Thursday, 23 July 2015

A Teacher's Summer Holiday #Summer10

This Monday in assembly I challenged all my kids to complete as many challenges from a list of 40 I compiled, vowing that I to will have a go. Can be found here: 
Now I love a challenge and will definitely give it a go however here is a more realistic ten that aim to do over the holidays, like Rachel (who inspired me to do this) I have 9 life ones and one school one #Summer10
1) Wash my car inside and out - it's not pretty at all! 
2) Relax and unwind - something I'm generally not very good with but I need to try. I think walks, trips to the beach and using my new colouring book from a child could help! 
3) Catch up with friends and family - having more time to see and do things with important people. 
4) Read 6 books- on my list so far is 'Bridesmaids' by Jane Costello and a Growth mindset book by Carol Dweck- any suggestions gratefully received! 
5) Run more - it's my mission to run from my house to the top of the Trundle, Goodwood! 
6) Bake and cook more - missing this at the moment and missing my healthy eating lifestyle so looking forward to getting back on it again. 
7) Tidy and declutter- I have a huge pile of paperwork that needs sorting! 
8) Spend more time down the allotment with Matt- love being outdoors and want to actually grow something successfully! 
9) Visit new places -  not going on a holiday abroad this summer so I want to visit new places in the UK! 
10) Paint my classroom and help out improving our school garden. 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

It's Great to be British

 This week my school ran a 'Great to be British' week in response to the Governments push on teaching children British values and the new geography national curriculums objectives on the United Kingdom. Being an avid geographer, planning this week was something I really wanted to take on and I wanted to ensure that the children had ample opportunities to learn about the UK creatively and inspire a sense of awe and wonder about the lands we live in. The week enabled the children to explore the concept of what it means to be British as well as showing team work, creativity and excellence in the work they produced linked the 4 countries of the UK. It was such an amazing week and the quality of work produced, you would have never thought it was the penultimate week of term! Teachers and children were amazing! 

So what did we do? 

Day 1 was focused on exploring the British values. The headteacher launched the day with an assembly and a quiz challenge about the UK for the classes to complete. Back in classes the children explored their own ideas about what 'Being British' means. The responses my children gave me were 'Tea, the Queen, Big Ben, roast dinners, fish and chips' to name but a few! I then introduce the 4 main British values:
1) Democracy
2) Law
3) Freedom
4) Respect and Tolerance
We discussed them through philosophy style questions such as 'Is it ever ok to break the law?' And again I was blown away by their sensible, mature and well thought through discussions. These discussions were going on throughout the school before years 3 and 5 focused on Law and years 4 and 6 Democracy. Years 3 and 5 wrote their own laws before staging mock court rooms. Year 4 and 6 were set the tricky task of making up their own political parties. They had to write their own manifestos, leaders speeches and create campaign posters. It was a tricky thing to do and needed a lot of background support however the Year 4s rose to the challenge and by the end of the day the year 6s had come down to vote for their political party. Next year I think year 4 would be better writing manifestos for ruling a school not a country as they did find it tricky. Each year group shared their learning across the week in designated sharing assemblies. 

So the rest of the week?

The rest of the week was dedicated to teaching the geography national curriculum objective: 

We decided that each year group would focus on the human, physical and cultural geography of each of the 4 countries of the United Kingdom:
Year 3- England
Year 4: Wales
Year 5: Scotland
Year 6: Northen Ireland
The key idea was that each year group would have a rotating system where one teacher would teach all the physical geography, one the human geography and one the cultural geography. The idea being that this would save time and resources and the children would rotate round over a few days ensuring all areas covered. The quality of teaching and learning was amazing! Here is a taster of the some of the activities:
Year 3 and England: Pop up tourist maps of places to visit in the UK, giant cardboard box models of key landmarks, country dancing...

Year 4 and Wales: 3D physical maps of Wales made from plasticine; researching Welsh mining and producing information books about Wales; speaking Welsh, making paper daffodil models and baking Wmelsh cakes..

Year 5 and Scotland: making models of Scottish key landmarks; designing their own kilts, researching St Andrew and the Loch Ness monster...

Year 6 and Northern Ireland: investigating how the Giants cause way was made and making plasticine models depicting this! 

