It Was a Very Good Year

‘Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.’

Miracle on 34th Street.

This is part one of my final Blog post of 2011. Exactly a year ago I had written my first one. It  lay untouched for days,  a result of my procrastination and general weak-willed assumption that it was rotten. However, I leapt in and a year later I can happily say that that decision changed my teaching life. I may never be the best writer, the best blogger; I may never win awards: but I am more confident as an educator, more connected to like-minded souls and more prepared to take a risk. If there is one piece of advice I would pass on to anyone in the same position as I was a year ago it would be this. Go for it. To paraphrase someone else, blog like no-ones reading.
So, in the finest tradtion of lazy journalism and even lazier TV programme scheduling, over the next two days I’ll highlight the top ten most important things that have happened as a result of that decision to Blog. In  no  particular  order:

1. Teachmeet – I attended many of these this year and spoke at two. Speaking in front of large crowds of your peers may not sound appealing – it was terrifying actually – but it was massively rewarding. The huge confidence I gained from forcing myself up to talk about things which are happening in my class was amazing. There are no cynics, no grumblers. Merely like-minded souls who want to listen. Do it. First chance you get. Just do it. But make sure you keep your shirt tucked in.

2. Persisting with the Blog– From the tentative scribblings of a wannabe blogger to the Guardian in seven months. I had two of my blog posts chosen for the Guardian Teacher’s Network this year and it blew my mind. I genuinely think that my Blog can be good at times but never that good. To see my work on the Guardian website –here and here– and to be able to mail the link to friends and family was hugely important to me and a massive confidence boost.

3. My Scottish PLN – A year ago I wouldn’t have known what a Personal Learning Network was but now can count many great, great educators as friends. In Scotland alone, Fearghal, Colm, Dave, Neil, Liz, David, Ian, Drew, Russell and those too many to mention. You know who you are and I thank you for the unbelievably creative ideas you have shared with me this year.  And the Twitter heckling at Teachmeet, Neil. Thanks again.

4. My worldwide PLN– The great thing about Twitter is that it breaks down barriers in so many ways, not just geographically. I can contact writers, educationalists, anyone around the world and it is amazing how kind people can be. James, David, Mark, Tom, Phil, Lisa, Nina, Eugene, Laura and many others: thank you for opening doors for me and creating the best CPD I’ve ever known. And thank you for your patience and support.

5. Digital Literacy – I started the year with Inanimate Alice and wrote at the time that it was the most incredible learning experience I’d had. I wouldn’t change that looking back. The process as well as the amazing classroom experience is something I would recommend to every teacher who crossed my path.  Student engagement rocketed and we produced some excellent writing as well as our own digital episodes. No experience necessary. Highly recommended. And it does not mean that you throw everything else out. We still studied literature, grammar and everything else you would expect. We just worked harder.

I’mpretty impressed with all of that. It hasn’t been a bad year at all. Tomorrow I’ll get to #pedagoofriday and a few other things.

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