#Nurture1314 – my ’13 highlights and ’14 hopes, by @TeacherToolkit

Reading Time: 9 minutes

I take great delight observing grass-root ideas evolve through teacher-blogs. This initial idea by @ChocoTzar kicked off in December 2012 and is appearing to have established itself as an end of year review for many teacher-bloggers. It’s great to welcome so many new teachers to blogging and #Nurture1314

Here is #Nurture1314 – my ’13 highlights and ’14 hopes, by @TeacherToolkit.

In December 2012, I wrote my #Nurture1213 highlights here and will be using this as a reference throughout. I had actually anticipated #Nurture1314 with my very own Educational #HighsAndLows from 2013. It took a fairly long time to compose and details everything education (for me) throughout 2013. It may serve as a more professional distraction if that is what you are looking for. However, if the reader has already got this far; I’m assuming you want to get to know a little bit more about me and my thinking!?

My hopes/highlights from 2013:

1. Deputy Headteacher: One year ago, using social-media, I published my intentions to look for a DHT post in Scotland. Much has happened since January 2014 and I will be publishing a very-juicy separate blogpost in January 2013. Please hold tight – there is much to share!

2. My son: In 2013, I continued to hope that my son would grow up into a happy and healthy little boy. You can see an Autumn 2013 recent update on his own premature blog here; now with over 140,000 views! He is a true blessing and a miracle-boy. He is real evidence, that the human body can survive against all the odds.

@FreddieWM & @RossMcGill
@FreddieWM & @RossMcGill

3. My wife: has returned back to work and has now completed a full-year (5 days a week) after maternity leave. With all the shenanigans, created by me on Twitter; blogging and writing – as well as a busy senior leadership job – she is my rock. I was delighted to share my 40th with her recently and I would NOT be who I am online, without her back-room support.

4. Education: My hopes for the profession to receive a positive message (via the media) has been quashed. This is over-shadowed by the relentless changes that he DfE have put in place.

We do little to support ourselves, with the online bickering we bash to-and-fro at each other! I was delighted to read @headguruteacher’s post recently, 10 Reasons to Love Teaching. This is what we need more of!

I can also tell you; that the DfE and Ofsted have emailed me personally to ask for my advice (don’t fall off your chair or drop your phone!) on using social-media better. They are keen and are interested; so it is vital, that we are collective; poignant and precise! I will be sharing @OfstedNews emails very soon!

5. #TTkitThunks: A challenge I set myself in 2013, I am yet to achieve. I’m currently up to Thunk number 30. You can read them all here. Please get in touch if you’d like to write one and have it published on my blog. Headteacher, @StephenDrew72 wrote ‘Dear Parent’ and has had over 10,000 readers so far! Maybe even turn the collection into a free Kindle book?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

6. TeachMeets: In 2013, I organised 11 #TMLondon and #SLTeachMeet events! Inspiring, but incredibly time-consuming! Over one year ago, I was first stepped into the water at TMEssex and have since provided this TeachMeet overview (using my CPD leader hat) for new startups, following successful #TMLondon’s and #SLTeachMeet’s across the UK.

7. Family: Since I left home to start teacher-training as a young 19-year-old, I have managed to see my family 3 or 4 times throughout the year. As time moves forward, this is increasingly important to me – as it would be for any family – to reduce the 200 miles we live apart. I am blessed to have a happy family.

8. Drink and eat: I guess I wrote this in 2013 as a continuum for happy health. I love my food and drink – like most people – but I take great pride in eating healthy for work and home. I have managed to achieve this! I’m snacking now as I write this and lunch is soon to be served!

9. Cook: I do not teach Food Technology this year, so I am not currently teaching a subject I love. What a difference this makes to your day-to-day happiness in the classroom!? However, I love cooking at home and continue to be inspired by my wife and the hundreds of cookbooks we collect.

10. Writing: Well, I managed to achieve all I hoped for! My first book; I almost made the tabloid papers for The Guardian, and posted an article that did arouse an element of controversy! (No links here I’m afraid) Chuffed that 100 Ideas made in to number 28 on the top-100 best-sellers list!