At the end of the week the children shared their work in a sharing assembly. 

The final day of the week was our joint campus day with the nursery and infant school. The morning began with years 4 and 6 meeting Alan Mak, Mp for Hayling and Havang. They suitable grilled him with their questions and he spoke about life as a politician.  Then the children all took part in a 'Great British Bake off' making scones, Eton mess and trifles! They made British bunting which was hung all around field in preparation for a great British picnic in the afternoon. We were joined by a bagpipe player who played to all the children before years 3 and 6 shared their Country dancing and Irish dancing. 
 The atmosphere around the school all week was electric. The buzz of learning and creativity filled the corridors. The children learnt so much and produced fantastic pieces of work, all the hard work and planning was so worthwhile. The British values are embedded into our own school values but having weeks like this allow us to focus on them, readdress them and remember just how great it is to be British!! 

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Looking back, looking forward #Nurture1415

So another year has past and here I am, in a hotel room in Belfast, looking back at 2014 and looking excitedly on to 2015. Reading my last years Nurture post, I've definitely accomplished most of what I hoped to achieve this year although I still need to blog more, read more and go to more football games, oh yeah and full in love! 

So in brief, here's my looking back at 2014:

1) Making a difference as a year leader - So I completed my first year as a Year Leader, being part of the SLT and leading changes to the new Geography and Computing curriculum, and I've loved it. Being a driver of change and seeing the benefits it has had to the education of children outside my own classroom has been an amazing and exciting experience, one I can't wait to continue with next year!

2) A fitter, healthier me - This year I've completed even more runs and races in new locations (Wembley Run to the Beat, Brighton Brooks 10k, Warrior Run) with old and new running buddies! Half way though the year, I was introduced to the Clean 9 healthy eating programme which has helped me lose a few pounds, drink more water and eat more healthily! It's amazing the benefits of aloe! 

3) Reconnecting with family more - This year has been a year of getting closer to my family through various reasons. My nan had a nasty fall and broke her hip which led to lots of hospital visits. My cousin, Annette, has spent most the year in hospital without a hip and this year I've spent lots of time with her, keeping her spirits up and reminiscing about the past. Finally, after dressing up as Dory for my cousin, Donna's, 30th birthday party we decided to go on holiday together. We spent a week in Dubrovnik, Croatia and had the best time away together- sharing a mutual love of cocktails, Olly Murs, eating, chilling, fun and adventure! I've loved the time spent with my immeadiate family- my sisters 30th birthday celebrations were also a highlight too. 

4) Fun with friends- This has been another year of fun times withfabulous  friends:Festivals, hen parties, weddings, birthdays, races, staying in a cottage on the Isle of a White, New Forest camping - thank you all for a fun filled year! 

5) Working towards a better work/ balance - this year I have definitely tried to maintain a good work life balance ensuring I work hard but also spend time having a life outside of school! Long may it continue!

So what I am looking forward to in 2015? 

1) Setting up my own mini-business selling Aloe Forever Living products!!

2) Being a bridesmaid for the first time ever!! So privelledged and honoured to be a big part of my friend Michelle's big day! 

3) Running my first half marathon!! Eek! 

4) To take greater responsibility in my teaching career- maybe that next step at some point?! If not, developing my career further to make a difference beyond my classroom and being a better leader. 

5) Continuing to love life and embrace new experiences and opportunities they bring, wherever they take me! I will endeavour to Keep a good work life balance and see family and friends as much as possible! It's a year of big birthdays in our family so I'm sure lots of fun to be had!

Also I hope to watch more football, blog and read more

So that's me done for 2014, all I have left to say, as I set about preparing for a night of fun and celebration, is Happy New Year everyone!! Here's to an exciting and bright 2015! 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Working walls - not just wallpaper!

So working walls –when used well they become an integral part of the learning process, used badly they become terrible wallpaper. Until this year, working walls were pretty much an unused tool in my teaching toolkit until I moved to a school which lives and breathes working walls and now I can’t imagine life without one. Here is my low down on what I think makes a good working wall (and I am still learning and improving this!)

So why have a working wall?

