16/17 – Do What You Love

5 favourite things from 2016

(because all good things come in fives. Well, one thing: Boyzone)

  1. Music

As you can probably tell from the first line, music isn’t my strong point. I can’t tell you any genre that I like in particular. My response is generally ‘whatever sounds good’. Pathetic? Maybe. Cop out? Perhaps. To me, this reflects how I feel about education and my life as a whole. If I think something will work in my class, I’ll try it. If it does- bingo. If it doesn’t, I’ll tweak it or bin it. In life, I’ll do the same thing.

  1. Beer 

this was consumed at many teaching events I went to and I had many an interesting discussion over an ale or two. I started with meeting some of my northern PLN at BETT 2016 continued in March at the first Primary rocks and finished at TMSolutions. During these conversations, I made links, started projects and stole many an idea to try myself. Beer also took me around the world – trying new beers in new places: on top of mountains; in different seas; beaches; on edges of cliffs and of course a hot tub.

  1. Coffee

As part of my reflections from my previous tricky class, I continue to have a coffee machine in my room. This means that I can follow up on sweating the small stuff with minutes here and there in my classroom at break time, without the fear of not having my very decent favourite mug of the black stuff. I don’t need it so much now that the children know I will be there waiting, but it’s handy when I hold an after school meeting in my room!

  1. Cows

I started the year well by ensuring we got out on a long walk every Sunday. Generally to somewhere with no signal so we could properly escape. School work could wait and so could the rest of the world. Also we tended to come across a pub lunch and cows and I got to wear my wellies. I feel indestructible in wellies – puddles are no match for me!

  1. Water

I did the 10 day water challenge towards the end of the year and it highlighted a couple of things:

  • The simple challenges can be incredibly rewarding
  • Small changes can have massive impacts
  • Teachers are in fact allowed to go to the toilet during the day. The world doesn’t collapse and my body says a polite thank you.


Ultimately, I learned to: try new things and feel confident enough to chuck them if they weren’t appropriate; chat to new people; find solutions that work; temporarily escape the workload; and set mini challenges for myself.


3 magical things for 2017

(because magic things come in 3s.)

  1. Smiles

From all those around me. With a bit of a crappy year, I think I’ve become a bit selfish when it comes to everyone. So:

  • Family: see them. Talk to them. A whatsapp group was made this year towards the death of my Granda and it’s helped us all connect. Now we tend to use it to remind each other of stories, let each other know if granny is needing some more TLC and to wind each other up (you see where I get it from now).
  • Friends: prioritise. I struggled with distance this year, yet had time to schlep up to the north/Toulouse for teaching stuff (which were amazing), but…priorities.
  • Children: no, I don’t need to be liked by them to get a smile. I need to keep providing meaningful learning experiences and keep one eye out for ideas to adapt to use with them.
  • Colleagues: share with them. Magpie from them. Keep the conversations going. Yes, it’s amazing to talk to those from across the country/world about what they do, but actually talking to those who know the children and our ethos is more important.
  • Strangers: share a smile or some appreciation. Not a creepy smile and not a sorry when it ain’t my fault. Normal human social interactions that seem to be disappearing.
  1. Stars

Nothing makes me gawk more than the stars on a clear night in the countryside (and I have a mean app for that). I need to keep getting outside: walks, sleeping, chatting. More stars because there are fewer distractions in terms of lights (any Planet Earth II viewers know the traumatising cost of too many lights for little turtles!) I need to shed some of the external distractions with education too and really focus on what matters: the teachers I work with and the children we teach. I need to stop comparing myself to the amazing teachers I talk to daily in the twittersphere – I am less experienced and need to focus getting that before pushing myself.

  1. Rainbows

Keep positive. 2017 may well bring torrential showers, cascading rainstorms, calamitous thunder and worse. However, I need to remember to whip out my brolly and search for the rainbow. Whether it be a small lightbulb moment from a child, an early morning conversation over coffee, nailing a sprint, an after work vent and laugh, a supportive tweet or even remembering there’s a beer leftover in the fridge. 7 a week. Minimum.

Oh and a really big hope and wish: a dog. Fingers crossed for me please.

Ultimately, I want to focus on those near and dear to me, try and set an example to anyone I come across, find the balance of looking out and in and keep on the look out for the positives, especially when everything seems rubbish.

I will most definitely continue to do what I love AND find more things to love doing.

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