A final reflection on 2016

merryxmasIt is that time of year when many people start posting their reflections on 2016, so I would like to lend my hat to the ring.   This is the first part of a two part blog marking the end of the year.   The first part, this part, will focus on my resolutions/pledges which I made back at the end of 2015, in respect of 2016, and how the year has gone in general.    The second part will set out my resolutions and pledges for 2017.   So here goes for part one:

When I set out my resolutions back in 2015 I tried to set out things which would be quantifiable in that this would make things easier when it came to review progress.  The resolutions I set are as below, along with comments as to progress:

  1. To Blog at least twice per month throughout 2016: My blogging generally throughout most of 2016 has been at a rate of a post per week, while in February as part of #teacher5aday I posted daily for the whole month.   Quantifiably I easily met and exceeded my target however I have found myself questioning why I blog and also questioning the fact that at times I have found arriving at a subject for posts to be difficult and even forced.   I now wonder if the rate of blogging was the wrong thing to look at, instead I should have focussed on measuring what I hope to get from blogging.   I also wonder whether if I would have blogged had I not set a quantifiable target;  The fortnightly target may have acted on my motivation and ensured I kept up the effort.
  2. To maintain my presence and contributions to twitter (1.9 tweets per day): Again like for blogging, I have exceeded the target achieving a rate of almost 5 tweets per day.    Looking back I don’t think I appreciated the use of twitter chats and the number of tweets generated when you get truly involved on a regular basis.     As such the target may have been on the low side.   The other thing which is key here is that the value wasn’t in the number of tweets but in what I got from the twitter chats in particular.   I may have tweeted less or tweeted more however still have benefited to the same extent.     I occasionally spent time, albeit a small amount of time, keeping my buffer account full while thinking about the 1.9 tweet target; was that time well spent?   I am not sure it was however again the quantifiable target may have acted to sustain my motivation.
  3. To achieve Google Certified Educator Level 2 status: I didn’t hit this target mainly due to never really getting started.   This was mainly due to focussing on Microsoft Innovative Educator status which I achieve and also on the Certified IS Auditor status for which I am currently awaiting the results having sat the exam recently.    So the target as far as I am concerned is met in that I achieved another status in MIEE status.    It is also an area which I value in challenging myself to work or study towards qualifications or other certification.  Thinking back though, and following feeling totally knackered for a week after the recent CISA exam, I do wonder whether I may have pushed myself a tad too hard.   Was I overdoing it?
  4. To read at least 1 book per month: I read more than 12 new books during 2016 and very much enjoyed doing so.   At times finding time was difficult however I found that once I got started I ate through books and from each book identified follow on books to read.     The idea of a persons knowledge being measured by the books in their library which they are yet to read, as mentioned in Talebs Black Swam, very much appeals to me so I intend to keep my library full of books yet to be read, and to keep on reading.
  5. To use tools such as Evernote and Buffer to allow me to work smarter: I think I made a limited amount of progress here in that I have developed coping strategies and approaches however these approaches may not truly be “smart”.   An example of this is emailing myself with interesting articles to read, for future review.   I could easily make progress here for example emailing to Evernote as opposed to my email account however this requires a change in established habits.   This is something which still requires work.
  6. To get involved in twitter chats: As mentioned earlier during 2016 I got involved in a number of twitter chats including #sltchat, #mltchat and #edchatmena.   I would suggest that the target of fortnightly was met, however again it isn’t the frequency which actually mattered, it was the value I drew from the discussions.    Did I enjoy the chats as they were useful, due to the fact they challenged my perspective and ideas or due to the fact they confirmed my perspective and ideas?    (Confirmation is easier to stomach than challenge of ones ideas and perspective however this doesn’t make it better or more beneficial, just easier.)
  7. To get involved in events and conferences: I did get involved in a couple of conferences and events during 2016 however I wouldn’t say it was to the same extent as I had been involved in the UAE.   As such I made a start on this during 2016 however there is still work to be done if I want to reach the level of involvement I would like to see myself achieve.   There is a question here with regards available time and trying to do too much and therefore I may also need to re-evaluate what is most important including whether event involvement is actually important to me.
  8. To experiment with video and YouTube: I did very little on this until December when I contributed a little video as part of #teacher5aday.     Thinking about it I wonder whether my target hadn’t taken into consideration how comfortable I feel with regards video;   It just isn’t something which sits easy with me.    As such I will need to consider whether pushing myself out of my comfort zone is an important factor as during 2016 it wasn’t and therefore I made little progress on this target.

Overall looking back I feel I achieved well on the largely quantifiable targets which I set myself.    I should be happy about this in the easy way with which I can measure the success of 2016 however is a years worth of effort, sweat and toil meant to be easy to measure?    Is life that simple?    I would suggest that it isn’t and therefore maybe the targets, albeit easy to measure, weren’t as valuable as they could have been now that I reflect on 2016.     Their quantifiable nature also hides any real discussion as to the importance of what I was looking to achieve.     The flip side here however is that without the quantifiable targets I may not have sustained my motivation in the way I did during 2016, and some of the targets may have fallen by the way side.

As I look to consider targets for 2017 I need to bear the above in mind.    On reflection I may have posed more questions than I have presented answers however as I mentioned before, maybe this is due to the fact that life just isn’t simple.    That said, I would say 2016 was a busy and successful year.  I think I achieved a fair amount although maybe the figures associated with the targets above just don’t tell the full richness of the story of 2016.    I would like to hope that 2017 is successful first, and possibly busy as a secondary attribute!





Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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