In the past, teachers have used their wall displays for a multitude of reasons: to celebrate great work, topic display boards of maths and English vocabulary walls (VCOP!). However working walls offer a more purposeful use of the classroom display which offers a richer learning environment for the children. Working walls are an interactive wall which can be used to record, visualise and assist learning- to me an underused teaching resource. Working walls allow a learning journey to be shared from a starting point to an end point. Within in that journey, clear steps of the progress will be shared and displayed along with examples of good practise and scaffolded models with clear success criteria’s. They should be a flexible tool that allows innovation and evolution from the children and the teacher. A good, well used working wall can effectively create an independent learning environment where the children use the wall as much, if not more, than as much as they use the teacher.
So what makes an effective working wall?

They must ultimately be child led. The success of a working wall lies heavily on the involvement of the children and how a teacher encourages them to take ownership of the wall and their own learning which will mean the walls become used and less like decorative wall paper. Children will use a resource that they have managed and organised themselves and invested time and effort in.  If they do not see its value, the children will not use it so they must be involved in it from start to finish. Children in my class now ask me to change the theme of our literacy working wall linked to the theme or topic we are learning, showing their engagement and desire to be part of every process of the wall making. I often have a working party of children that help me change the learning journey for maths every Monday or at the start of a new journey ready for the next one.  

The children need to take pride in their working wall and it should become an integral part of the lesson. Refer to it always and praise children who independently use it to support their learning, which will ultimately encourage others to follow. If the children see you valuing their work and adding it to the working wall as best practise, a culture of achievement will follow where children are engaged in the learning and will also seek to have their work displayed on the wall.  The more you use the working wall and build it into the lesson planning, the more the children will see how each lesson fits within the concept there are learning and where it is taking them. For example, during any one lesson the children should be able to state their WALT for the lesson and share how it is linked to the bigger picture – the ultimate end goal at the end of the unit of work, they do this by referring to the working wall. During a unit of work on play scripts, they children understood that a lesson on adverbs would help them write clearer stage directions which will ultimately help them reach their end goal of writing a play script of Harry Potter for J K Rowling.

What should be included in a working wall?

A working wall should evolve. It should start empty and as the learning journey progresses over the days and week it should be added to and developed by the children and the teacher. It should at no time be pretty. Don’t get me wrong, I love being creative with my displays but they start off looking nice, enticing the children to the board, and soon they become covered in learning which is used by the children.

There should be a clear audience, purpose and outcome displayed so they children know where they are heading to and why, particularly on the English wall however this could easily be added to a maths wall. For example on a unit on writing to entertain, the audience was to Year 3 children, the purpose was to entertain and the outcome was to write a funny short story for year 3 children. Once children know where they are going, the learning journey and WALTs will demonstrate to the children the steps of how to get there, for example step 1: WALT: Identify the feature of an entertaining story. Step 2: WALT Use dialogue to create entertaining characters (this step will have its own success criteria linked to speech marks and dialogue writing which may last several lessons). I could continue further along the journey but I think you get the idea!

Modelled examples showing the different stages of the writing process for word and sentence level activities to mind maps, drafting and editing should be displayed. The examples should come from both the teacher and the children. It is vital to display the children’s work as examples and WAGOLLs (What A Good One Looks Like) so they children can see the steps are attainable and also seeing their work displayed allows successes to be celebrated. It is also good practise for the teacher to write their own setting high expectations. WAGOLLS and scaffolded models do not need to be pretty – scraps of paper, photocopies of children’s work, visualiser print outs, whiteboards, flip chart paper – whatever way of getting the work up, it doesn’t matter as long as a wall of visual prompts develops. Post it notes are a great way to involve the children using the working wall, they promote engagement and allow children to independently add to the wall at key points in the journey/ lesson. Use multiple examples of work or steps in the journey. You can take these down as the journey progresses but it is important for the children to see several examples to inspire them. On my English wall, I have ‘Ingredients for Magic Writing’ where the success criteria is split into organisational features and language features, this is also developed and evolves along the learning journey.
 Key vocabulary needs to be a vital part of the working wall alongside other generic models that can aid support the children in their learning. The working wall should be a visual toolkit for the children to utilise at any point of the day.

