#Nurture1314 by @MissKMcD

My ’13 highlights and my ’14 hopes

Despite constantly worrying about always wanting to do better and not feeling as though I am doing enough, when I think back and reflect upon 2013, it has been a great year for me and hopefully I’ll be able to share with you 13 reasons why. Being inspired by many #Nurture1314 posts (created by @ChocoTzar), I thought I should start as I mean to go on and blog (better late than never?!)

1. Homeowner

2013 saw me buy my first house. It had always been a goal for me to be a homeowner – from when I was 17 I said I wanted to have my own house by the time I was 25. Admittedly, I am one year late but I am proud to say that Chez de McD is taking shape and I love it. Having my own space, a place to call my own is an awesome feeling. After working at B&Q for over 7 years I could never quite understand how people got excited by laminate flooring, lighting, curtains and canvases but now I get it! This Christmas has seen me spend a rather large proportion of it buying things to make Chez de McD my home. Big tick, feeling pretty good about it too!

My favourite purchase to date for Chez de McD.

My favourite purchase to date for Chez de McD.

2. Family time

This year saw a horrible event happen to my Gran and Great Auntie. I was full of rage and anger for what had happened to them. A vile crime that made me realise and feel inspired by how strong and courageous my Gran and Great Auntie are. When I was doubting, they helped me to believe again. This made me stop and realise just how precious family are. Spending this Christmas seeing my relatives and loved ones helped me to have clarity in what is important in life. Yes work is a big part but it isn’t everything. This is something I have struggled to get my head around for the past 4 years! My mum, dad and nan have been so incredibly supportive over recent months with helping me with my house, I’d be lost without them!

3. Promotion

This year I was promoted to Skills Co-ordinator at my school. The briefing I was given can be found below.

  • a)      To ensure that the personal, learning and thinking skills curriculum is delivered to all students in order to support the raising of standards of skills across the school.
  • b)      To raise standards of attainment and progress in communication, reading, writing, spelling and the use of grammar across the school, working with and through the literacy and numeracy coordinators.
  • c)      To co-ordinate the Skills Team projects, such as the docks trip, the animation project, calculate your carbon footprint, liaising with and supporting the curriculum teams to ensure excellent outcomes.
  • d)      To support curriculum areas in developing in students the skills of writing at length, within a logical and coherent structure, using a purpose.
  • e)      To ensure that students acquire the necessary skills to become active, independent, life-long learners.

A pretty tall order and one I am still getting my head around now, considering I am continuing to teach Business Studies, ICT and be tutor to my 8KM’ers! I love the variety and breadth this role has brought to my teaching. Prior to this year my main experience of leading a team was when I co-ordinated the Front End department at B&Q! Two completely different worlds so to say I was and still am incredibly anxious would be a fair comment to make. Reassuringly, I have received positive feedback from students, colleagues, SLT and the Governors as to what the Skills team has achieved so far year to date. Term 1 has gone well with Skills having a higher visual presence in classrooms and in planners (a baby step but one that seeks to help develop the use of the language of learning).

Developing consistency across learning skills and the marking and presentation policy.

Developing consistency across learning skills and the marking and presentation policy.

One of my highlights was hosting a workshop for parents (Literacy, Numeracy and Learning Skills evening). More than 50 parents came and I was blown away by their positivity, engagement and participation in the evening. As part of my workshop I set parents a challenge which could win prizes for their son / daughter’s tutor group and to say they were competitive would be an understatement!

4. Students

At one of the ever inspiring TeachMeets held at Clevedon School I was fortunate to have attended one of the workshops led by Zoe Elder (@fullonlearning). It was here that I first learnt about Marginal Gains and one of the most powerful and important strategies I have come across to date, saying hello. Really. In the chaos that is school life it is easy to walk down the corridor without acknowledging students (and colleagues alike). Part of the idea of acknowledgment was drummed into me at B&Q but I firmly believe that it has helped my practice. I said hello to all students, including those I don’t teach (yes it freaked them out) but now and as Zoe found, students now say hello to me first. It matters – it helps to build strong, positive relationships, which are the foundations for learning.  This along with Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) two most powerful words, #YouMatter has helped me to foster positive relationships with students.  The students who I am fortunate enough to work and learn with are some of the most amazing people I have met, particularly my team of Student Researchers, who you will hear more about in 2014.

5.Pedagoo Wonderland

This has to be the single, most invaluable CPD event I attended this year. Many of my colleagues thought I was completely bonkers travelling up to Newcastle on a Friday night from Bristol to go to “a work thing”. When I was sat in the departure lounge on Friday evening with my suitcase I did wonder myself why I was going when I had 8 million other things to be doing! However, #PedagooWonderland did work wonders for me. After finding term 2 particularly challenging in terms of volume of work, it put the sparkle back into my teaching mojo! Lisa Jane Ashes (@LisaJaneAshes) and Jane Hutchison (@JaneHutchison1) along with the teachers and students of Joseph Swan Academy showed me what an ‘Outstanding’ school looked and felt like. Everywhere you went in the building the walls spoke to you and everything was centred around current students.