100 Ideas - 28th on Amazon

11. Read: I love reading and had failed miserably to be captured by anything concrete throughout the year that has moved me pedagogically. I have really enjoyed books by @Hywel_Roberts; @TomBennett71 and @ICTEvangelist but think I am one of a few, that was so disappointed with Carol Dwecks’ Mindset book? I became even more disappointed when I met her in the flesh! Fortunately, @RichardGerver has recaptured my love for pedagogical-shift with ‘Change‘.

12. Twitter: One highlight was exposing the sharing of teacher resources on @TESResources. I exposed how teachers lose their Moral Rights and Intellectual property when uploading. This caused the TES to call in their team of lawyers and totally overhaul their terms and conditions. A coup for grass-root blogging! Enough said! Move over here and press follow and join in the debate …

13. Pipedreams: We are a little closer to this dream below. Refer to number 1 above and 4 and 5 below.

Farm house

My hopes for 2014:

1. To say more about what I really think. I am far too polite online and do see my @TeacherToolkit presence as an extension of my professionalism. However, with the old-hat that Twitter now is; with it, brings trolling; bullying; mob-mentality and melancholy! My hopes for 2014, is for my readers to start to see the real-me; my opinion and more teeth! It is all too easy to cause a stir from a retweet or a blogpost requital.

growl-dog

Teaching is hard enough without online-colleagues adding to the mix. There is debate and contribution, versus provocation and ignorance. I know what I do and want my followers to share. I have already started a Twitter-cull. Breed negativity = expect to be cut! (See number 9 below)

2. For me, everything is all about the power of social media. I dream that 2014 is the year, where teachers come together online and move top-down policy. There is a wealth of great practice shared online. Superb ideas; superb blogs! It is now time for us too invest our social-media energy into shaping government policy in a meaningful way … I will be sharing my views with The Guardian next week.

3. Having just received two further book contacts through the post, I hope that I manage to find the time to balance a meaningful book that makes the lives of teachers richer; whilst also refraining from isolating my own family and making a slight detriment in my own professional work. This will be my opportunity to contribute to the debate in detail – with my very own book format – with no dictated format or restrictions. Ideas welcome (as I need to start writing next week)!

4. Scotland and a Deputy Headteacher role. One year ago, I took a step into new territory and made my intentions online here. I have managed to use Twitter to look for a new job and so far, this has proved successful in terms of hunting. As a result, @MyEdHunt was born; but the right job is yet to be secured.

I have promised to blog about my Scotland excursions. I have been north of the border, no less than 6 times since July 2013. What I will share soon, will certainly expose a unique and totally different job-application process. One that I have discussed before. It promises to cause quite a stir(!), but the key goal here, is to find the right job in an ideal location.

I know I am ready. Circumstances and life has got in the way and there is no straight path to any new position. This will come in time. I used to think this would be in London somewhere, but the likelihood is, is that this will happen north of the border! It is my mission to make this happen in 2014. (See number 7 below).

@MyEdHunt - Tweet your school adverts to #MyEdHunt
@MyEdHunt – Tweet your school adverts to #MyEdHunt

If you are looking for work, or looking to fill a vacancy. Please tweet @MyEdHunt – a grass-roots idea that aims to compete (for free) with TES and Guardian jobs. I promise to retweet every message.

5. @SLTchat. I continue to be amazed by the popularity and usefulness of #SLTchat. The account now has over 8,000 followers and over 20 different hosts. It is time-consuming and I do hope for 2014, that I can find a partner in crime; perhaps someone to share the baton. Could that be you? The highlight here, is the DfE recognising the voice of senior leadership and capturing it all in this short video.

6. Teaching and learning. To keep at the forefront of policy; but to shape it at local and national level. It goes without saying, the my fundamental duty, is to raise standards of teaching and learning at my own school. We are on our way, but we are far from ‘consistently Good’ across the academy. As my inspirational Principal would say: “Get on with it!”

