Happy New Year 2016!

I’ve never really been one for New Year’s resolutions.  Instead, I try to do a more regular challenge to myself so that I don’t have to build up all of the things I want to do until January.    It is much easier for me, after all, to get something done if it isn’t made into some big ordeal.  Even so, I set myself two resolutions at the end of last year.

Swimming Challenge

I wanted to enter a swimming race of some sort again, and so vowed to do the best I could to enter Masters Swimming again.  It’s not easy to find clubs that were easy to get to.   In my local area, the swimming pool was being reconstructed/refurbished and so the local group practised at the local girls’ grammar school.    They let me take part in a few practises and they were all very welcoming and helpful, but in the end I decided that it was too late at night for me to continue.   I decided instead to continue my daily lunch-time swim, not affiliated with the Masters, near where I work.

The problem was that no one is allowed to compete in a Master’s swimming competition without being part of a swim team.   I decided to give up on this goal as lack of time and money didn’t allow me to dedicate myself enough to take part.  Instead, I decided to join Swimathon.   This isn’t a race, but a charity swim instead.  I told myself that 100 lengths in a pool would be enough to satisfy the requirement of this resolution.

I enjoyed the swim much more than I originally thought I would.   It didn’t involve a massive change as I already swam every day.  Instead, it involved a slow ramping up of the distance that I do.  In the end, I was able to finish the event in 45 minutes.   I’m already looking forward to this year to see if I can get a better time.

Writing Challenge

I thought it would be a good challenge to try and get some of my writing published somewhere.   While I failed miserably on this challenge, I did learn some valuable things.  First, getting published takes time and a lot more effort than I originally thought.  I did have some very good comments from some publishers (but mostly silence in response to my submissions).  In the end, however, I felt that if I was going to try and put a lot of effort into my writing, it wouldn’t be a short story.

I started to write a novel back in April, and was able to complete the first draft in September.  I was under no illusion that I would be able to publish it by the end of the year, but instead I shifted the end target from the end of 2015 to “eventually” to buy some time.  I’m in the middle of my second draft now, and I am glad that I changed this goal to writing a novel.  That may be cheating to change a New Year’s resolution, but I’m glad that I did it.  It’s been good fun.

Resolutions for 2016

I don’t think that I will set any goals for 2016 other than to carry on.  I want to try and finish a few drafts of my novel and maybe send it off to a publisher if I think its ready.   I also want to continue my swimming, and am considering entering the swimathon again to see if I can beat my time from last year.

I might be more political against my better judgement due to the elections in the USA, but I have a feeling that things will end badly over there this year, and I’m not sure how much impact I’ll have other than getting in a few arguments with family members and random people on the Internet.

One thing I will say about 2015, is that it was the first year that I could put my former teaching career behind me.  I was able to fully realise my role at my new employment, and find that I enjoy it quite a lot.  There are even a few people I’ve been able to give some lessons on computer programming to, but at work it seems more purposeful.

I wonder, sometimes, if there were a way to change education a little to make it so that what students learn in lessons could directly impact their life at school so that they’re not learning just to learn, but instead seeing the impact of their lessons and work on a daily basis.   I’m not sure how that would work in reality, but the one thing that is beneficial of a life outside the education system is that you can much more easily see the results of your efforts.

Often in schools, you put everything you have into helping students progress, only to have them move on the next year and you rarely get to see them afterwards to see if anything you did had an impact.   Occasionally a student will come back to visit you again, but this only if you don’t move around that much.  I moved around way too much during my teaching career.   There were reasons, always, for moving on and looking for the next school (tragedy, arguments with management, moving house, etc), but it is easy to look back and wonder how much of an impact I had, and if it was all worth it.

The only measure I have to go on is that the parents at my last school got together and invited me back to my former student’s graduation ceremony from primary school even after I vowed to myself to never return.  I’m glad that I did return as it remains one of the most memorable and unexpected things in my life.

To any teacher out there who is giving it their all, you are having an impact even if you don’t feel that you are.  It is a rare thing to be in a situation where students feel willing and comfortable to say thank you, and I was lucky enough to get that in a very unexpectedly loud and public manner.  It remains a feeling that I wish I could share with each and every teacher out there, especially the many amazing teachers who I worked with in the past who are still giving it their all even now.   I am glad that there are still many people out there who can do what I could not.

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