12 Brilliant Things From 2012
1. Turning 40 – I had a fairly crap birthday for too many reasons to go into here, but I’ve always liked moving into a new decade and that sense of grownupness that comes with it.
2. Teaching School Preparation – My school received a grant to build capacity towards becoming a Teaching School on 2014 and since then, my work at the school has become outward-facing and more interesting than ever.
3. Failing to be Shortlisted for Interview Twice – Before I knew how brilliant my work at Canons was going to become I made two applications for Headship. I didn’t get shortlisted. Good because failure is always a chastening experience, and I need chastening. But beyond good, because I would have missed all this if I’d have been successful.
4. Pedagogy Leaders – We managed to appoint six people to lead our teaching and learning drive FROM THE CLASSROOM. The best investment of money I have ever seen in a school. They have lived up to both halves of their title and I am regularly flabbergasted by how good they are.
5. Blogging – It began with the school CPD blog, Canons Broadside, but has spread to my personal blog, DailyGenius. Nothing to say other than I unreservedly adore it. For me on my personal account, but for the school and school system with the work account. My biggest joy is getting others to see how liberating blogging is, and to know that their contribution is fascinating to a wider audience.
6. Collaborative Teaching – This summer I worked with two other teachers to develop a Poetry Slam enrichment day. Some things went beautifully. Other things less so, but the spirit of working collaboratively with colleagues has become a feature of our work in the last year and it started here. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.
7. Practitioner-Led INSET – I already knew this, but it has been a while since I’ve seen it done and I have never seen it done properly. Our last three INSET days have been focused on the classroom practitioner and on modelling great pedagogy, not simply ‘talking the walk’. Even the wonderful Alistair Smith (who was loved by Canons staff) came second in staff feedback to our own teachers.
8. The Olympics Opening Ceremony – Forget the Queen and James Bond. The Tory MP who said it was a 3 hour party political broadcast for the Labour Party got it right. It showed me that left-wingers can do patriotic too, and the fact that Danny Boyle has turned down a knighthood for it has also reaffirmed me in my republicanism. Very rarely have I felt leftishness to be at the centre of people’s hearts and minds. Glorious.
9. The Sporting Year – For goodness sake, I still cry at the footage from the Olympics and Paralympics. The full range of names need no mentioning but I was lucky enough to see Natasha Baker and David Weir, winners of six gold medals between them, in person. But for me the Sports Personality of the Year voters got it spot on: Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France was quite simply the most magnificent spectacle of the year and the most significant British sporting achievement in decades.
10. Twitter – Having built up a professional network with the @CanonsOPP account before the summer I started to migrate regularly-tweeting followers to my personal @KevBartle account over the summer. The result has been startling. I now have so many friends here – proper friends who will bend over backwards to help me even though we have never met in the flesh – that I feel overwhelmed by it all. A genuinely lovely community of people.
11. Children and my Child – Children will always be a part of my top whatever of the year. They are amazing and I am still honoured to be a school teacher and school leader. I renew my optimism every year, term and week because I know that optimistic teachers are what I want for my child. And she has them in her new junior school, with a very good, very engaged Headteacher and a form tutor in whom I trust.
12. Teachmeets and Tweetups – The logical extension of twitter and blogging has been a rise in person-to-person interactions beyond the walls of the traditional school. We are, to a certain extent, part of a much wider community as the Tweacher Tube Map by @pekabelo shows, and that has begun to manifest itself in Teachmeets and Tweetups. I have met so many of my twitterfriends in the past term and in doing so have made real professional and personal connections that will stay with me for a very long time.
13 Hopes/Wishes/Dreams for 2013
1. Secure My Health and Happiness – Forget everything else. These are the pillars upon which all else is founded. I don’t want to lose anyone in 2013 and I want a joy of living to infuse the lives of all I love. I hope that I can be a net contributor in that process. And I know that I need to do more to look after myself too as I enter my 42nd year.
2. Seek Intellectual Challenge and Stimulation – I have never loved my job as a school leader more than I do now (I’ve always loved it as a teacher) because of the new challenges. During the hard times it takes what @superstylynne calls ‘courageous leaders’ to come to the party and lift the chins of their staff to the skies and fill their breasts with optimism. To do that we must look to find and exploit good policy, bring out the best of bad policy and provide alternatives to unacceptable policy. 2013 is going to be a vital year for all three of these.
