So, we come to the end of another year, and all things considered it has been a bit of a rubbish one if you consider it’s position in the annals of history, but there’s always good if you look hard enough, and here’s the good bits of mine. I’ve written more reasons than I should, but hey, I haven’t got this far in life by blindly following the rules.
- My son is in his second year at uni and my daughter has 3 offers so far for September, including an unconditional. When I step back and look at the young adults they have become, I can’t help but feel immense pride at the utterly wonderful, kind, honest, funny, hardworking and loving human beings they have become. I’ve spent the majority of my life with them as a single parent, circumstances (they didn’t want to know) meant that they have had no contact with their dads, but they have risen above all that and, with the help of grandparents who have been an incredible support, have become the kind of young people that people just….well, like. They have also supported me through some pretty horrible bouts of mental illness – they are my superheroes. With the utter travesties of 2016 of Brexit and Trump, it has been interesting to see what a strong moral compass they both have, but also how unwavering that is. They are also completely and utterly different in personality; they are who they want to be. Stepping back and just watching who your children really are is eye-opening sometimes….do it.
- My personal life took a turn upwards. I’m not going to go into it, as it’s not the right time or place, but I’m happy and content…and hopeful.
3. I wrote a blog the day after the Brexit referendum, because it was a bloody weird day at school. It was picked up by TES here, if you fancy it. What that day, and the weeks and months since, has taught me, is that there is hope for the future. Children are essentially kind and compassionate human beings, and the support and care that they have shown for each other since then, has reminded me of why working with young people is so brilliant. I’ve done other jobs; I wasn’t a qualified teacher until I was 36, trust me, teaching ain’t all that bad. Instead of constantly running down young people, and implying that none of them can behave and that they are all thankless, perhaps some should have a look at what our young people do without being prompted, or count the times that we’re thanked without being made to.There’s quite a bit out there, and I’m glad I noticed it.
4. I’m lucky that I work in a brilliantly supportive department. Yes, we work hard and long hours, but it’s like my second family; we take care of each other and laugh together, and I’m grateful for that.
5.I love Twitter too. There have been times this year when the negativity left me wondering if I wanted to stick with it, but Twitter is a fantastic forum for support and ideas, and there are those that just quietly go about sharing ideas and supporting each other. They are the real face of edutwitter and they are brilliant. There are way too many to possibly mention, but I did talk about some of them here, although this list needs massively updating. I spent a lovely day in the summer with @rachelrossiter @MissDCox and @FKRitson where I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel’s bookcase beaver and chatting to three of the most inspiring, funny and strong women I could possibly ever meet. I’ve attended NetworkEd, Teaching and Learning Leeds and TLT16 this year and again met some of the brilliant people inspire me every day in the Twittersphere – there has been no better CPD
6.This year, lovely @NooPuddles asked if I would run @Team_English1 with her, the idea being that we used it as a space for teachers to connect and support each other and share resources. It has been a fabulous success and we now have 3857 English teachers connecting and sharing ideas. I love retweeting people’s pleas for help and seeing them inundated with resources and ideas. That’s what it’s all about: making people’s lives that little bit easier.
And so what do I want for next year?
- For my kids to be happy. My son is 20 next week and across his teenage years seems to have developed a ‘I quite fancy it, so I’ll do it’ attitude. He travelled around Europe over the summer and next year he’s signed up to do Camp America. He works hard on his degree (he’s been writing an essay today, I doubt many students are over Christmas) and works at a school motivating the more difficult year 11 students. He’s an awesome young man and I hope he has a brilliant year. My daughter is feisty and funny and wants to be an Interior Designer. She is one of the best friends I could ever wish for, and her cuddles always appear at exactly the right time. I really hope she does well in her A Levels this year and gets to go to the university she wants to…..and this will leave me on my own for the first time in 20 years, but I’ll be mega happy that they are doing everything that they want to do.
- I want the first of the new GCSEs to be ok. Like every English and Maths teacher across the country, I am plucking figures and data out of thin air and just hoping for the best. I want the students to be ok. I want their hard work to pay off and for them not to be used as political pawns for the government to make statements about standards. I want people to stop saying that the GCSEs are easier than the year 6 SATs. They are not. They are really quite hard and students have to sit 8 hours of exams in English alone, answering questions on language, the structure of a text, evaluating, summarising, creative writing and persuasive writing. They have to write an essay on a 19th century novel, an essay on a modern text, an essay on a Shakespeare play, an essay on a poetry anthology as well as analyse and write about unseen poetry. It’s not easy. These 8 hours of English exams are in the same 2 weeks as their Maths and Science exams and overall most students will be sitting 20-30 exams across a few weeks. It’s not easy in the slightest, and all I can hope is that students feel confident and prepared…then we’ll analyse the results to death.
- Next year I would love it if I had less conversations with students about racial abuse they receive in their daily lives. I work in a school where 54% of the nearly 2000 students are EAL students, with 71 languages being spoken. I’m proud of that, the school are proud of that and in our little bubble of a community, racist abuse just isn’t an issue. But since Brexit, something that to my mind is pretty horrendous has happened. Students have told me of times where they have been sworn at in the street, shouted at on buses, and in one case a student told me about how he and his friends had things thrown at them by grown adults and told to ‘**** off back to your own country’ because they were talking to each other in Polish. This student will get probably get a 7 or 8 at GCSE, probably more than the person who threw things at him. This is happening to children. Children. I’ve taught refugees, who have arrived here on their own, some with scars from shrapnel from bombs, and they’ve been treated like criminals. I hope for more from this country. I hope that the humanity comes back. I just hope.
- I say this every year, but I want to read more. I am going to attempt the 52 book challenge, but with 4 GCSE classes, I may have to count student’s essays in my reading 😉
- I’m not going to get involved in Twitter spats. I have this annoying habit of needing to defend people (see above) and just ‘have’ to say something, but when you end up being called ‘abusive’ because you simply comment that as a parent you wouldn’t choose to send your child to a certain school then the world has gone slightly bonkers. Rather than let my heart rate get scarily high with anger, I am learning to mute and be like the proper cool Tweeters who blog brilliant stuff, but whose opinion you are never quite sure of (until they DM you informing you that they actually find it all as ridiculous as you do.) But having said that it would be nice to see things being debated, rather than for people who have a different opinion simply being shot down by loud voices. Because we’re an intelligent profession, and there are brilliant things going on across the country, indeed the world, that we can all learn from…and we don’t all have to agree on everything.
- I’m looking forward to more conferences and more meeting and listening to spiffing people.
- World peace….I want that. Peace out.