As part of #PedagooWonderland I had to choose which workshops to go to. This was such a tricky decision to make as there were so many incredible teachers giving up their time on a Saturday to help enrich the learning process for students all around the country – Lisa and Jane spoilt us for choice!

I went to the following workshops:

  • David Hodgson (@DavidHitl)  – How we really learn
  • Hywel Roberts (@Hywel_Roberts)  – Stop worrying and love teaching
  • Jim Smith (@Jim1982) – Independent Reindeers
  • Lydia Burnett / Sarah Middlemiss – Power of display for learning

I took something away from each part of the day and it was at #PedagooWonderland I realised the power of Pedagoo – one of the most enjoyable activities of the day was Lisa’s snowball activity whereby we all had two ping pong balls in our goody bags which had one word on each of them. We had to talk to each other and find out what words were on each other’s snowballs and our mission was to make a sentence about the power of Pedagoo.

This really was an extraordinary day, one which I won’t forget and one which I have taken so much from. I met some amazing educators at #TMBlakes afterwards including @lovelinkous and @SpiceWeasel77 who helped me to remember and realise just how much I love what I do.

A place where students want to go and read

A place where students want to go and read

6. Success Diary

This has to be the one thing that I have maintained this year and continue to do so. During my NQT year in 2011-2012, I was constantly beating myself up about lessons that didn’t go well and my year 10 Business boys not behaving, I lost sight of the good things I was doing and the areas in which I was achieving. As well as having my official NQT mentor at school, I was very fortunate to be mentored by someone who inspired me hugely whilst completing my degree, someone who showed me the joys and passion for teaching and learning, Harriet Shortt. During our mentoring, we agreed that I would write 3 good things that happened during the day, every day. This book has become incredibly precious to me because for those times when I forget or have had a bad day, it helps me to remember the wonderful things that have happened and continue to happen.

7. Clare Balding (the power of Twitter)

This has to be one of my favourite things about Twitter.  I was tasked with making the year 9 spreadsheets scheme of work more engaging and interesting for students. Whilst planning, Britain’s Brightest hosted by Clare Balding OBE was being aired on BBC One and I decided to adapt some of the brain boggling activities from the television show for our year 9’s to complete to help engage them with spreadsheet terminology. I wanted to get them hooked in so I got in touch with Clare via Twitter and asked if she would do some audio recordings for me… and she did! It went down incredibly well with students and it got my lessons off to a flying start. Needless to say some of my sceptical year 9’s questioned the authenticity but nevertheless, it got them to want to learn about spreadsheets!

I cannot describe just how much of a powerful tool Twitter has been for helping me to develop my creativity, my pedagogy and it has given me opportunities I may never had got had it not been for the biggest, warmest, engaging staffroom in the virtual realm.

8. TeachMeets and TLT Takeover

Once again Mr. Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist) shone with #TMClevedon in 2013. This man, from afar has and continues to inspire me greatly and I am determined to host my first TeachMeet at Cotham in 2014. Having attended the very first #TMClevedon in 2010 held in a classroom to the profile he gave TeachMeets in the South West, it really is phenomenal. The sheer number of teachers who have taken a golden nugget (or more) back from an evenings visit to an incredible school just outside Bristol and shared with their own students and colleagues Mark has calculated goes beyond 100,000. Just incredible.

The Teaching and Learning Takeover organised by David Fawcett (DavidFawcett27) and Jenn Ludgate (MissJLud) was superb. The way in which it was organised meant that there was sharing of great ideas and practice every minute we were there! I look forward to the next one in 2014 🙂

9. Middle Leaders Programme

As part of my professional development, I was enrolled onto the Middle Leaders programme being organised by Ali Goddard Jones (@AliGoddardJones). In the first session held in December I received the results from my Myers Brigg test. My personality type was an ENFJ (the same as Barack Obama… probably the only thing we have in common!). Here I was able to reflect about me, something which I don’t do enough. I am looking forward to continuing the programme in 2014.

10. Exmouth Camp!

The year where the sun shone! This has to be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding trips I have been on to date. Spending time with my then 7KM’ers really was precious and it created so many wonderful memories. Our sixth form helpers continue to shine and sparkle and 8KM get very excited when they walk in to lead tutor time. Just awesome.

11. Girls football

I took the lead with girls football and am thoroughly enjoying it. To any PGCE students or NQT’s who may be reading this, get involved. Leading an extra curricular activity helps in the classroom too. Some students who can at times be challenging have performed so much better in ICT due to the relationships formed through football.

