovely!
- I’m going to use my Year 9 Film Studies taster classes to reignite students’ enthusiasm for the subject and encourage more to take it at GCSE. I’m sorry to say it, but screw the EBacc!
- We’re going to buy a house. We rent our current house but both my husband and I now feel like we might be grown up enough to buy one of our own. This could go well, or you might start seeing Nikki shaped holes in the walls of high street banks when the fear kicks in.
- And now for the obligatory fitness resolution, although this has a more sombre purpose than the usual weight loss objectives. My beautiful friend Kim died of breast cancer in the summer. She was 34. One of Kim’s defining features was her sharp, black humour and she was able to share her experience of breast cancer in a way that made me cry with laughter. Kim was an unbelievably courageous and talented woman and I miss her. I’m a terrible runner but this year I’m going to do a Race for Life, in her memory. I will run safe in the knowledge that she will be up there belly laughing at my struggle to get around Heaton Park!
So here’s to 2016.
And if I win that lotto rollover jackpot tonight, these plans may look very different!