7. TeachMeets. I have promised myself that I will not organise another TeachMeet until I have secured my move to Scotland. Sorry folks, #Find_TTkit_A_Job is ‘the’ priority! As much as I love hosting them, I have taken a back seat and will only attend and present. Despite this promise, @SLTeachMeet already has 3 bookings for 2014 in Manchester; Stratford Upon Avon and in London. As for TMLondon – nothing is set for now – but, I do have a very unique plan for the next event that will topple-over the traditional format we have come to love.

On another professional development note; as a CPD leader for 150 staff, I have had to ensure my own personal and professional development is also paramount. So often when leading INSET at school, CPD leaders are left to rot behind the scenes; setting up catering and rooming layouts and speaker requests. I often find myself NOT in the room when organsing my very own staff INSET day. This is wrong! I need to change this. The challenge is also there to integrate a TeachMeet format into our own INSET days. Again, another blogpost is due soon on peer-to-peer fear!

8. CPD events: Believe it or not, I an inundated with requests to attend and speak at events. Most of this is paid work; but I have not said yes to any of them. Why? Setting cover; being away from my students and my own family. I have toiled with this decision countless times and have even considered going part-time at work, to dedicate one-day to external CPD events; writing and conferences.

I will make this jump one day; but not yet. In the meantime, I have found a happy medium with online webinars, which gives me the opportunity to work after school hours – or even at home. I have planned many topics for 2014. If you have a personal school request, contact me here.

'Do I really need to tweet?'
‘Do I really need to tweet?’

41,000

9. Twitter. This morning, my Twitter count just topped 41,000 followers. I am flabbergasted!

Yet, I know this comes at a price. I know @TeacherToolkit is just me and a simple channel to tweet thoughts; but having such a high-readership can be very demanding. There are countless requests to read this; read that. Retweet this; review that. All very flattering, but time-consuming.

Troll attacks are less frequent and many miss the point. Twitter is a text-message to the world. This tweet came in this morning and is an example of people not using Twitter as well as they could.

Twitter

My Twitter account will 99% of the time, remain professional; relevant; and will be a constant flurry of educational thought – even during the holidays. If you don’t like it – tough – please unfollow, or follow me personally where I tweet less often, and nothing much other, than what I’m eating or taking photographs of.

I love Twitter. I love tweeting.

On another Twitter note; I have two final points:

1. I will always look to share ideas from new users to Twitter; as well as new bloggers. We all have to start somewhere. I did and I will always do what I can to encourage others.

Twitter

2. Logical positivism: Twitterati and anonymity. Stop being so negative. Encourage and praise others. You know who you are; stop it. Stop it now!

10. Blogging. I will write a separate blogpost about this very topic shortly. As my own readership grows, there is a responsibility to be fair, transparent and balanced. On the flip-side, there is a perverse addiction about blog statistics; popularity and potent-content. This is only natural as teachers become even more passionate about blogging openly online. There are rewards to reap – as well as the downsides of online criticism – but, blogging can take over your life! As much as blogging has opened up so many doors for me, it can also hinder what is important. See numbers 11-14 below, where I express my hopes and the dichotomy of blogging during 2014.

11. To relax. I had promised myself last year; that I would not take any digital devices upstairs to bed! I have failed miserably! Why? Because it is all too easy to lay back and surf the web; tweet; blog; read and so on. This impacts on vital resting time and with a demanding job and an effervescent 2-year-old; sleep and well-being has never been so important. So, for 2014; I plan to leave all digital devices away from the bedroom and switch off.

A blog and tweet can wait and sometimes it’s good to remember, that the best things come to those that wait. Tweeting is all about timing and I am conscious that I tweet far too much! Less really IS more.

12. To establish a new hobby, away from a digital device. I love road-cycling and swimming; yet have not done neither for years! I have signed up to complete a Diploma in Journalism (and have all the resources ready to achieve this qualification) but it relies on me sitting at a computer. I would like to use this as a motivation for getting out and about ‘reporting’.

