The end of 2017 is just a few hours away which means I’ve been pondering where the time has gone and what I’ve managed to fill it all with. After all the upheaval of 2016 when everything changed, 2017 has been about putting the last 5 pieces of the jigsaw in place and settling down in my new life. Here’s how I’ve got on:

#newjob – To continue to play my part in making sure students and staff at school are happy and successful.

I’ve been in at my school for two years now and I hope I’m making a difference. Staffing struggles have meant it’s been difficult to see sustained improvements in some areas I work in but this year I’ve enjoyed looking at how we support our staff and students to maintain their mental security and wellbeing through implementing the work of Victor Allen in tutor time and assemblies and delivering CPD to staff on mental health and wellbeing.

#newlearning – To explore research possibilities in geography and education – I thought about doing an EdD after my MA but I couldn’t afford it at the time with London rents. But now…

In September my dream of doing an EdD came true and I’ve started the programme at the University of Birmingham. My research is focused on how we support early career teachers to improve teacher retention. It’s very early days and there’s a lot of reading, researching and writing between me and a completed thesis but I’m thoroughly enjoying every second.

#newvoice – To continue reading, reflecting and writing about geography and education.

I’ve continued writing and, to my amazement, people have continued to read and publish my musings both online and in print. I’ve found writing has helped me develop my ideas and given me the opportunity to reflect on my practice. I’d previously worked in places where exploring new ideas and developing my own opinions and perspectives wasn’t encouraged and CPD was something other people got to do – being on the leadership team means people think you don’t need CPD anymore in many schools (blatantly not true but a reality for many). Now I’m encouraged to research, read and reflect to bring new ways of thinking into our discussions at school and it’s definitely contributed significantly to making me love teaching again. Through becoming a Specialist Leader of Education and a Chartered Geographer (Teacher) this year I’ve also found another way to widen my contributions to education and my experiences to write about.

#newhome – To enjoy settling into a new city and being closer to family.

From walks through the countryside to antique fairs to Christmas markets, I’ve enjoyed spending more time exploring my where I live and continuing to be able to spend more time with family nearby. I’m not going to pretend I’ve never felt lonely in a town where I didn’t know anyone when I moved here but I’m starting to get to know people and find different activities to do in the town; starting the EdD has also introduced me to a new circle of people and now I no longer work insane hours I actually have time to spend with the new people I meet.

#newphilosophy – Work. Save. Travel. Repeat. Next stop, South Africa at Easter.

I have (obviously!) kept up my travelling as much as possible; South Africa at Easter and Namibia and Germany (Munich) in the summer. I’ve blogged lots about how travelling reinvigorates me and contributes to my wellbeing and, in turn, make me a better teacher and leader because I’m happy and rested. It feeds my desire to see as much of the word as possible and gives me plenty of photos, anecdotes and facts to share with my students to liven up my Geography lessons.

So what’s next for 2018? In a way I think 2018 needs to be the year I slow down a bit. I wouldn’t change a thing about the rollercoaster that’s been the last two years and I know that I am physically, mentally and emotionally stronger today than I ever imagined was possible back in 2015 when I decided to up sticks and start again. But I do think it’s time to relax and enjoy the life I’ve made for myself – after all that’s why I did it!

#teaching – To focus on ‘will this have an overwhelmingly positive impact on staff and students?’ when considering something new and only, in the words of @leadinglearner, bring something in if it’s a 9 or 10 out of 10!

#learning – To focus on reading, researching, reflecting and writing to develop my contributions to the wider world of education, generally, focused on geography and academically through my EdD.

#enjoy – To make sure I stop and take the time to thoroughly enjoy the life I’ve created in the Midlands.

Here’s to an adventure-filled 2018!

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