Nurture 2016/17

Right, here goes: 3 good things that happened in 2016 and 5 good things I want to happen in 2017.

1. I had a daughter

Bloody hard that. I mean, I didn’t have to push her out of an orifice, but I did have to not break into a million pieces when it looked like her Mum might die. And now they’re both doing fine. Annoying sometimes, but definitely not as annoying as I am. So that’s good.

2. I became a HoD

Head of English. I like English and I like being a head. Perfect job really. 

3. I wrote for the TES

As an English Teacher who will always be a failed novelist, it was important for me to see my name in print. And now I have. 


1. Do something about mental health

I don’t know what. Something. Donate some money to charity; help someone else through a tough time; finally write that blog in which I admit to all the shit I go through on a daily basis. Something. Probably, I need to sort myself out. The constant feeling like an impostor; the constant cowering from conflict. When I was a kid I used to fight. I don’t fight anymore and I feel weak. 

2.Talk at a conference

This one makes me a little bit sick, because I’m perfectly aware that others might think I lack the credentials to do so. And I get that. When I see what other people are writing at the moment, and what they are achieving and doing, I feel remarkably inadequate. Which leads to my next point.

3. Do Something

I want to do something. Something that isn’t a pithy tweet or a sentimental blog post devoid of any academic merit. I want to engage with something and I want to trial something and I want to write about it.

4. Write more.

I don’t write blogs any more. Here’s why:

  1. I feel as though I can’t even get close to the quality of other people’s blogs. In terms of writing style, but also content. My (relatively) young age (31) and my (relatively) unacademic upbringing simply can’t be an excuse anymore. It needs to change.
  2. I don’t want to piss anybody off at my current school. My best writing comes from being pissed off. This is a problem.
  3. I’m tired. 

I need to work something out.

5. Improve things.

Results. I want results to be better than they were last year. 

2016: My Blog Posts

Here’s a run down of my top 10 most viewed blog posts from 2016.

10. An Insight Into the Male Experience: 447 views

In this one, I tried to explain that books and GCSEs and degrees won’t always make everything okay. For some people, in certain situations, brute, physical force is all that means anything and if you can’t fight-or if you aren’t scary enough- you will be made to feel shite by other people. And feel shite you will.

9. Okay, So You’ve Read it. Now What?: 452 views

Teachers who read more, must be better than those who read less, right? In this post, I explain how I change my reading experiences into teaching experiences.

8. Corridors: The Ultimate Behaviour Management Tool: 476 views

Written from experience, not research. And based on something my mentor, John Hardy once told me.

7. Allusion: Teach It: 490 views

I never write enough English blogs. And it frustrates me. This one pleased me for two reasons. Firstly, it’s the closest I’ve ever come to writing like @Xris32 and secondly, Doug Lemov got in touch after reading this. And that meant a lot to me; for me, he’s a celebrity.

6. Dear Boys: 642 views

This originally started out as a performance poem. But then I got sick of a) the way women talk about boys and b) the way boys talk about women. So I published it. It’s unfinished.

5. I’m Too Good For This CPD: 673 views

This one peed a lot of people off, mainly because the arrogant tone of the article. It should be noted, I used behaviour management simply because it was the first thing I thought of. I could’ve chosen any other area of education: data, SEND, subject-knowledge. The point of the piece isn’t ‘I don’t need any more behaviour management training’; rather, it’s ‘give me some training that I want. Please.’

4. 8 mistakes we make about Boys and English: 848 views.

There’s loads more than 8.

3. In Defence of Similes: 1309 views

Inspired by a piece @Joeybagstock wrote, this looks at similes. I’m really proud of this bit:

And, with similes, a young Italian man can be in desperate love with a young Italian woman he perceives to outshine all others , but – because he remembers she is human -he needn’t die due to a blinding devotion that mars his ability to make rational and informed decisions.

2. There’s More to Life Than Teachers: 2167 views

In which I acknowledge that students have a life beyond school. A life that helps them to do a load of stuff we overburden ourselves with trying to teach.

1. Dear PE Teachers: 10,400 views

Over 10,000 views in about two weeks this one. Unbelievable. Josh Clayman was holding a PE teachmeet at my school and I wanted to say something; I’d just read Sam Leith’s ‘You Talkin’ to Me’ and I wanted to try and write a speech that follows the six part structure of rhetorical arrangement. It’s all there- Exordium, Narratio, Division, Proof, Refutation, Peroration. I delivered the speech in front of a crowd of PE teachers and then I got home and published it online. Someone posted it on facebook and then it all kicked off. Enjoyed every minute of it.


Yesterday, I took the day off sick. I’d vomited twice, my head felt like a squishy breeze-block, and cold sweats meant I got through two lots of bed sheets in one night.

I dealt with it. I’ve been ill before and I’ll be ill again. What I did struggle with, however, was being unable to kiss and cuddle my baby daughter. She’s nearly six  months old and she’s everything. Honestly, sometimes I cry for love of her. 

Since coming back to work, six people have asked me about my ‘man-flu’. All in the usual jeering, mocking tones I’ve come to expect from women who delight in the use of the term. After all, men can’t genuinely be ill can they? Not when they’re supposed to be so strong and tough. 

Today, when I think of the little girl-my little girl- who hasn’t had a kiss from her Dad, female trivialisation of my illness doesn’t seem so funny.