Today (Jan 1st, 2018) marks my first day of unemployment (or being self-employed as my optimistic partner reminds me!) following exactly twenty years at the same school. The photograph shows me receiving a long service award at the awards evening for my academy trust. Twenty years is a long time, and I’ve seen huge changes in both the education system as a whole and within the special school sector specifically. It has also been ten years since I launched my website as a vehicle to share my teaching thoughts and ideas with a wider audience.
I’ve not kept a diary or journal so I’ve forgotten so many anecdotes and amusing stories (and probably many that I wouldn’t want to remember) but the highlights of the last twenty years that spring to mind are:
I’ve shared the resources I’ve used in my own teaching and I’ve shared ones developed with others as part of my outreach work (from my former life as an AST). I’ve had hundreds of thousands of downloads and that’s just from the TES site, I’ve probably had as many from my own site (imagine if I charged just 50p for each download!) I was once dragged across a CPD event I was attending by an enthusiastic teacher who wanted her colleague to meet ‘fiendishlyclever’ as they used so many of my resources! When I announced that I was leaving my post I received the wonderful feedback below from a teacher I used to work with. I hope I continue to receive similar feedback in future.
I haven’t blogged very much about my leadership, perhaps because I’ve seen myself as a science teacher first and a school leader second. It was a role I was thrust into rather than choosing to apply for, mainly because I didn’t have faith in my own abilities (fortunately others did!). As a school leader, I’ve been instrumental in school improvement from being in special measures to being a good school (outstanding for leadership/PDW) and learnt many new skills along the way. It’s hard to quantify your own skills – you often don’t realise you possess a skill or talent until you come to use it. I’m proud of the work I’ve done to develop leadership skills in others and of the legacy I leave behind. One of my defining moments was our recent award of Stonewall School Champions Silver – only eight secondary schools received silver in the two years that preceded our award.
My involvement with the ASE
Nearly eight years ago I attended a regional CPD event organised by the ASE. Not only was it one of the best pieces of CPD I’d attended up to that point, but it was when I was co-opted by our field officer to join our regional group. Over the years I’ve sat on more committees and helped organise more CPD events than I care to think about, culminating with my first year as a presenter at the 2018 ASE annual conference (although I’ve presented at regional events before). If you haven’t considered joining the ASE I’d urge you to check them out, not only have I attended numerous amazing CPD days but I’ve met dozens of talented and dedicated educational professionals from across the country, many of whom I can call my friends.
Having integrity can cause problems because the honest or honourable course of action isn’t always the right one. Several years ago there was a discussion about grading individual lesson observations. I wrote this blog post which proved to be so popular that I received an invitation to see our (previous) CEO where I was asked to take it down. Fortunately, the academy has since become more open to discussion but I learned to air my more controversial viewpoints elsewhere under a pseudonym. It later transpired that I was right about grading lesson observations…
I hope my integrity has shone through the postings on my blog and in my dealings with the people I have worked with whatever their role.
So what advice would I give to others?
It’s hard to be succinct because there is lots of advice I would like to share. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve come across recently came out of the #WomenEd movement and that is to “Be 10% braver“. This is excellent advice whether you are trying a new technique in class, applying for a new job or in my case a change of career.