Let the children track their progress along the working wall. I have seen different versions of this in different classes in the school. Some teachers use a symbol which the children move along to show which step the class is on along the learning journey. I, however, recognising that all children learn at different paces, use names on post it notes, and the children move themselves along the journey based on their own progress. This really allows for a more individualised approach for each child, so they know where their next step is. I always include challenges and extensions for those children that reach the end of a journey more quickly than others. This method works particularly well on a maths working wall.

Word of warning!
Only start a working wall if you have support from your headteacher, remember they are not meant to be pretty so if you have a headteacher who advocates neatness and mounting, working walls will not work for you!

So in summary, an effective working wall must:
  •           Be child led – children should value and use it!
  •         Show the starting point and an end point to a leaning journey.
  •           Visually display the steps along the journey with modelled  examples including teacher examples and children’s work.
  •         Be included in the planning and referred to throughout the lesson.
  •          Be flexible and not pretty!
Working walls have been a wonderful addition to my teachers toolkit and are now a strong part of my everyday teaching! I have even begun to use working walls for other subjects such as ICT and Geography- watch this space!! 

Useful articles

Here is a useful articles I found on the TES Website regarding  working walls:

Here are some photos of my working walls at the start of the journey- yes they do look pretty but trust me they do not stay that way!! 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Muddling through the middle!

Well, I set up this blog many months ago with the sole intention of documenting my first year in middle leadership however, it is clear by my lack of posts that this year has been a busy one and it's only just half way through! It is my intention, now that I have a bit more time, to write the many post titles I have had stored in my head over the last few months which may be of interest to some and will be a great release for my full mind! So here I start, with 'Muddling through the middle' - blog title and post title, because I have been exactly doing that!

Early days
So let's start at the beginning - September 2013 where I began my new role as a Year 4 leader of a three form entry Junior School. I had been at my previous school for six years, and time had come for me to stop hitting my head on the glass ceiling in to leadership and venture, scarily, into the unknown - a new school. It became apparent very quickly, that starting a new school again, be it as a leader or not, was going to be challenging. I suddenly felt, very much so, like an NQT again. Not in regards to the teaching and classroom management, you can apply this anywhere to a degree, it was the structures, organisation and routines of a completely different school. Over the years, I had completely taken lots of things for granted, like knowing assembly routines; where you had to be and when and who people were. I was part of this amazing special bubble of people - parents, governors, children and staff; where everyone knew me and I knew them. I knew the school inside out and I always felt that I was a leader with out the name badge! In this new school - I needed one just so I could learn new names and faces. That was my first mission, to get to know my Year 4 team initially, the children and then the rest of the staff. My year team, particularly my teaching assistants, were to be my saving grace in the first few weeks. They helped me get to grips with the time table, where you and the children had to be and when (this may sound ridiculous, but trust me when your classroom is the furthest away from the school hall and you can't hear the bell ring, you need the assistance of others!) By week two, I was still struggling to keep up with the new routines and different ways of doing things, however I am a fast learner and the children were great at helping me out.

A breakthrough!
Week three was my break through week as I managed to get myself, and the children, to all the right places and all the right times. It seems like such a crazy achievement to be proud of, but I was. You really are not prepared for how hard it is to move schools especially when you were so established in your old one. However, I moved for the challenge and I was definitely getting that. The one thing I struggled with the most, was how I could possible lead four members of staff on things that I was still myself getting to grips with. So I was honest. I said this was all new to me, as a leader,  and if I did or said anything there were worried or unsure about, then they must not hesitate to let me know, they had to be honest with me too. If I made mistakes, which I am sure I would, they needed to let me know. I honestly believe, you are only as strong as the team around you, and I wanted to nurture a strong team which has the children, in our year group, at the heart of it. Investing time in getting to know your colleagues is such a valuable resource for any leader. Knowing who they are and their motivations and goals for the school and it's children is key in developing a positive work life ethic. I wanted everyone to feel included and valued, so team meetings, daily catch ups and even sociable drinks at the end of the day all add to this vision, cupcakes help too! I had to set my authority too as a leader, that although I wanted to be friendly and approachable, I was also in charge. This is probably the hardest part of leadership, and I am not sure how I am going with that - perhaps I should ask my team! However, the respect me and my decisions so I must be doing something right! :-) The feedback I have received from my Headteacher has been overwhelmingly positive, which when I received this really did put my mind at rest that I was on the right track.

