2019, another new year

new-years-day-3890699_640It is that time again to write my new years resolutions, my pledges for the year ahead and once again I face the same challenge.   I could select SMART targets such as to read 12 books but in picking something so easily measurable there is a danger that I focus on the target, and select 12 books which are shorter and easier to read rather than picking more challenging reads, which may take more time to read however in the long term will be more useful.    There is also danger that I pick a target that I then quickly achieve early in the year, leaving me to look back at the end of 2019 having achieved everything in the first couple of months.    The other option is I pick bigger goals such as to develop my understanding of learning and how individuals learn.    This is a much bigger goal however is difficult to measure in terms of my success in achieving it.

For 2019 my plan is to set some over arching strategic targets, which are big goals, but within each to also indicate some initial shorter SMART targets.   My hope is this should give me a balance of micro and macro level goals.

And so onto the new years resolutions, pledges or goals for the year ahead:


A key target for the year ahead is to have a family holiday together.    This is something we haven’t done for a while, other than last summer.   As such I think this should now become an annual event as it gives the opportunity to spend some uninterrupted family time together, to decompress and to relax.

A wider target would be to make more family time together.   This needs to involve actually sitting down to dinner together, to playing football with my youngest, to going out as a family on the occasional weekend.   Myself and my wife will also need to seek to make more time for each other, with “date night” a clear possibility however given our working patterns we will need to work on resolving the logistical issues.

Exercise, Wellbeing and Reading

This year rather than having separate targets for exercise and readings I have decided to roll them all up into a single area for focus.

In terms of SMART targets, my key targets will be to complete the 9 weeks of Couch to 5K before the end of the calendar year and to read my usual 12 books, one book per month.

Looking towards a wider target, I want to feel happier in myself at the end of the year.   This will mean trying to strike a balance between work and personal life.    In with work I include my efforts in blogging and posting on social media.   My work doesn’t just include my job but includes other tasks and activities which I do as part of my wider professional contribution to education and to IT.  I would also like to start podcasting during 2019 however I need to be conscious that I need to achieve a better work/life balance and to be more comfortable taking time out to relax.

Professional Development

Having achieved certifications in each of the last three years, and conscious of the fact that I will need to re-certify which will require me to repeat my exams, I am not going to set myself a target of a specific certification in 2019.   Instead I am going to focus on some specific areas of interest with these being cyber security and data analytics in particular.   I hope to be able to use Udemy courses and various books as my method of study with a view to being knowledgeable and experienced in relation to these topics by the time 2019 draws to a close.


I have found thinking about work targets a little difficult as I have a number of projects currently underway which therefore could all make for good, SMART, targets.   It is therefore key for me to think about what is most important and for this I think the development of a key statement of the schools IT strategy, to be shared with all staff and pupils, is most important.   Linked to this will be our approach to staff training on EdTech and also our device strategy for the next couple of years.    As it stands we are using 1:1 iPads however with these devices up for review in the next couple of years, now is the time to consider alternatives and make a decision as to the devices we will be using for the next 4 or 5 years.

As a more strategic goal I think my key area to work on in 2019 will be empowering my team such that they can lead on various projects across the school.    I think this year I need to make more use of my middle leaders and their skills, experience and knowledge and support them to be more proactive.


I have noted on social media a number of people identifying a single word to symbolise their plans for 2019.    I have given this some thought to try and identify what word I would most identify with and in my case it would be:


I need to reach balance as I seek to engage in social media, contributing to both the education and IT sectors, deliver as a Director of IT, be successful as a family member, father and husband and continue to develop as a professional and a person.    Balance therefore seems like the most important word.    My hope would be that next year when I get to the end of the year I can be more positive on what has been achieved having actually built in time to sit and reflect throughout the year, rather than rushing to cram everything in and finding the year has sped past in the blink of an eye.

And so 2018 draws to a close and 2019 begins.   I look forward to the year ahead which would be my 21st year working within education.    I have worked in international schools, further education, higher education, state schools and now independent schools.    I wonder what new opportunities and challenges I can find or create in the year ahead.


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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