I’m jumping on the #Nurture1516 bandwagon and reflecting on what I think has been a very successful 2015. I like round numbers, so I’ve come up with 10 things that have made this year a happy one! The first 3 are my big three of the year!

  1. Australia – In May we moved from the North East of England to the North East of Australia. We should have made the move in January, but the less said about the Australian visa processing system, the better. Regardless, we made the move, and are very happy we did. We have a relaxing lifestyle in the sun and are enjoying the opportunities opened up by the move, both professionally and personally. We love travelling, so we’ve enjoyed exploring the area around Cairns. We are looking forward to having some visitors next year! Read about why I moved to Australia here.
  2. Head of Religion – One of the motivating factors for the move was the promotion to head of department. As with any department, there are challenges. It’s been a culture shock moving from a department of 8 or 9 specialists to one of 15 with specialisms in other subject areas. But if that’s the biggest challenge, I think I’m lucky! I say this with the knowledge of what ex-colleagues are going through back in England!
  3. PhD – The visa delay was good for one reason, at least. That is, I had time to complete my PhD and submit it. In fact, I submitted in May a week before our visa was granted. Without this delay, I think it would have  been nearer the end of 2016 before I submitted it. I had to travel back to the UK in the September holiday for my viva, but it was a good opportunity to catch up with friends and family (and to realise that there wasn’t much else I missed about North East England). I was delighted to have it passed without corrections, and I graduated in December (another return trip to the UK). I wrote a series of posts about How NOT to do a PhD, the last of which you can read here.
  4. Blogging – I have had many different things to blog about this year. I enjoyed the start of @staffrm which encouraged me to think more about blogging about my teaching. I was also inspired by #PhDchat to blog about my PhD experience. I was also  lucky enough to review @mustranscend’s Music and Transcendence for Ashgate, and publish it on my blog, here. Also, having lots of time between leaving one job in January and starting the next in May, I got to read lots of books and see lots of films at the cinema, and did a bit of blogging about these too! I’m currently cogitating on a post about the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which we had a sibling outing to see this holiday. I’m happy that I’ve had many more views in this one year than in the previous four put together.
  5. Innovate My School – PhD and blogging wasn’t the only writing I did this year. I also contributed to @InnovateMySchl 2015/16 Guide, which you can read here. I also wrote about the differences I had encountered between Australia and the UK in my first month of teaching, which you can find here.
  6. #REchatOz – Following the move to Australia, I continued using twitter to network with colleagues. To this end, I began #REchatOz, a monthly chat for RE teachers in Australia and beyond, to discuss the teaching of Religion in Australia.
  7. #EduTweetOz – In November, right in the middle of assessment week, I hosted the education twitter handle @EduTweetOz – an enlightening experience. It was a real mixed bag of a week, with some bits I loved, and some bits I, well, didn’t. You can read my reflections here, if you’re interested.
  8. 1k Followers – In December this year, I hit 1000 twitter followers. I was particularly excited by this, because my husband had promised to buy me a bottle of champagne when I did (I think, in the expectation that it might not actually happen). This is great, because most of these followers are educators from all around the world, and I love chatting to them!
  9. Flipped Learning – I feel very lucky at all of the opportunities I’ve had for professional development this year. I was particularly pleased to have made it to the RE: Reviving and Thriving – or #NATREnorth – conference in May in Bolton. This was when I heard from @Ben_Wood_RE about flipped learning, and for the first time, it really made sense to me! (My reflections on the conference here). I also had the opportunity to hear about flipped learning from @chrisburcin who teaches at our sister-school in Cairns. Supported on twitter by @kchalls and @joelBsperanza I have decided to make all our senior (year 11 and 12) lessons flipped learning in 2016. So I have spent the last month of 2015 planning this and making the videos (the ones published so far you can find here).
  10. 100 Book Challenge – At the start of the year, I signed up for the @goodreads challenge to read 100 books in a year. I have to confess that I have only reached 75 with 2 days to go, so it looks like I’m not going to make it, but I have enjoyed the challenge all the same. It will continue to be the challenge for next year, and if nothing else, I hope I can beat 75!

So that’s all well and good for 2015, but what’s next? I’m going to try to take the next year mostly as it comes, but I have got a few targets. Other than the time I spend sitting down reading books, I hope to be active in 2016! I picked up a running injury towards the end of this year, but over the holidays I have been climbing with middle-sibling, so I want to continue doing that next year. This means sussing out the climbing in Cairns! I hope to get back into running, but also to get the bikes out for their first outing in their new home. In my professional life, keeping up with those things I’ve been involved in this year, as well as teaching most (if not all) of my classes flipped-learning-style, I have been given the opportunity to go the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in February. I will also have lots of other opportunities to network, both in Cairns and beyond! Oh, and I might publish my PhD as a book, if I can face looking at it again…

Wishing you all the very best for a successful 2016!

2016 Celebrations At Large Concert With Crowd And Band Playing

image courtesy of stokpic


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