Leadership responsibilities - not as bad as I thought!
My leadership responsibilities have actually been easier to take on then I first thought. Many of them, I was doing already in my previous school such as rigorous pupil progress meetings. Looking at data, monitoring progress and setting up interventions is something I am not new too, and I actually enjoy number crunching. So doing this for 83 children is not too daunting at all, the hard part is that I do not teach them all so you need to have great faith in your teaching team, ensuring all children's needs are met whether you teach them or not.

In the past, I have completed observations before however not learning walks and book sampling, so these have been two new areas of leadership I have taken on. My first book scrutiny, I really had no idea what I was doing. I followed the lead questions and wrote it up to the best of my ability having not seen an example of one. It wasn't until the Head completed a book scrutiny of my books when I realised what I had to do, so my second scrutiny was more thorough and specific. Again, muddling through but getting there in the end. The Head was really pleased with my recent feedback and it is great to see your colleagues improving their practise as a result of your feedback as well as the impact it has on the children they teach. I am really looking forward to developing this further into classroom observations again.

The bringer of change
Being new to a school, you want to bring new ideas and suggestions, and although I was itching to do these I was very aware of not over doing it and becoming that annoying eager person. I often felt I had to hold my tongue from saying 'In my old school' especially as sometimes things that would have worked in my old school might not necessarily be appropriate or useful in my new school. So I decided on a drip by drip approach, make small changes to my year group, with the headteachers backing. So I did and it soon became apparent that my changes were not always welcomed.  This is one thing I really have found hard, being the enthusiastic new girl who embraces change and brings in a creative approach to teaching to an old regime still stuck in QCA units of work. I knew it was going to be hard, the Head warned me of this, but I don't think I realised how hard it was going to be. Some people find change difficult and I totally understand that, but when change is for the good of the children then it is needed. I think the school realised how different I was when I turned the whole of Year 4 into the Polar Express and children came in dressed in Pyjamas, the school had never really done dressing up before. The children loved it, my teaching assistants cried (tears of joy) and the learning was amazing. The children loved coming to school because we were doing things differently. I had come from a school where being creative in the way you teach and the children learn was the norm and was encouraged as long as there was real learning and progress. For example, to hook children into learning about the Tudors, we re-enacted the battle of Bosworth on the school field. Every child had a real part and name and the quality of historical knowledge that they learnt was outstanding. This then led to detailed and inspired pieces of writing. Awe and wonder moments, something my new school was crying out for and I was slowly bringing this in, along with a few others. However, this approach is hard work - it involves extra time and resources, but it is so worthwhile. This is, I am sure, what puts off many teachers and I don't blame them in an age when we have data and progress pressures to contend with, the fun side of teaching gets squished out. So I can see why many of my new colleagues might begrudge the things I was doing, and although they never said anything, you can tell: the quiet staffrooms, the small conversation. It was confirmed to me on a night out with my year team, when one of them said 'You are hated but it is because they are intimidated of you'. I laughed it off, but it does hurt. My friend said that part of being a leader is there will always be people that don't agree with you and dislike your decisions, which I understand. However, to be disliked by my approach to teaching is tough, but I smile and thicken my skin and keep doing what I am doing. After all it is all about the children and I have a happy cohort of children, who are excited and eager to come to school to learn. My headteacher is supportive of the changes I have made and we both look forward to a new curriculum where further changes across the whole school can be evolved. I know now that I am not the only one in the school and the acceptance to change is really now beginning to radiate across all. The good thing for me is I feel less disliked! Change is coming, whether people like it or not and people can love me or hate me for embracing it!

This only touches the surface of my first two terms as a middle leader and there is so much more I could write about and share, and I will at some point. I have enjoyed my new role and the new things I have learnt along the way. I do wish someone had written a guide book to support me in my role but I have learnt from my mistakes which have only made my practice stronger. I will continue to muddle through the middle, although I now definitely feel less muddled and more in control - long may it continue!

