Jenny Léger's blog for English teachers and learners
I have discovered this #Nurture 1314 thingy via Twitter and in particular via @TeacherToolkit. My turn to try my hand at reflecting on 13 highlights of 2013 and 14 hopes for 2014 has now come. When I first started making notes, earlier on this evening during an extended episode of Corrie, I actually ended up with too many points to include, so have had to cull a few; That should doubtlessly be taken as a good sign. It also means that some points may go on a bit as I try to squeeze two or three bits into one, in an attempt to adhere to the rules. Here goes for me and mine :
My highlights of 2013 :
1) My kids. I have three sons, aged 19, 17 and 13. Gosh, I feel old when I say that !! I have never ceased to be proud of them, of their achievements and of the young men they are becoming. Seeing them perform in music, in studies, in sport, in refereeing, listening to them switch effortlessly from French to English and back to French again – I enjoy spending time with them, learning from them, being there for them, chilling together in family time. I particularly cherish the half hour when they get in from school and just want drink and cake (preferably Mum’s homemade) around the kitchen table, while I treat myself to a big mug of tea (more on tea at a later point). Enough about my kids, I’ll be getting boring !!
2) My husband, who puts up with a lot from me. He works hard at what he does and, I believe, is jolly good at his job. He is also supportive of me and what I do. We try as much as possible to be a team, even when it isn’t easy as we are both sometimes too knackered to even speak. Next year I will reach the milestone of having lived half of my life in France – and of course, it has been with my Bruno. We celebrated twenty-one years of marriage on October 31st of 2013 by going on a course together to learn to do pottery. He is daft enough to follow me on these madcap ideas of mine and we had such fun. Our vases and thumb-pots take pride of place on the mantelpiece.
3) My students and their success stories. I am like a very proud mum to all my pupils and we often joke that I am their “maman pédagogique” Their success stories make me happy and I follow a number of my ex pupils on Facebook, Twitter. I delight in what they become.
4) Dakar : for the past six years, I have been lucky enough to be invited to travel to Senegal to run a teacher training course for primary teachers. While the course is hard work to prepare, as I want to make sure I offer quality teaching, and while it is intense when I am there, I feel so blessed to have discovered the people and the city of Dakar. I come back a changed person each time I am there. I feel I have so much to learn from my friends in Africa in terms of giving and appreciating what I have.
5) Primary Project: this year I started a partnership project, working with a primary class (8-9 year olds) in a local school. My class of 1STMG students are “mentoring” the class of CE2-CM1 at Jean Moulin school. Seeing the kids together, working, interacting gives me great pleasure and is so emotional in a way I had not anticipated. There have been tears on two occasions so far – and the year is far from over.
6) Technology – I am a self-confessed geek and experimenting with technology in teaching is one of the elements that keeps me from stagnating after 15 years in the same school. The challenges of learning to use technology to help us to learn is one of my favourite subjects. I am eternally grateful to my students for following me down this road – even if some have to be dragged kicking and screaming. I hope they will, one day, see why I keep banging on !!
7) Blogging. I began blogging in summer 2012, creating The Big English Blog for school. I am so proud to have had over 12,500 hits and from all over the world. In July 2013 I spent a lot of time creating new blogs for various training courses I run and as a platform for my flipped classroom experiments. I would love to have the time to do more.
8) Funology – it is intensely satisfying for me to have gained in 2013 the chance to run a two day training course for English teachers solely dedicated to the teaching of Phonology in a fun way or, as I call it, Funology. Two whole days. In these times of budget restrictions, I feel very lucky to have gone from one to two days for this year and to have been oversubscribed for the course. The demand for phono work is there and I am happy to have earned the trust of my hierarchy to give me this opportunity.
9) My Creative Journey – I actually see my whole life as a series of journeys and one of my most exciting journeys is my creative journey, (and one which I also blog about). The escapism of taking time out to paint a flower pot, to sew a pin cushion or to plant some seeds is essential and I feel happiest when I am doing so. I am proud that I have finally recognized that this is an essential part of me and I am happy with most of my creations.
10) Les Géniz : in November 2001 I invited a group of girlfriends to get together for some fun and fitness on a Tuesday evening in our local village hall. Twelve years on and we are still there. Time is not always on my side as I find it hard to spare the time, but it is a fun and quirky way to spend an evening. I run the class and I am proud of my girls who have embraced my daft dances fully. Our “Thriller” routine is pretty cool, “Grease” remains one of my eternal favourites and I have to say I am very proud of the gusto my girls use to attack every new dance. I attended a Zumba class recently while home in the UK and it has fired me up again with new ideas.
11) A professional highlight of 2013 was the phone-call from one of my Inspectors in July, informing me that I was to be relieved of two teaching hours at school this year to allow me to devote time to training. I was very proud as I saw it as recognition of my work as a trainer. It kind of rubber-stamped what I am doing and gave me a true confidence boost. I enjoy the work I do with the Inspectors as they give me an alternative vision of the profession. I am lucky enough to have been offered opportunities which have helped me to grow.
12) Professionally, I am very attached to the training work I do and happy with the diversity of courses that I run. I adore working with the language assistants and always feel very proud of them as they blossom into their roles. My STI2D training course is a challenge as the trainees are not linguists at heart and so when they gradually become more and more keen on working their language skills, it is a very rewarding feeling for me. We also have a lot of fun working together.
