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January 15, 2012 / mrespiers

5 things I learned in 2011

This is a bit late I suppose.
Late in the sense that this post is a reflection on 2011 and late in the sense that I haven’t posted at all since November.
Still, I didn’t make any resolutions about posting more often or every week (although I did start this) so better late than never.
I visited some beautiful places (Berlin, Montreal, Snowdon, Pompeii) and had some incredible weekends with friends. I have learned how much playing football with a great mate every week or watching rugby with other great mates can do for your well-being. I have learned how much fun it is to take a 2 year old swimming and how much I love to have a bonfire.
…and here are some other things I learned in 2011, in no particular order:
1, I learned to drive and over 19 years since my 17th birthday I passed my driving test (at the second attempt).
If I had stayed in London I would probably never have bothered and I fully expected to be awful at it and hate it but, after a slow start I began to quite enjoy driving. I learned that I should continue to try things out, even when I’ve put them off for years. I learned that the worst thing about the whole process was the anticipation and I learned that 7 small mistakes (2nd test) is better than one big one (1st test).
2, I learned about ‘communities of practice‘ as I started my MSc in Education, Technology and Society.
I learned a lot else besides but Wenger’s work on ‘communities of practice’ has stayed with me as I have started my new job. The most enjoyable aspect of starting my MSc was remembering how much I love learning. I also met some great people and look forward to picking up the studying again later this year.
3, I learned what PLN stood for and how useful one could be.
2011 was the year when my Twitter use really started to take off. I gained about 100 followers over the year but, more importantly, it really started to feel like the main part of my ‘personal learning network’. Through Twitter I learned about TeachMeets and attended my first one at Clevedon School (thanks @ictevangelist) (and learned loads more things). It was via Twitter that I found out about Purposed and subsequently started my own blog so that I could take part in the 500words campaign. It was a combination of Twitter and my blog that then led to me writing for Creative Education and the Guardian Teacher Network (and I hope to repeat this in 2012).
I had one of the best meals of my life because of a Twitter recommendation and within hours of asking had several offers of people who were happy to mentor some of my students.
It took some time but Twitter has really come alive for me. Give it a try if you haven’t already and stick with it when you do.
4, I learned what Alfie Kohn meant by The Myth of Homework…
…but also learned how deeply entrenched people’s beliefs about the value of homework really are. As a response to what I learned I have thought about homework more than I have for years and as a result have set two of the homeworks that have produced the most interesting results in over 10 years of teaching. I will be writing a post about this in the near future.
5, I learned how low the wrong job can make you feel and I learned the opposite.
I was reminded everyday for quite a long time how incredible my wife and friends and family are. They helped me through a very difficult time and I learned a lot about myself, some of which I liked and quite a bit that I didn’t. Some I may share here some time in the future and some I probably never will.
Finding a new job where I have to learn new things and remember old skills has been brilliant and the staff have been supportive and welcoming and I look forward to the rest of 2012 with optimism.


Leave a Comment
  1. Megan Owen / Jan 17 2012 11:00 pm

    A very personal, inspiring and motivating read Eugene 🙂 here’s to a happy and prosperous 2012!

    Also, I love that as such a youngster in school I’ve been doing something for 6 years longer than you!! Shows what you can learn at any age if you put your mind to it.

    • mrespiers / Feb 6 2012 9:58 pm

      Cheers Megan – I welcome any tips!

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