Tuesday, 31 December 2013


2013 has simply been a manic year but equally unforgettable. A year of change and new experiences so I here are my #Nurture1314:

1)  Turning 30 - I turned 30 at the beginning of the year and it was the best birthday so far. I was surprised many times by friends and family with their secret plots resulting in me seeing my birthday in our Nation’s capital in style! I was worried about turning 30 as so far my twenties had been amazing. However turning 30 has been great and I am excited by what my thirties will bring. This year has seen many of my friends also turning 30 and many gatherings and celebrations have ensued; a weekend away in Dorset with my University pals is one highlight of those.

2) 30 things – I madly decided to complete 30 ridiculous challenges across the year to raise money for Arthritis Research UK and these alone have made for an unforgettable year ( The challenges have ranged from fun events, such as going to Harry Potter World, to physically gruelling challenges. I think climbing Mount Snowdon on Hallowe’en against gusts of 40-50mph was a standout challenge and an experience I will never forget.  What the challenges really showed me is the importance of friendship. I would never have completed many of them without friends and family supporting and encouraging me along the way. Some were crazy enough to join in with them and without those people, you know who you are, then some of the challenges would never have happened – trying to do a one mile rollerskate onesie wearing flashmob by your self doesn’t really work! Thank you to all those wonderful people who have helped, supported and donated!
3) Outstanding  - This is my word of the year and pretty much sums the year up for me – 2013 has been outstanding personally and at work. As a teacher, I truly believe that it was this year that it clicked for me what outstanding teaching and learning was. It wasn’t a result of our Ofsted visit two days before the end of the Summer half term,; it was a visit we had from our head teacher’s sister, a headteacher at a local school, who had just been through Ofsted. She had offered to come and observe us teaching and proactively throughout the lesson gave feedback and advice to ‘Ofsted proof’ our lessons. So I prepared an all singing and all dancing Maths lesson, which I had been previously been led to believe is what Ofsted would be looking for (Add in the Britain’s Got Talent ‘No’ sound effect here!)  What Ofsted are looking for is what I do each and every day – juggling plates and spinning off different learning in different directions. So after she said my lesson was good with elements of outstanding, she then declared she wanted to pop in and see my English after break! Bugger! I had spent so long on the Maths my English was a bare plan in my head. So I did what I normally do – send that group off, move on that group – spin, spin, spin, and she said it was outstanding. It dawned on me Ofsted don’t want to see the magic touches, they want to see the magic learning something I had been doing all along but never had the confidence in believing I had to do these all singing and dancing lessons. So when Ofsted came calling, I fine-tuned and tweaked lessons I would normally do and as a result I received ‘outstanding’ two lesson observations – credit totally going to a superb class of hardworking children eager to learn. They truly were the outstanding ones. My school received the accolade it overwhelmingly deserved and I have never felt prouder to work with such a wonderful, hard-working, talented and outstanding colleagues and friends.

4) Olly Murs – This year it was one of my challenges to meet the man of my dreams and I did. Meeting Olly Murs in the middle of the night in Brighton didn’t have the romantic grandeurs I had hoped, and I, to him, was just a face amongst many in the crowd however he made my year! He posed for a picture and signed my ticket and spoke a few words. Sadly he did not fall madly in love with me at first sight probably the tired, mid-week teacher eyes didn’t help that! I still believe Olly is my lobster and blame him entirely for my lack of ability to find anyone else who compares!!

5) New job – The 23rd of July was without doubt the most emotional day of the year for me as it was the day I left St James, the school I had been teaching at for just over 6 years. St James was my second home which had nurtured and developed my teaching career like caring parents. I started there as a mere PGCE student under the watchful eye of my dear friend Rob Gallop and they decided they wanted to keep me. Like any family, the school had its good days and bad days however the fun and friendships truly outweighed the bad. St James’ will always have a special place in my heart as there is ‘nowhere like St James’. It was the hardest decision I have ever made to leave, however I knew the time was right for me to move on and up the career ladder. So I hopped across the water to Hayling Island where I am now a Year Leader, ICT and Geography Leader and part of the SLT! It’s a challenge and a change however one I was ready for and I have grabbed with full force. I think they think I am bonkers, and I think they think I am mad however my kids are happy, my team are happy and the Head is happy so I must be doing something right!  J