13) Finally, I think my personal highlight moment of the year has to be actually a specific moment in the day. It is the time when I get home from work at about 4pm in an afternoon, the house is quiet as the kids aren’t yet home and I can sit down with a nice cup of tea in one of my favourite mugs, on my ruby red sofa by the window to my garden. As I look out at the Normandy apple orchard at the end of our garden, with the two donkeys that live there, Polinette and Pelotte, who are grazing, I can watch the seasons change and for half an hour, take stock of my day and think about what the next day will hold. It has to be a moment that I guard jealously and I can think every day about how lucky I feel. And then the kids come home …
My hopes for 2014
1) My first hope for 2014 is to see my children continue to grow and develop into fine, healthy young men.
2) And to continue to enjoy spending time with my lovely husband, who is the main reason why I am here in France at all !! I hope we can make more time to enjoy each other’s company. It’s the old work-life balance thingy.
3) I became a class tutor in September 2013 to a class of 1èreSTI2D boys. There are 23 of them and I hope to continue to get to know each one of them as an individual. I am very proud of their class photo where they all dressed up in shirt and tie for the occasion, which set the tone for the whole year. I hope we can continue to work well together and I hope I will be able to motivate them to want to improve their English. I want to offer them the best guidance I can as they progress through the school.
4) I am returning to Dakar in February 2014 and, as I see changes that have gradually come in over the past few years, I hope that I can make this course as useful as the others have always been, because I feel it may be my last. I want to make it count.
5) My Primary project – I hope to be able to develop this project more. I have suggested to my students that we prepare a show for the primary children and they are all for it. I have actually written a pantomime-style script for a funky version of Little Red Riding Hood and I hope to see it acted out by my students before the school year is out.
6) Technology – I hope to continue to evolve in terms of technology and maybe I will resolve my iPad battle – do I or don’t I bite the bullet and follow the apple ? I am having a lot of fun with my Samsung tablet and I hope to continue more during 2014, including working on the creation of apps with my colleague Eric and with discovering more ways to develop along this journey.
7) Jenny’s British Pronunciation – I began working on my own YouTube channel in a dalliance with flipped learning and am astounded to see the number of visits I have had. I know there is a niche in the market for me, but it is a question of time. I hope to be able to make more time for my ventures this year.
8) I mentioned my creative journey in my highlights (point n°9) – I hope to give my students more and more scope for creativity in my teaching programmes. I feel we gradually squeeze creativity out of our students and it is a mistake. I want to offer as many opportunities for creativity as possible and even if the kids find it unnerving, as they are unused to it, I will not give up.
9) Food – I took time in 2013 to learn to cook better, or should I say, to read recipes and follow them properly. I hope to continue in 2014. My “saucisses aux lentilles” is pretty spot-on these days.
10) I want to get fit in 2014. It is all very well being active in the classroom but I am quite a couch potato at home. I want to get out and get fresh air more – walking, breathing deeply, getting in touch with sensations that I tend to have forgotten. It is all part of the balance thingy, I guess.
11) I hope to be able to continue developing the work I am doing with my STI2D training course. This programme which can roughly be translated as Design and Technology, with a huge Sustainable Development module has a great future and the students I have in the classes are just crying out for attention. Not the most academic of pupils, but willing to work if given very precise guidelines and objectives. I hope to be able to continue to work with students like this and to be able to answer their needs with more and more precision as the year continues. I enjoy this challenge as it makes me think very hard about what choices I am making and why. I have even asked if a permanent classroom could be found for me within the Technology department for me to become an integral part of the teaching package. I asked slightly tongue-in-cheek, but the idea is growing on me. If it doesn’t come true this year, I hope at least that we can have a frank and open discussion about it.
12) I would dearly love to participate in a TeachMeet as I read about them on Twitter – not practical as I am on the wrong side of the English Channel !! I would love to set up something similar over here in France – but that is a long-way-off wish !! I firmly plan to continue my CPD through the channels of Twitter and Facebook – I am a true fan and love keeping up with what others are doing.
13) My organic journey – as a result of working on sustainable development, I have been led to think about our own way of living and our habits/ lifestyle choices. We have changed over to a number of organic options and I hope we can continue in this vein in 2014. Every little helps and we are doing what we can to reduce our footprints.
14) Finally, I hope 2014 will bring calm and happiness to all my extended family. We are quite spread out over the globe at present and so I don’t see everyone as often as we would like. I hope with all my heart that the rewards and satisfactions that I am lucky enough to encounter in my life, I hope my nearest and dearest can experience similar satisfactions in their chosen fields, whatever those fields may be. I hope to be here in 12 months’ time to do a Nurture 1415, and I hope that all those around me will also be here, in good health and on top form.
I guess I can end by saying I am proud to be still doing the job that I am doing and, in all modesty, not doing too bad a job of it. I plan to continue into 2014 and I hope to continue to be the quirky, bubbly, slightly eccentric, tea-drinking mad English woman in the school. Teaching is like performing every day and although I have grumpy days, don’t we all, I want to continue surprising my students and to continue to be surprised by them. I remain a kid at heart and I want that to continue. I never want to lose the laughter and the fun from my classroom.
Happy New Year to anyone reading this. Thanks for seeing it through to the end.