3. Get Canons Broadside Firing Deafeningly – I love, love, love our CPD blog Canons Broadside and in a short space of time it has come on beautifully, with five different contributors and about 7000 views already. Next year I want it to sing out to the world about the work we are doing. I want it to be a rich and varied source of classroom-focused, pedagogically-inspired reflections. I want it to be the best school-staff blog in the country.
4. Make Paul Proud – People who know me know that my brother died. On January 27th it will have been 30 years since he was the victim of a hit and run. Every year, every month, every week and every day I strive to live the best life I can in honour of him. 2013 will be no different. Love you Paul.
5. Achieve Teaching School Status – In the perfect world, Canons becomes fully ready for Teaching School status, submits the best application the NCSL has ever seen, is accredited as part of an innovative and pedagogy-driven alliance of schools and becomes a central cog in a system that is ethical, effective and enduring. But even if we fall short of that goal I hope that we never stop striving for these ideals because Teaching Schools have the potential to be a force for immense good.
6. Play a More Political Part – As well as contributing to the system by my work as a teacher and school leader I have become hungry again to represent and serve people in the profession I love. In January I am going to submit an application to be on the election platform for ASCL Council (thank you, again, @joanne_rich for your help and inspiration on this). I also want to be heavily involved with the SSAT’s exciting ‘Redesigning Schooling’ project. I’ve always had politics and activism in my bloodstream, but in these current times my heart is pumping fast and the passion for engagement is coursing through my bloodstream. This is not a time to sit back and do nothing.
7. Fulfil a Childhood Regret – I generally don’t do regret, as my regular tweeting of the beautiful Edith Piaf and Gloria Gaynor songs will testify, but I so wish that I had learnt to play a musical instrument and speak a foreign language when I was younger. I envy those who are proficient in either and come close to loathing those who can do both. So my one request for Christmas and birthday presents is guitar lessons so I can right one of those wrongs. I know some will say you can learn it all from YouTube but I need the focus of formal lessons to get me past the “I don’t have the time for this” and the “I’m crap at this” moments.
8. Help Millie Grow – My daughter is my world. Nothing comes close. If the adage of giving me a child till she is 7 and I’ll give you the woman is true, then this year (in which she turns 8) is the year when I will know what kind of woman she will become. So far I have nothing to worry about. She is caring, assertive, diplomatic, idealistic, funny, insanely clever compared to me at that age, sensitive, intuitive, beautiful. I hope that I continue to play a massive part in helping her to find her place in the world as a confidently humble and humbly confident person.
9. Start My Novel? – I have a novel inside me. It’s been there for a decade already and is already pretty tightly planned. But I’m waiting for something inside me to tell me that it is ready to be written. So far that internal voice has remained silent but I suspect it is growing restless. Blogging has helped me realise that I have a style that people enjoy and that was always a private concern. Maybe, just maybe, 2013 will be the year.
10. Strengthen Family Bonds – I try to be connected with so many people that sometimes I let the family bonds that are most important get stretched too thin and occasionally even break. I need to remember that the people who will always be there for me are the people who will always be there for me. There’s no point in painting my house beautifully if the foundations aren’t fundamentally solid. So next year I want to pay heed to those I love most of all and remember not to forget their needs.
11. Let Serendipity Rule – I wrote the other night that “the joy of life is in the living of it” and I mean that most wholeheartedly. Coming up with 13 things I hope for and wish for is giving me the heebyjeebies because I’m not that kind of a person. I like life to bestow upon me whatever gifts it wishes to send my way. So my main hope for 2013 is to be open-eyed and big-hearted enough to recognise the sights and sounds of serendipity calling.
12. Retain My Optimistic Naïveté – Of all the things I like about myself, the one constant is my optimism. I couldn’t function without it and so I never, ever take it for granted. I work on it and hone it and seek to correct myself if ever I feel it slipping away. Whatever crap life throws at me I make sure that I find ways to find the silver lining. In 2013 I hope that every day is a shiny new penny in my hand, and a penny with which I can buy anything I want for anyone I want. That would be bliss.
13. Avoid Mayan Armageddon – Might as well get this one in, or the others all become null and void.