6) Keeping fit – 2013 has certainly been my fittest year! I have never been a runner however I have managed to clock up over 200 miles of running alone! I have taken part in 4 10k runs (Chichester, Bognor, Bupa 10,000, Chestnut Tree) and my biggest triumph the very windy Great South Run in 1 hr 43 minutes! Throughout the year I have had many wonderful running partners as running became more of a social event rather than a keep fit one. I have found I love running and as a teacher it’s been a great place to unwind from the day! I still continued to play stoolball and hit my first ever boundary this year! I tried new sports like Ultimate Frisbee and even cycled 70 miles around the Isle of Wight! Things I never thought I could ever do. I am looking forward to more sporting activities in 2014!

7) Cooking – I love food and this year, through my 30 things, I have been cooking different meals from different countries around the world. Some of them have been tasty some less so but it has reminded me how much I love cooking and baking! Cupcakes are turning into my signature dish!

8) New friends – This has been a year of dear friends and new friends. Over the year, friends have been there for me through my challenges and along the way I have met even more – I am very blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people. I have been to some amazing weddings and 30th birthday celebrations. Many of my friends have brought little people into the world and it has been wonderful to be part of their lives. This year has seen many engagements and I am so happy and excited for all those taking a step down the aisle in 2014.

9) Being happy in my skin – I've always been one of those people who outwardly look like a confident person however this mask covers an inside of self-doubt, low confidence and self-belief. Those days seem few and far between. Turning 30 and completing my 30 things has given me the confidence that I can do anything if I set my mind to it and believe in myself. I have started to like myself a lot more and have become more confident in my own skin and mind – this needs to continue in 2014.

10) Music – Music makes me happy and nothing can be finer than listening to live music. So this year has been filled with music – a growing CD collection (Ben Howard, The Lumineers and Bastille are my favourites from this year) but also a growing concert list. I have seen Olly 3 times at least this year!! The Script, Capital One Summertime Ball and Robbie Williams headline my music from 2013!

11) Twitter –2013 has definitely been the year of Twitter. Twitter has introduced me to some wonderful educators who care about children and learning. It has been a constant source of inspiration and answers.   I have attended several TeachMeets and presented at them as well as ran my own TeachMeet with the lovely Mr Addison. I went to the BETT show for the first time and look forward to going again in 2014. Twitter will always be my friend, I might not see it for a while, but when I do it is always there for me.

12) Car-this year,came the time that my trusty Angelina finally could not go on any more and after several reliable years and 160 miles of memories it was time to say goodbye.  So I emptied out my savings and bought Frankie, it was about time I think!

13.   Learning new things - This year has been about me showing how as a teacher and human being learning is for life. I have learnt many new skills and things from a new language to playing the ukulele. As a teacher I am constantly learning to better my practise and will always continue to do so. I love learning and making learning fun for the children I teach. I wonder what I will learn in 2014?

So after a crazy 2013, what are my hopes for 2014?

1.       Have more time to chill – This Christmas has really reminded me the importance of having time to rest and reflect (even the Queen said so!)
2.       See my friends and family more particularly those friends that live far away – I am looking forward to some UK road trips!
3.       Keep running!
4.       To cook even more exciting new recipes and dishes and have more dinner parties!
5.       To complete my first year as a Middle Leader in a new school, continuing to learn and improve my teaching practise for the benefit of the children I teach. Make the right impact.
6.       To create my own teaching blog and share some of my mad and crazy ideas and thoughts!
7.       Read more books – I miss reading!
8.       To go on holiday somewhere amazing.
9.       To watch more football and go to more games.
10.   To fall in love.
11.   Being not afraid to speak my mind more.
12.    To listen to more live music.
13.   To eat breakfast more.
14.   To be happy!

Happy New Year everyone, I hope 2014 brings you all health and happiness and magic! 

My first post!

So here it is, it may be a term late but here is my 'muddle through the middle' a blog of my middle leader journey where I hope to share, waffle and inspire - I hope!

The name definitely sings true with my first term of leadership - a definite muddle through but still smiling and loving it. I will write more about that later on!

I hope to fill this blog with thoughts and ideas that may be of use to others and if not it will act as a place for mind to escape.

Enjoy the journey!