Sharing joy and knowledge from an ordinary life


So reading through last year’s #Nurture1314 post was certainly very interesting.  I’ve decided to make this one a little more meaningful. My wishes will not be a mere to do list but will contain things that might make a difference.

‘I’m excited about what 2014 will hold. There is much to be nervous about and huge changes are in store but I’m certain it will also contain much success too.’

The huge change I referenced was, in the main, related to my new commute, my improved living situation but also to the movement towards more responsibility for CPD at work. Little did I know at the time how much change was about to occur.

Although this post will celebrate the things I am proud of this year, the first one is tinged with sadness at the unexpected leaving of our much-loved principal. The reason it is a positive because she is a true inspiration. She is the very best leader I am likely to ever know. I feel beyond privileged to have had the opportunity to work with her and I was overwhelmed to be asked to say a few words at her leaving celebration. Here are some extracts:

1. Speaking at Lesley’s leaving celebration

I had the most wonderful couple of hours yesterday (and some more this morning) where I caught members of staff from across the College to ask them what they perceived Lesley’s legacy to be. What was incredible, or perhaps not so incredible if you think about who we’re talking about here, was that we all had the same things to say. I wish I had now just recorded the things they said because what I’ve shared in these slides are really just the soundbites of conversations I had. 

Here’s what colleagues said:

She inspired and empowered us all. She could suggest the end goal and then leave us some time to explore how to get there. She trusted each of us to carry out a shared vision of doing what was best for the learner and if it didn’t directly impact the learner’s experience then she encouraged us to question whether we should really be giving it the time of day.

You’ve done so much for the College and for many of us personally, especially me, who wouldn’t at all still be at the College if it weren’t for the culture you created and the welcome you gave me in this strange world of the South.

We just wanted to say thank you really and the very best way we will do that is by continuing the good work that you set upon and we shall all glue together, outside of the silos, to continue Lesley’s legacy. This will be our mantra, ‘What would Lesley do?’ and your presence will continue to be felt in that.

The hole she has left is gaping but she instilled in us all the importance of caring for one another and working in the best interest of the learners. I shall carry this ethos forward as best I can into my future years of work.

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2. Learning and Development Manager

I applied for, was interviewed and was successful in becoming a Learning and Development Manager (I have business cards and everything!…although I don’t really know who to give one to! Except my mum- I must remember to send one to my mum!)

My management journey has begun and you’ll be able to read full reflections on my first term soon (it’s been difficult to put into words). It has been one hell of a rollercoaster thus far and at times (ok then, most of the time!) I’ve been screaming to get off. I feel like a total imposter and everything has been a complete challenge. But no-one ever told me it was going to be easy… I guess the success has been that the role has formalised much of what I was doing anyway; and has granted me the proper time to do it all…and hopefully to do it all much better. Perhaps by this time next year, I’ll be able to say with more certainty that this has been a positive and a success in my year.

3. New Teacher Essentials Programme

I have been running and continually refining the New Teacher Essentials programme for new staff over the last year; the positive feedback we’ve received so far encourages me that what I’m doing is right. I set out in helping other new staff because I know how isolated I felt when I first began in teaching and if that could be made easier in any way, then I’d do it! So I did it. Here is what some participants have said about the programme:

‘I really enjoyed the new teachers essentials programme. It was a great way of integrating into the college and allowing me to come out of my shell and be more comfortable in my workplace, by meeting other members of staff and sharing ideas and practices. This programme was very important to me due to the fact that Reading College has actually took an interest in me and my development as a new teacher and that support blanket was very important to me as I moved country to especially take up this post.  So I’d like to thank you for all the work you have done with me over my first few months here. I am a lot more confident in my role as a teacher and a lot more comfortable in my working environment. I am really glad that I have moved over to work in this college and hopefully it is just the start of a long and successful career with Reading College :-)’

‘It was great to meet others in the same situation, but with such different backgrounds and skills. It was great to get a look at the amazing resources the College offers. It was great to be able to have such personal targets and be supported in focusing on those rather than prescribed targets. However, the biggest strength for me was just how inspirational all of it was, but that very special brand of enthusiasm where you see incredible things others have done but start to realise that you just might have it in you to accomplish them too.’

‘The biggest strength was an opportunity to understand and apply the College’s approaches to teaching, learning and assessment. Meeting other members of staff who you might not have come across in your day to day teaching. Input from other disciplines – it is easy to get immersed in your own subject and ideas from other areas are welcome. As a new teacher it was great to get advice, help and support from everyone on the programme.’

