Saturday, 5 April 2014

Blogging birthday post!

My first ever post was published a year ago!! I remember being nervous about putting my thoughts out there for the world to see...

1 year later and this will be my 45th published post. More astounding to me though is that people have actually read any of them! This little blog has now clocked up almost 25,000 visits! I'm flattered that anyone takes time to read this collection of ideas that rattle round my head, so if you're reading this - THANK YOU - I know you don't have to, and this has never been about self promotion.

I was asked recently how many words I'd written as part of this blog - I worked it out the other day and was shocked to find that even excluding this post it's well over 46,000 words! (Note to self - must work on brevity!) When I discovered this massive word count I wondered which words I'd used, so I used Wordle to summarise it - I was quite pleased with the result...

Alongside this I've found myself with almost 800 followers on twitter - which also amazes me!

So what is it all about?
During the year I've blogged about various topics, from leadership to homework, to SOLO, to marking - you can find links to these topics on the right of the blog page. More recently I've been a bit preoccupied with RAG123 marking, which has dominated posts since November, but frankly it's such a powerful bit of practice I think it as deserved the priority I've given to it. (by the way - if you've not heard of RAG123 then have a look at my posts - I promise you won't regret it!)

As an indirect result of twitter and blogging, and the reflective, innovative practice that it encourages my department and I have:

  • Developed feedback and marking processes
  • Innovated RAG123
  • Created departmental CPD open days
  • Written on just about every surface in the classroom with magic whiteboard, chalkpens, etc.
  • Analysed summative tests to make them formative using various tools.
  • Created graffiti walls for revision
  • Made question grenades
  • Developed the use of QR codes, bitly links and videos for flipped learning in our department
  • Created maths plasters
  • Developed seating plan formats to show student data easily
  • Introduced SOLO to our school
  • Used formats to share learning objectives with KS5
And there are loads more things - I'm amazed how long that list is already.

Has it been worth it?
Without a doubt yes! 

Of course it takes time to write posts - sometimes more than others, but it's actually never felt like a drag. I've also surprised myself in that I've never once struggled to find a topic to write about - stuff just happens and I think "that'll make a good blog post." I wrote a post (here) in June considering why I had bothered getting involved in blogging and twitter and whether it was worth it. Having read back over that post I don't think I can improve on it, I've honestly never looked back since starting.

It has been a bit of a journey this year; discovering twitter and blogging as a CPD tool has been a massive eye opener. It's transformed my practice in many ways, and helped me to lead my department with new ideas. Comments and feedback from the blog and from tweets have helped me to improve my classroom practice, and writing about it has helped me to be more reflective about it too. Furthermore being on twitter has helped me to be more connected to the wider world of education than ever before. I'll continue blogging and using twitter because it makes me better at my job.

A new phase begins...
This week has been fairly momentous for me. In addition to the anniversary of blogging I was successful in an interview on Monday, and will now be joining my current school's SLT as an Assistant Headteacher from September.

I can honestly say that the combination of blogging and twitter helped me to be a much more credible candidate for a role on the school's SLT than I would have been without these connections. It really came home to me when I sat down to prepare for the interview and realised that I was already fully up to speed with latest thinking about lesson observations, assessment structures, learning theories, inspection frameworks, etc. In fact in some aspects I was more in touch than the majority of the existing SLT - all through keeping up to date with my twitter feed and reading other people's blogs!

I was also able to ask for advice and tips on my application for this SLT post from contacts in my personal learning network who I didn't know at all last year! There were a couple in particular who helped by proof reading my application form and offered encouragement and suggestions. I'll not name you in case you get inundated by requests from others, but you know who you are and thank you!

I fully intend to keep blogging as I make the transition from middle to senior leadership, and hope that it continues to shape my practice, and contribute to the future of my school and its students.

So after all that I think this post is really a thank you to anyone who has ever taken the time to read, comment, tweet or follow as part of my journey in the last year. I've certainly enjoyed it and think I'm a better teacher and leader as a result... I hope you've found some of it useful!

Here's to another year - I wonder what will develop in the next 12 months...!

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