Like a slaphead Maleficent, it is time to gaze into my magic mirror of reflection, and to ask whether my year was the fairest of them all. My hopes for 2015 were as follows. These snippets are from last year.
- Balance – Stop living vicariously through my job, and learn to relax.
- Thesis – Find an idea, write my Thesis, get a Masters degree.
- Jaunt – Go traveling a bit more in the holidays, ideally in India.
- Write – Get published more often for writing about education.
- General Health – Be healthier, dress smarter, love etc
Rightyo. To summarise my progress, or lack of progress, against these Success Criteria…
- Balance – I have a new post in school which better suits my butterfly mind, and it allows me to flit about doing a million and one tasks. Oddly, I fare better with this than when needing to focus on one behemoth at a time. I am Assistant Director for our Teaching School Alliance, so I get to do lots of work linking up other schools in Newham and putting learning projects together. I also have my wonderful student teacher Lily with me, and a hilarious and very sweet Year 4 class. As well as my teaching then, I also get to visit lots of other schools, start up new initiatives, host events with kids of all ages, put conferences together and all sorts of lovely things. Oddly, because I am in charge of my own timetable a lot more, I get more done in working hours despite having more to do. I think my balance is better and I am happy boy.
- Thesis – So this didn’t happen again. I was given the choice to defer it again until January. I am going to the library today. I have so many things I am interested in in education, that I am absolutely spoiled for choice. My topic odds are as follows (can be grouped together to form an Academic Accelerator Bet) Gender 2/1F Islam 4/1 Queer Theory 4/1 Parents 5/1 Schools as Community Sites 7/1 Favouritism 7/1 Semiotic Analysis of School Dinners as Cultural Scripts 15/1 I have abjectly failed this objective and am even further from decision than a year ago.
Pluralise jaunt and we can talk. This year I have been the teacher that non-teachers hate, and have just been on lots of holidays and have done lots of visits to other countries. In February I went to Athens and saw the Acropolis etc and committed a grave indignity on a hotel balcony after some corrosive Ouzo. In Easter, I spent 10 days in glorious Marrakech, gorging myself to oblivion and learning to produce smoke rings with a lovely Berber man named Abdurrahim. In summer, I went to Turkey and bronzed my horrible pallid self, swimming in the redolent froth for a fortnight. In October, I went to Malta and dodged rainclouds. It may not have been to India, but that can move on to future endeavours. I jaunted hard in 2015.
- Write – I have done a lot more blogging and have been getting some recognition for that, which is great. Emma Ann Hardy and Jill Berry said very pleasant things about it, in the Schools Week blogs of the year thing, and if you are reading this you two – I shall pay you shortly. I have enjoyed writing more thoughtfully, and taking more time to think about bigger societal issues. I can reveal that I am working on a big book at the minute about my experiences of faith, religion and belief as a non-religious but very curious primary teacher in an area where almost all pupils are Muslim, Hindu and/or Sikh. Publishers form an orderly queue. Good to write and be read.
- General Health etc Avid followers of my Twitter stream will know that this year, my health did not improve. I – a 25 year old strapling of a man – have been diagnosed with gout. Yes. Gout. In scenes that brought peals of both laughter and concern in the staffroom, it turns out that my fruit-free diet of excess, low water intake, zero exercise and more-than-occasional consumption of alcohol has caught up with me. I was hospitalised with a disease popularised by Henry VIII. In the romantic stakes, I had some decent dates and one that was a very promising date, but timings of holidays conspired to ruin my romantic chances. This was an absolutely horrific year for my health.
On then to 2016 and all my dreams and aspirations.
- Degout Myself I was told I had gout in November, and since then I told about three people I was going to become vegan, told my parents I would become teetotal, then went and ordered a steak pie and a bottle of wine in Wetherspoons. Somehow, in some self-destructive strain of madness, I have not yet summoned the ability to regain control of my bloated frame, even despite temporarily losing the ability to walk. I simply must get healthy. The children comment with things like “LOL your stomach”, “Your belly is like a ball” and “Haha, your belly is soft” and even a parent came up, stood, pointed and laughed. I need to degout. Water and green tea are high on my list. A violent cutdown in red wines. Lots of good greens etc. I am eating a lot less meat anyway, but continue to stay low. Maybe join a gym BLAH BLAH BLAH WE AL KNOW I AM EATING A STEAK BAKE EVEN AS I WRITE THIS
- Thesis Actually pass the Masters. Last year I got my Cambridge Masters, which is the honorific one they give out as an academic afterbirth of elite privilege. I want my real one now. I start in January and submit it in August. I will need to study two evenings a week in the UCL IOE Library.
- Global Issues Group I started a Global Issues Group at school, which is a group of teachers interested in global issues, citizenship and community action work. We are working through the Global Goals. We began by aiming at alleviating poverty and ran a whole-community campaign to collect donations of goods and money for the refugees in Calais. The parents and pupils gave SO much and some of us teachers drove over to France last week to donate, organise and distribute the goods to the refugees in the camp. This was a phenomenal project, and really brought the whole school community closer together. Our next Global Goal is to look at creative ways to address Gender Inequality, and I want us all to begin by looking forensically at our own classrooms and playgrounds. Exciting.
- Job I want to settle properly into my quirky role at school, and build up a really active network between all of our schools so we can genuinely work together to keep up the huge improvement of schools in Newham. I love my school community more and more, and I hope that this new role will allow me to do more with community leaders, groups and institutions. Not least the about-to-open local Halal Pie Shop (THE GOUT, JONNY, WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE GOUT!)
- Blogosphere etc This year has made me realise that some debates on Twitter and blogs aren’t worth having, and some aren’t even debates. I want to carry on getting to know great educators from across our land, and want to continue using Twitter as a platform for ideas exchange with people committed to the kids, and for a very niche genre of teacher comedy, by posting things like when my kids accidentally send me R.I.P. cards, thinking rest in peace just means ‘have a rest’.
Have a really great holiday over the Christmas break everybody.
Rest in Peace.