December 31, 2014 by Doug Napolitano-Cremin
I am sitting on the couch at home with Gosford Park on the TV in front of me. It is 3 hours until midnight on New Years Eve. And I am writing a blog post about teaching! I am not sure what that says about my year – I will let you decide that one!
I feel like it has been a rather difficult year work-wise, but I have been inspired this week by reading all of the #Nurture1415 posts (see a full list of the posts via Sue Cowley – @Sue_Cowley – here) and I thought I would attempt a positive reflection myself.
A visit to CERN in July was an incredible experience. As a Biology specialist I learnt as much as the A-Level Physics pupils that we had taken on the trip! It opened my eyes to the amazing world of Physics and gave me a desire to learn more about the field. Seeing my colleagues discussing with pupils the Science we were seeing in action was inspiring. The passion they displayed just blew me away and it reminded me of how important it was for pupils to have teachers who love the subjects they teach. It is one of the main reasons why I became a teacher; the love I have for Science and the opportunity to talk about it all day!
This year was my first full year having extra responsibility in my school. I worked as Deputy Head of Science during this year and when our Head of Department left before the summer holidays, I took on extra work with another colleague to keep the department going until a suitable replacement could be found. I found myself in a number of, ‘interesting’, situations this year with the Head of the school. These situations did cause a considerable amount of stress and affected my health in the second part of the year. Looking back however, I am proud of how I handled these ‘moments’. I didn’t betray the beliefs I hold about education and the role that I have to play in my own classroom and within my department. I stood up for myself when it was required and I also stood up for colleagues when they needed support. I learnt a huge amount about leadership and about myself. I still have plenty more to learn but I sit here at the end of the year wiser and better prepared for what lies ahead.
My final work-related highlight of the year relates to the, ‘what lies ahead…’ mentioned above. I will be moving on from my school to start a new position in another school next week. I was incredibly pleased to be able to accept the position of Head of Biology in an Outstanding school very close to where I live. I was not looking for a new job particularly, in fact it was my wife who showed me the advert for this job. The school has a very good reputation locally and I reasoned that although I was happy where I was, it was an opportunity that would be foolish not to go for. I thought I had performed terribly in the interview process, and there was a week-long wait for the reference to be sent from my current school, but I was delighted to have been offered the job and I am looking forward to starting next week.
Moving to a new school is always a daunting task, but I am feeling the pressure even more as I am moving in the middle of the academic year and am moving in to a leadership position. My great hope for this move is simply to not completely screw things up and to ensure I look after the colleagues I will work with in the Biology department.
I hope to continue to work on becoming a better teacher. I feel that I have let the stresses and strains of the machinery of Education distract me from what is important and I know that I need to go back to basics. I want to rediscover my love for my subject. I want to improve my geekery on two fronts – Science and Education. I will be making an effort to read more and watch more. I have plenty of resources at my finger-tips, I just need to be more organised! I also need to be more focused in my CPD. I aim to continue attending conferences (the ASE annual conference and BETT are already booked!) and TeachMeets and participate more on Twitter. I feel that 2014 was not my finest year in terms of my individual teaching practice and I just want to work harder on becoming better!
My final hope for the year is that I can achieve all of the above, but at the same time be a better father and husband. My son is now two years old and he is growing up incredibly fast. Every day he is learning something new and every day I am amazed that he is in my life. I also have two incredible step-children who are at important points in their secondary education; all three of these amazing people keep me incredibly busy. I love being a teacher. I couldn’t imagine being anything else. It is what I was born to do. However, nothing is more important to me than being a good husband and father. It is difficult balancing work and family life, especially when you are a teacher, but it is something that I am going to work incredibly hard to achieve. If anyone has any tips, they will be gratefully received!