2017, a month by month review

Before 2017 ends I thought it might be useful to reflect on the year on a month by month basis.   On reflection it may have been better to review each month at the end of the month as opposed to trying to remember back at the end of the year.    I am well aware of how our memory often betrays us when looking back over any period of time.    Thankfully I did have a journal to review however my entries were far from regular or consistent.    So, below is 2017 in monthly:

January

The BETT conference was an important part of January.   This year I had gone with a very specific plan as to the vendors I wanted to see along with the various seminars and presentations I wanted to see in the single day I intended to attend the BETT event.    As it was I found it to be a very busy and successful day in which I picked up a number of thoughts and ideas.   Sadly, although the event itself was very successful my trip back to Somerset turned out to be a little fraught following car issues in the form of a faulty battery.  My drive back to Somerset was therefore plagued with worries of my car giving out on the motorway or worse of losing my cars lights driving on country roads as daylight was disappearing during my journey home.

February

I cannot remember back to February and what I undertook during this period.   From my journal logs it was quite a productive period in terms of meetings attended and progress made however nothing jumps out at me as something achieved during this period.   Maybe this is inevitable that some period will be filled with the work required to underpin future achievement, without there being any discernible achievement during that period.   One thing of note for February however is the fact I surprised my wife for Valentine’s day.   I have never been one for Valentines gifts or making a big thing of this overly commercialized event, however in a bid to show my wife how much she means to me I decided that I would make a special effort.    It is important that I consider making such gestures a more regular event, not requiring of a specific national day such as valentine’s day.

March

March saw me present at ICT Conference 2017 at King Edward VI School in Southampton.   My topic was that of ICT policy and practice and in particular the 10 main challenges as I saw them at that time.    I wouldn’t say my presentation was anything near my best given the scope of the topic however I found it a worthwhile activity and it was particularly useful to get feedback from attendees on the challenges as they saw them at that time.

April

In April I actually took a little of quality time for myself, taking time to sit in the garden when the weather was nice, sipping a beer and reading a good book.    This needs to be something I do more often however I do note that my reflections at the time were that I didn’t achieve much during this period.   A bit of chill time isn’t something which normally comes to mind when we reflect on achievements and it is only through reviewing some of my journal logs from this period that I am now even able to identify that I found this time to chill in April.

May

I turned another year older in May and as with April managed to spend some time chilling but also spend some time outside with my son playing football.    Good weather doesn’t occur as often in the UK as it did while I was living in the UAE.    As such it is important to prioritize and use good weather as an opportunity to spend time outside with my son and also my wife.   This needs to be something I remember for future.   There will be plenty opportunities in winter to write or do other indoor activities however in April and May are the best opportunities for getting outdoor with the kids and family.

June

During June I attended the MovingOnEd event.   For the first time this allowed me to meet Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist) and Kate Jones (@87History) who previously I had only conversed with online via twitter.   As it turned out Kate lives in Al Ain in the UAE where I had lived for a number of years.   We apparently even lived there during the same period time before I moved back to the UK.    At the event I also had the opportunity to meet with Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) and get a signed copy of his book Learning with E’s.

July

July saw me board a plane to return to Glasgow for the first time in almost 2 years, and only for the 2nd time in almost 10 years.    The reason for return was that of the funeral of my Gran.    I can’t help but think of the phrase “matches, hatches and dispatches” in reference to the only occasions when the family come together as a whole.    It is important to consider the finite nature of our lives and therefore the need to make the best of what we have.   A part of this for me will be ensuring I make time to visit my own parents more regularly which has been something I find to be a challenge given they still live in Glasgow while I now live in Somerset.  This is something I need to consider and action in future.

August

The final preparations for the new academic year were undertaken during August.    As such it was a busy period and as a result I didn’t record much of what happened during that period.    The only thing I am aware of was starting to making use of Buffer as a service to help me manage my social media interactions.

September

September saw the start of a new academic year and a particularly difficult project in the form of changing the schools Mobile Device Management Solution.    As a 1:1 school from year 7 upwards, a change in the MDM would impact on a large number of students and staff and therefore the change was not without risk.  Having considered the risk associated with the change, along with the risk associated with remaining with the then current solution it was decided to make the change with the preparation work done during the summer.   Although the prep work had been done the true test was always going to be when the staff and students returned.   As it was the change went well and we managed to start the process of getting students onto the MDM albeit with one or two issues with individual students.   This process then continued throughout the term with the percentage of students on the MDM being steadily increased towards the targeted enrollment figure of 90% or more students.

October

I attended the ISMG Fraud and Breach Prevention summit in London during October.   I found this two day conference to be excellent with lots to take away in relation to IT cyber security.   The event included a number of high level presentations including contributions from the UK Metropolitan Police and the FBI to name but two.    The main take away I remember from the event was one presenter commenting on how he had predicted correctly that this year had been worse than the previous one in relation to cyber security, breaches, challenges around cyber security and cyber threats.   He went on to rather bleakly predict the year ahead is likely to see a continuation of the trend with things getting worse still.   I tend to agree.

November

November saw me finally complete on the purchase on a house followed by the traumatic task of actually moving from our rented accommodation into our new home.   A number of issues which I wont go into during which various service providers did not cover themselves in glory made the experience all the more traumatic.    After 10 years in rented or provided accommodation I am just glad to once again be able to consider the place I sleep at night and wake in the morning as “Home”.

December

December saw me finally sit the CISSP exam for which I had been studying for a significant part of the year.   I went into the exam feeling as if I had done everything I possibly could however also feeling that I would still fall short of the 70% pass mark.     As I finished the exam and left the booth in which I took the computer based test, I felt I would not pass given the number of questions where I had to arrive at my chosen answer via a process of elimination as opposed to knowing the answer to the question.    Much to my surprise the letter handed to me following the test indicated I had passed.    I must admit to being surprised however also happy that the work that went into studying must have paid off.   I tended towards allocating the pass to luck whereas the woman on the front desk at the test centre, the woman who handed me the results letter, suggested I should attribute my success to hard work and study.

2017 has been a busy year and sitting here at the end of it, it feels as if it has flown by.   I am sure there were many challenging points in the year when the flight of time did not feel so swift.  That said, I think it has been a good year with a fair number of achievements or memorable events to list.   Here’s to 2018 and sitting down in a years time with an even bigger list of memorable moments from the year.

 

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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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