A Reflection on 2016, looking to 2017

Last year’s set of reflections can be found here. I find this public reflection extremely cathartic, why it might be of interest to others eludes me.

Highlights of 2016

  1. A successful resumption of my MA has been extremely stimulating and interesting. Not only do I feel challenged but it has given my teaching a new moral purpose. I admit being somewhat reluctant to engage in a “wishy washy” compulsory unit called What is Education? However, it was far from wishy washy. I have very precisely pinned down my vision of what education is for, and I’m using it as a guide to evaluating my teaching and developing my practice.
  2. I have recalibrated my work/life balance to the extent where I now feel like my workload is manageable. This is not to say that I do not put in many more hours than I feel that I should, but I’m taking significantly less work home with me and I’ve become far more selective with what work I’m taking on, and what I’m choosing to improve. This does feel, in part, the result of reaching a fourth year of teaching in the same school. I’m also grateful for light touch management – what I hear about many other schools horrifies me.
  3. My teaching has become more ‘knowledge focussed’, building on many of the targets I set for myself last year such as testing for memory, I have been able to pinpoint exactly what I want my students to know from each unit of work. This has been achieved, in part, through the use of knowledge organisers and Joe Kirby’s thoughtful questions that departments should ask themselves. I’ve also benefited from using more of my free time to read more, a leisure pursuit that was previously lost to a good deal of working from home.

 

Some targets for 2017

  1. To successfully share good practise. I remarked upon 2015 as being a good year for working collaboratively within my department and starting to reach out to other departments. Having grown as a teacher through my MA, I need to share what I have learned with teachers beyond my department. I have been tasked with setting up a research group starting this February which I need to shape and think about how I can make this really work for our school and our school’s partners.
  2. To bring more historians into the classroom. Little more needs to be said. Too much of my history teaching happens in its own little bubble, without enough reference to the works of historians. I’m going to change that and look forward to reflecting on how that goes on this blog.
  3. Help students to see the big picture. This is something I am currently wrestling with as part of my MA. As effective as teaching lessons day to day might be, students are not left with a developed chronological understanding or sense of how their various enquiries link together. 2017 will be all about exploring how to amend this. Fellow history teachers wrestling with this should read this by Rick Rogers.

I hope all readers have a restful bank holiday and productive 2017!

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