12. My KM’ers

I believe being a tutor is one of the most important parts of my role. Seeing my tutor group each morning and afternoon is often one of the highlights of my day! They do some incredible things and one thing I am emphasising this year is the importance of kindness and respect to others. One of the ‘KM Kindness’ activities we do in tutor time now is have one of them stood in front of the whiteboard, 2 scribes and 2 runners. The runners go to each of the KM’ers and ask for a kind thing to say about the person stood in front of the whiteboard. I then take a photo and send it home to parents. This has gone down a treat so far and helps to create a positive feeling in the tutor group.

13. Rocky and Reflection

Rocky is the family cat. Unlike one of my colleagues who insists on dressing her cat up in ridiculous items of clothing, my cat is crazy enough without being transformed into a witch at Halloween or one of Santa’s elves at Christmas. Seeing Rocky is the one time whereby I stop and relax – something which I must do more often in 2014. Rocky knows when something is wrong and never fails to make me smile. He has got into the habit of fighting with the stairs and insists on sitting just where I want to sit!


My 14 hopes for 2014.

1. Getting the balance right a better balance and PRIORITISING

I have to learn how to prioritise for my own well being  and sanity. Teaching can and will take over every waking hour of the day and as much as I love my job, this cannot be the case. I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to do this but I’m certainly going to give it a go.

2. Success Diary

I will make sure I continue to think of 3 good things that happen each day. I know that this has become incredibly important to me and I must ensure that I make it part of my daily routine.

3. Juggling!

Linking in with number one, I have to learn to juggle – maybe if I learn to actually juggle this may help me metaphorically?! I need to know what I can let go of and at what times.

4. Marking and Feedback

I continue to be inspired by one of my colleagues Candida Gould (@CandidaGould) who loves and enjoys marking. I currently do not have the same levels of enthusiasm but something that I want to improve is the quality of the feedback given and the way this happens in the 3 departments I work in. Jamie Collin (@sensibleJC7) has been working on this as part of his SLT secondment at our school – you can read more about this here.

5. Sport

Me time fell by the wayside in 2013 so I want to get it back again. I started playing hockey and going to badminton and loved it – then when things got a bit full on with school life, they were the first things to go.

6. Developing Skills – bringing P4C to my school

As part of the development of learning skills at Cotham, I am going to be introducing Philosophy for Children (P4C). Upon initial reading and interactions with @ShornyMorgan I hope to develop students questioning skills and enable them to think deeply and to be able to use these skills in other subject areas.

7. TMCotham – Power to Pedagogy

I am hoping in the early part of 2014 to organise a TeachMeet at my school. I have attended dozens of TeachMeets around the country and am always amazed by the outcomes.

8. Cooking!

In 2014 I must learn how to cook properly. I do not claim to be the classiest person in the world, far from it, but this year I would love to learn how to cook some decent food. One of my friend’s who is a primary school teacher suggested we both go on a cooking course so if you have any suggestions, please do comment below!

9. Reading

I joined the TRAIL (Teaching, Researching and Improving Learning) group at school and rather disappointingly didn’t make time to read for it. I want to make time to read to develop my practice further to help deliver better lessons and deeper learning for my students.

10 Holiday

All my friends give me stick, often saying “half term already?!” in 2014 I’d like to make the most of the summer break and go somewhere special. My dad is turning 50 this year and he has always wanted to go to New York. Having been twice to my favourite place in the world I would love it if me and Daddy Mac could go there in 2014.

11. Blogging

#Nurture1314 is the first of my blogs – it has taken me an age to get here but one of the things I must do is share all of the lovely ideas I come across. I have been greatly inspired by Rachel Jones (@RLJ1981) , Amjad Ali (@ASTSupportAAli) and Tobie Draper (@TWDLearning) and in 2014 I want to give back to the community where I have ‘magpied’ so many ideas!

12. Seeing my 8KM’ers into year 9

My tutees and I have already coined 2017 as the year of ‘doom’ – it is the year that I see them off as year 11’s and the year that I also turn 30. I want to make sure 2014 is an enjoyable year for my KM’ers. They are a very precious group of students, they are the first tutor group that I shall see through from year 7 to year 11. They are a smashing bunch.

13. Bristol Rovers – Up the Gas!

Seeing as I work in the ticket office on a weekend, I really should know who the players are! One mini mission for 2014 is to learn all of their names!

14. Love what I do

Tom Sherrington (@headguruteacher) wrote an incredible post entitled 10 Reasons to love teaching, which can be found here – it is refreshing to hear such positivity and when I heard Hywel Roberts speak at #PedagooWonderland, it gave me goosebumps. I am at the very early stages of my career and it has been a rollercoaster ride so far and I am sure it will continue to be in 2014 and beyond. It is an incredible job, a tiresome and demanding one but when you hear those two words “thanks Miss”, it’s unbeatable.

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