It’s the time of year when I look back over my learning log to see what I’ve achieved during the last 12 months. As with most years I’ve probably achieved a bit more than most people, but a bit less than I should have. Overall though, despite a few ups downs down I think it’s been a pretty good year, not quite a vintage but a pretty good year all the same!
Here are a few aspects from the last year that really stuck out:
I continued to work as Depute Head Teacher at Musselbugh Grammar School until 1st April 2009. Since then I’ve been seconded to Learning and Teaching Scotland as National Advisor for Emerging Technologies for Learning. I started this role as part of the Glow Team but have since been transferred to the Consolarium project whilst maintaining a cross-organization portfolio for social media and advice on new technologies for teaching and learning.
I miss the buzz of the grammar school in particular working with the young people and the staff. I also miss being more distant from the East Lothian learning community. I don’t miss the Thursday morning senior leadership team meetings.
I am really enjoying my current remit in particular working with such a talented bunch of people. We work hard, spend a lot of time away from home, travel miles but have great fun. I am also enjoying being given the opportunity to contribute to policy advice and being consulted on a number of aspects of the Scottish Curriculum reform.
I’ve cut back on a lot of the external work over 2009 to concentrate on my new day job. But I did managed to deliver a couple of consultancy projects near the beginning of the year which have included:
- BBC New Lives New landscapes – was really pleased how these TV programmes turned out. I was the principal consultant and I think we managed to finally make ‘Industry Interesting’ again! I was particularly pleased with the Dundee programme that looks at the computer games industry.
- DoBe Teach IT – I was the main author on this resource contributing to the Google Earth, Best of the Web and Images section of the pack. I heard its now in over 500 schools across the UK which is something to be proud of.
- Microsoft InnoVids – After the Microsoft Summer School. I produced a few videos looking at the creative use of Microsoft Office in the classroom. A full range of the videos will be available at BETT 2010.
- CfE Social Subjects Textbooks – When I have had the chance I’ve been writing and editing resources for Hoddar Gibson (more on this in the new year) - the deadline is the 5th January!
I finished my Scottish Qualification for Headship in June and continue to do bits of work for the University of Edinburgh on the PGDE Geography Course including student observations.
I’ve established some good relations with Microsoft over 2009 in particular the Innovative Teachers Network. I’ve visited Reading, Vienna and Brazil promoting the value of games based learning and other new technology in schools.
Since starting my secondment I have had an opportunity to engage with hundreds of teachers from around the UK and further afield. Specific highlights include:
- Personal Learning Networks: at the Scottish International Summer School on School Leadership.
- Accelerated Leadership - How do we develop motivated school leaders?: at the Scottish Learning Festival.
- Social Media in Schools: at the Handheld Learning Festival, London.
- Geography: Past, Present and Future Keynote Presentation: at the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers Annual Conference.
- Literacy, ICT and CfE: at Drummond Community High School.
- The use of Mobile Devices on Expeditions: at the Royal Geographical Society London.
- Curriculum for Excellence, Science, Change and New Technologies: at SSERC Conference.
- Using computer games as a context for learning and social interaction: at the K-12 Online Conference.
My main professional development comes from my personal learning network in particular twitter and my RSS Reader.
I have also been lucky enough to attend a number of conferences and Teachmeet events including Teachmeet BETT 2009, Teachmeet NE London and the Islay 2020 unconference in June.
I headed up the organization and chaired Teachmeet at the Scottish Learning Festival and I think that everybody that attended will agree that it was a lovely evening. I even achieved an ambition to my name on a BrainPop letter! which the BrainPop team later included as one of the highlights of their year.
Much of the first half of the year was spent trying (unsuccessfully) to get fit for my summer adventure to cycle the Great Divide from Banff, Canada to the Mexico Border. In the end I gave up training (it was taking far to long) and just flew out to Canada to start the ride.
After two weeks with Marco and Simon followed by posting most of my equipment back to the UK, deleting songs from my iPod and two further weeks riding alone I found myself (nearly 3000 miles from the start) at the Mexico border. I was looking a shadow of my former self, with no feeling in my right hand, slight concussion and huge smile on my face.
Cycling the Great Divide was without a doubt one of the hardest things I have physically ever done and a real highlight of the year.
I continue to live in East Lothian and work across Scotland. Most weeks you can find me in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee on at least on day of the week. Work also increasingly takes me to London and other location all over the UK. I still enjoy regular trips to Weymouth and miss my friends and family back at home (even Yazz and Bertie).
You can find my pre-booked 2010 event list here – with lots of other events and conferences in the pipeline. Please get in touch if you want to meet up.
I continue as the chair of Volunteer Development East Lothian and we recently moved our offices out in Haddington to new premises in Musselburgh. I’ve been on sabbatical from the role for the last few months but I will be re-engaging with the organization from the new year (tomorrow actually!).
We have some exciting community and social enterprise projects up our sleeves for 2010 and I’m looking forward to being able to tell you more about them (particularly if you like cycling).
This was also my first year as a member of the SCSSA Advisory Group on School Leadership and member of the Media Literacy Scotland National Steering Group.
I already know that 2010 is going to be a very interesting and possibly a difficult year for me and is likely to involve change on a number of levels. Here are some of the things I am looking forward to:
- Re-engaging with the Volunteer Centre and taking on some new projects and initiatives.
- My new texbook will be published in June 2010. I’ll probably also start work on the CfE Level 4 edition - although I have another idea for a different side project that might end up occupying this time.
- I’m going to cycle between Lands End to John o' Groats. Not for charity – but in the words of late George Mallory, ‘because its there’.
- In June 2010 I will announce the team and dates for a return trip to Denali’s West Buttress that will depart in 2011 or 2012 depending on National Park permits and a few other details.
- In July I’m leading a group of young explorers to the Alaska Wilderness where we will trek and canoe the Noatak River from its Headwaters to the Bearing Sea.
- I’m going to start to make preparations for the end of my secondment from Learning and Teaching Scotland and for my return to school. I aim to apply for my first (well second actually...) headship during 2010.
- I’ve felt really fired up since the Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Teachers Event in Brazil and as a result I’m going to work harder than ever before. 2010 will be the year I up my game and really fight for what I believe in to make sure that any children in my care get a modern education and not a re-invented one from the past 200 years.
- I’m going to attempt to find that work-life balance (OK you right… that’s not going to happen!)
- I’m going to continue to expand my whiskey collection and share it with friends at regular intervals (yes, even Alan Parkinson).
- I’ll continue my quest for the perfect cup of coffee and hope to finally get round to helping my pal Michael roast some real beans early in the new year.
- Despite times of massive local, national and global change, I’ll remain optimistic about the future.
Anyway, if you’re a regular visitor to my little part of the Internet - Happy New Year and huge thank you to everyone how has helped, supported, worked and laughed with me through a good 2009.
Happy New Year