13. @JenniMcGill and @FreddieWM. The epicentre of my world! Enough said.

14. Family and friends. To continue to see my boisterous family – as well as those further afield in Scotland; Amsterdam; Barbados; Vancouver and Brisbane – and make more time to catch up with friends. A happy soul, is a happy teacher indeed!

What promised to be a simple list, has become a thesis.

So, if you got this far, well done(!) and thank you for reading. Now, the reflections move over to the new book … Happy New Year !

.

Ross – @TeacherToolkit

@TeacherToolkit

In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account in which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated for '500 Most Influential People in Britain' in The Sunday Times as one of the most influential in the field of education - he remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing online as @TeacherToolkit, he rebuilt this website (c2008) into what you are now reading, as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the number one spot at the UK Blog Awards (2018). Today, he is currently a PGCE tutor and is researching 'social media and its influence on education policy' for his EdD at Cambridge University. In 1993, he started teaching and is an experienced school leader working in some of the toughest schools in London. He is also a former Teaching Awards winner for 'Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School, London' (2004) and has written several books on teaching (2013-2018). Read more...

15 thoughts on “#Nurture1314 – my ’13 highlights and ’14 hopes, by @TeacherToolkit

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  • 28th December 2013 at 8:28 pm
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    Congratulations on everything you have achieved this year. It has been a real pleasure following you as well as reading your blogs (and your book). The 5 minute lesson plan has made a huge difference to the quality of teaching and learning in my classroom at the tail end of this year. Since going in to SMT I have been aware that the quality of my T&L was slipping. The 5 min plan has got me back on track and has helped me turn the lesson in the scheme of work into something personal for the class in front if me. It has had real “stickability”. Good luck in 2014,
    Damian

    Reply
    • 28th December 2013 at 8:38 pm
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      Hi Damian – thanks for taking the time to write a response. I do know that teaching can suffer with the workload demands of SLT. This is why ‘stickability’ has been fundamental for me! Do share your own highlights if you blog. Happy New Year!

      Reply
  • 29th December 2013 at 9:53 am
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    Wow. Ross, you’ve achieved so much. I’m always impressed with your enthusiasm and capacity to make things happen. I referred to you as the twitter epicentre (for me) when you had 10K followers..but 41K – that’s just immense. I’m glad to have been part of #SLTchat…I hope you find someone to share it. (I’m not offering!…Family wouldn’t thank me.) This is an uplifting post… I really enjoyed reading it. Happy New Year. Tom

    Reply
    • 29th December 2013 at 11:14 am
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      Thank you Tom. I look forward to your blog updates each time you post. Can’t wait for your book.

      Reply
  • 29th December 2013 at 1:48 pm
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    Thanks for this, Ross – and thanks for the positive influence you have had on so many of us.

    Perfectly acceptable/reasonable/wise to put yourself and your family first sometimes! Hope you’ve had a very good Christmas and that 2014 is an excellent year for you, perhaps bringing the job that you desire and deserve…

    Reply
    • 29th December 2013 at 2:59 pm
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      Hi Jill. No, thank you. You are always reading everyone’s blogs – not just mine – and spread a seed of support and challenge. Thank you for that. Look forward to catching up with you in 2014 and working on our next project together – whatever that may be! Seasons greetings.

      Reply
  • 29th December 2013 at 4:20 pm
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    Thanks for this Ross. Really encouraged and inspired by what you are doing. However please don’t associate Logical Positivism with being ‘positive’.. it is a particularly dull form of linguistic philosophy that I have to teach to my A2 RS students next term. If any one has any ideas as to how to make it exciting, I’d be really grateful! Keep up the good work

    Reply
    • 29th December 2013 at 4:24 pm
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      Hi Deborah. Thanks for the comments. I understand the definition. I just wanted to use the title as a term for “Twitterati becoming more logical in thought and positive to each other.” If you tweet me, we can ask others for their ideas on how to teach it better for you in RS? Thanks Ross.

      Reply
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