It’s always strange looking back on a year; there’s the feeling of having been extremely busy and the opposite of perhaps not having achieved a great deal. Fortunately, I still keep a diary, largely to keep track of work commitments, so have some idea of what has transpired.
Yes, I’m still working, a little less each year, or so I try to convince myself.
I have promised myself and M that next year will see a determined effort to exert diary control, to allow periods of time that can then be allocated to holiday breaks. It is flattering that both Winchester Uni and the Teaching School, where I have several roles, ask for “just one more year” …
With me having reached State Retirement Age in September, we decided that M could “retire”, to create opportunities outside school holidays. Perhaps in 2018! We are kept busy, with family needs; between us we have six children and now eight grandchildren. Someone needs something much of the time, or so it can seem. I keep being told that this is a way to keep young…
The latter event enabled an extended trip for me, 360 miles through France with wedding dresses and luggage, to stay at our house for a few days, decorating and gardening, before the 600-mile trip over the Pyrenees to Valencia. It was an adventure, as it was my first foray over the range. I had previously driven on both the French and Spanish sides. Every twist and turn offered spectacular views. Eventually arriving at the tunnel through the mountains, with snow on peaks above, in June, having passed through the tanshumance of sheep to summer pastures, meant endless new experiences. Passing from the green of France to the sun-bleached rocks on the Spanish side was totally unexpected. It is an experience to be repeated.
We had a few nights away in Hay on Wye after the Spanish trip as our anniversary get-away. It was very low key, but necessary relaxation.
Our original summer plan of four weeks at the house were disrupted by our car catching fire only a few miles from our destination. We have no idea what caused it, but the upshot was that the insurance immediately wrote off the car, annulling our breakdown cover, meaning that they then washed their hands of getting us help or home. We eventually organised trains across France to the ferry and caught a train home, with as much as we could carry.
Summer became a “staycation”, while we sorted the insurance and found another car. We had a short return trip in September to pick up the things that we had had to leave behind; eg M’s sewing machine, having developed a great interest in textiles and quilting.
The two visits had highlighted that the house roof had developed a small leak, so we organised an English builder to strip the slates, for reuse, to insulate and put on a waterproof layer, then re-slate. My “red-eye” visit at the end of November, to check this and pay, showed that the house is much cosier, so a necessary improvement, which will make future visits much more comfortable.
We try to make time to enjoy a number of member privileges, visiting Chichester Theatre regularly on their £10 preview opportunities, Pallant House Gallery for some art and the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum for my interest in old house architecture and building. Each offers an opportunity for days out.
In work terms, my interest in developing mentors to better support trainees has been a significant focus for the past few years. I have come to think that mentoring is probably the key area where teaching needs to do some proper accounting. If every new teacher could be mentored to take advantage of the capabilities of the best available in the school, within a planned programme of sharing, this would be a significant first step. Using the available resources to best advantage, the skills and knowledge of colleagues is essentially CPD. It does require commitment and perhaps a little money, but could be more effective than sending people out on courses. I could see internal “Teachmeets” as occasional staff meetings or internal “papers” of “think pieces” to stimulate professional discussion.
Dialogue is the stuff of self-improvement; clarifying your own thinking through articulation and the opportunity to be challenged professionally.
Not sharing any real resolutions. I might have best intentions, but life’s shown that everything has to be adapted in due course. I am trying to get back to fitness, after three months dealing with a deep thigh muscle pull, so recently bought an exercise bike which has already been put to good use this holiday. Being able to get out for an hour or two of walking is always a pleasure.
With very best wishes for 2018, for health and happiness and the opportunity to take advantage of whatever life offers.