Of course, there are ways in which the programme still needs to develop and improve…as anything does. Helping colleagues to understand that it’s not a replacement formal teacher training programme but a supportive and openly honest reflective programme is anticipated as being my biggest challenge in the months to come. Reading these comments again makes me realise how much of a success the programme has been thus far and I must remember this.

4. #ReadTL14

We held our first ever Teaching and Learning conference this year. We had some incredible speakers, there was a wonderful buzz and some fabulous feedback was received. You can read more about the event in this blog, which is a bit of an epic one about a whole week of great CPD. Writing this down now just fills me with awe that we were able to manage it. I couldn’t have played my part in the week of course without Stephanie Moakes, who I’m certain must have worked with me for far longer than she has. She arrived into the chaos of cutting and laminating and promoting a conference that was happening in just a few weeks time, and we’d only just begun to plan it! She must have thought she’d made a very big mistake and that we were all completely crazy! Fortunately, this didn’t lead to her resignation!

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5. I made some friends!

They know who they are but they have brought me far more work-life balance than I’ve had since I began teaching. I can only thank them for somehow finding their way into my life.

I’m going to have a cheeky sixth success:


6. Living with my boyfriend again

The change I made in living on my own to living with my partner again was a very welcome one indeed. We are both far happier. I never would have ventured towards my new role if it weren’t for his continued support and encouragement and I would have never had anywhere near enough confidence to continue with the role this far if it weren’t for his constant reminders about the days I’ve come home excited about my job. Thank you!

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Finding the positives from the last year has been clouded by a very challenging learning journey and a commute, which has seen me travel roughly 33,358 miles. This is enough miles for me to have travelled around the globe once and still had enough miles left over to travel from London to Sydney.

2014 has seen me travel for 761 hours. This equates to 31.7 days. I have spent this many days sitting on a train (and doing a bit of walking at either end). And that doesn’t include any of the stupid delays I had to contend with at the start of 2014. That figure kind of makes me stupidly proud…like it might be some kind of accomplishment…but it also makes me feel plain stupid.

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2015 will hold some exciting things:

  • #ReadTL15 (pre-register here)
  • Management Journey- Installment II
  • Australia trip at Easter!
  • I’ll turn 30 (this IS an exciting thing…this IS an exciting thing…)

My hopes for 2015 are:

1. That we find a solution to the commuting problem. Or we at least find a way to make it more manageable; one day working from home every fortnight for instance. Whatever solution I find, I’d really like to spend less than a month of my life commuting in 2015!

2. That I start making the most of my new position. The break over Christmas has given me valuable reflection time and I recognise my serious need to get over my confidence and fear issues. There’s only me stood in the way of that; everyone around me thinks I’m capable of doing a great job and they can’t ALL be deluded…probably!

3.Related to the above, I will endeavour to keep a journal where I will write all of the things I am grateful for each day: things that have gone well. I think this will be essential in me beginning a more positive, less stressful learning journey.  More of a routine will be established on my commuting. I’m going to figure this out but I have to get over my stress and nerves. Meditation, writing and reading all help me to relax. So does having a bath but that might not be entirely appropriate on the train! If I’m spending a month of my year travelling then I’m certain I can ensure this isn’t all spent working.

4. Socialise more (now that I have friends down south this has been made somewhat easier!)

5. See my family more…somehow!

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When I began teaching, I responded rather naively to a question about what kind of success rates I’d be pleased with at the end of the year. I stated that if I helped just one person onto the next part of their journey then I’d be happy. Obviously, this is not what a future manager wanted to hear but it’s why I got into teaching in the first place: to have a positive impact on someone else’s life. This is what continues to drive me in my teaching life (not their attendance, or mock grades or RAG rating scores) but my relationship with each of them and the positive impact I might have on their lives.

These words will drive my purpose this year:

‘My purpose is to support and challenge others so that they have great experiences,

feel inspired and know that they are valued.’ 

My aim is to help others discover what CPD has to offer and for them to buy into the ethos that together, we are far stronger than we are alone and that each of us has something to offer another.

The one wish from #Nurture1314 that I believe I have completely and utterly fulfilled this year is to:

‘Continue living outside of my comfort zone as often as possible.’

Here’s something lovely that my Mum and Dad sent me last year. I included it in my #Nurture1314 post and I think it holds true as much for me this year as it did last year.

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”

– C. Joy Bell C.

What I must remember is to throw myself but to remember that things can always be developed. My title doesn’t mean that I need to continue developing everything in sight to the detriment of my own confidence and self-belief.

My writing commitment: I’m learning to honour my thoughts. I’m learning that my words can be shared before I’ve connected all the dots or learned everything there is to know. My writing can be a snapshot of a single moment in continually-evolving time.

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