Monday, December 16, 2019

Living out of a suitcase

As my regular readers will have noticed, I haven't blogged for a while.  Partly this is because my mother died in the summer and I just couldn't face putting this fact into writing for the world to read about.  I felt bereft.  I felt that my reason for living in the UK no longer existed.  I felt purposeless.  Dealing with grief has been so hard to bear, and I'm still not sure I know what I want to do next.  Initially I said to people that I would attend the London Search Associates job fair, but as time has ticked on I haven't registered for it and now I think it's probably too late.  I think my procrastination has been telling me something:  maybe I don't want another full-time job in an overseas school at this point.  The big question is what do I want to do?

In September I started to do some supply work in a local school.  I was covering for the deputy head of the school who had been seconded to another school for a time as the headteacher.  This gave me a deep insight into what is going on in UK schools from a very practical perspective.  I would say that my big takeaway from this is that schools in the UK are not training students for the future - the skills being taught are generally low-level thinking skills, and there's not a lot of critical or creative thinking.  Students are taught the things necessary for them to do well on the SATS tests at the end of each key stage and these things, by their nature, are things that can be tested (creativity, communication, caring, inquiry and so on clearly are not tested because they cannot be).  Our children are coming to see that what is valuable is being able to remember and regurgitate.  This experience left me feeling very sad.

On the other hand I've done a lot of workshops, school visits and consultancies for the International Baccalaureate.  In fact I could characterise the last few months as simply living out of a suitcase. This year my travel schedule has looked like this:

Warsaw -> Doha -> Dubai -> Dartford -> Dublin -> Johannesburg -> Durban -> St Petersburg -> Madrid -> Lusaka -> Livingstone -> Egham -> Riyadh -> Doha (again) -> Maastricht -> Vienna -> Dammam -> Abu Dhabi -> The Hague -> Doha (again) -> Beirut -> Copenhagen and Helsingborg -> Hannover -> Vienna (again).

I have enjoyed all these visits though at times my body has not known what time zone I'm in, and at other times I've felt I've had just one day to turn around (wash clothes, dry clothes, pack them back into the bag again) before setting off to the next destination.  I'm hoping I can continue with my travels until such times as an opportunity comes along that makes me think that it's the right next step for me.  I suppose all this is karma - being in the right place at the right time and saying YES to whatever the world is telling me I need to do next.

I do have some visits planned for next year.  I have a couple of jobs in the UK, as well as consultancies in places such as Germany and Kazakhstan, after which I'm planning to travel through Uzbekistan.  I have a visit to a school in Romania planned as well.  I'm hoping I can get some more work with private providers as well, otherwise it's back to supply teaching here in the UK again.

As a way of getting back into blogging again I've decided to start looking at the PYP Enhancements and to look at the changes that will be coming into the PYP as a result.  That certainly should keep me busy for a while!

So thanks for hanging in there through all the months - and look forward to a lot more posts from me in 2020.

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