For the past few years I have found it interesting to produce a summary of my year, as it was blogged. It’s funny how the mind distorts the shape of such a length of time, it’s so easy to forget about crucial thoughts and experiences, and writing it up in this way makes me see just how things developed.
This year my writing has been focused my book, ‘The Thinking Teacher‘, and many of the ideas on these pages have been the start of something that was further developed there. For me whilst that project was about producing some kind of statement, this blog has always been a space to develop ideas and thoughts, and as such provides a useful record of my professional experience of 2013.
The start of the year saw me exploring the ideas of cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham which became a key influence on my thinking. I also considered how mobile technology affords not just a more convenient, but a different way of thinking about activity.
I’m not a huge fan of rankings or ‘the top n’ posts, but Onylatica’s in depth analysis of the influence of education blogs was an interesting project, and pointed me to some good reading I would have otherwise missed. The end of January saw me running a Startup Weekend for developing education projects with the team from Night Zookeeper, with a flurry of media created and ideas captured.
As details of the new Computing curriculum in England emerged, I reflected on the importance of making it authentic and relevant to young children and to the many Primary teachers who are learning this subject for the first time– concluding that these groups might need a different approach.
The easter break saw me travel to Finland with a group of Plymouth University students who undertook a two month teaching placement out there. I learned much from seeing a different education system and from talking to the teachers out there.
By this time I was getting immersed in writing my book, ‘The Thinking Teacher’, and wrote my initial thoughts on some of the research I did on talent, and on regulation. A chance meeting on a train also caused me to ask some difficult questions about how we relate to children in the UK.
In mid May I spoke at the ICT in Education conference in Westminster and posted a video of my talk on “Mobile & The Cloud’ for learning.
This month saw more political posts, with some worrying evidence about the Phonics test in England, musings on the removal of national curriculum levels for assessment in England, and a reflection on whether teachers conceptualise themselves as professionals or as technicians.
In more characteristic posts I considered the concept of having ‘a live’s work’, and the problems with focusing on inspiration.
At this time I was consumed by writing the book, but briefly posted one idea that made it in there in much more detail inspired by musicians burning a million pounds.
Having been immersed in quite academic thinking for much of the year, the passion and drive surrounding the opening of Plymouth School of Creative Arts touched me.
The start of a new academic year caused me to reflect on the potential loneliness of a life mediated by technology, and consider the momentum of life in a University. I took over the subject leadership of Primary ICT, Digital Literacy and Computing at Plymouth. Unfortunately I blogged little about the process of developing the new Computing courses, but one post about the overall direction made it out.
Through experience in my classes I continued to consider how technology for sharing alters the way people think, and considered one of the ideas from research for my book that affected my thinking most deeply- that learning might be more about who we become than what we gain.
In November I was offered, and accepted, a job working on digital education with Nesta. I also considered what the real benefits of ‘Team Teaching’ might be, reflected on who has the ultimate responsibility for learning (particularly in a University context), and was inspired by the approach of author Judith Kerr to constructing meaningful learning in the context of reading.
After quite a year December was the time to wrap up my job at Plymouth, say goodbye to great colleagues, students and friends, and take some time out to take stock and prepare for 2014.
There are big changes for me ahead. I know that will be reflected in the nature of my writing on this blog, but I will continue to document what I learn here. For those who have followed, shared, and been a part of this interesting year, thanks!