Reflections on a year that was, and a year that might be…not that easy, actually. Introspection, emotions and laying bare to others, not natural bedfellows in my world. ‘Traveller’ genes from my mum meets ‘Irish Diaspora’ genes from my dad, may help explain the interesting hybrid that happens to be me. But, I like me, and I grow ever more comfortable in me.

Was going to flow in calendar year format, but doesn’t truly reflect the ‘trading blows of love, joy and sadness’ that life and I exchanged this year. Jumping chronology, stay with it if you can please:


  1. We started the year in Asia’s world city: Hong Kong. In the New Year, we made the decision as a family to return to Glasgow as my children wanted to be home. A simple choice? Yes. The Right Choice? Yes. For me, a choice laden with mixed emotions? Yes, but for US, the right choice…
  2. August 26th, Monday evening: Man Utd v Chelsea. Happy to watch. Missed the game. My daughter taken to Yorkhill Hospital (my admiration for this place and these people; limitless). Diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes- wow, “You sure Doctor, I screamed silently. She is my princess, this doesn’t happen to my babies?”
  3. First day of secondary school for my other two babies, back with their friends and back into the lives they missed. I’m very happy that they are happy- if I can’t get it right for my own family, does it not make it harder to get it right for other peoples’ kids?
  4. Continue to marvel at the strength and courage of my wife. She is going through things in life currently that test resilience, that magnify the lens on your values to a point where you sometimes ponder, “Is this picture we see distorted? Is this a view afforded only to us?” “No!” I love your values ‘cos they are you and as hard as things can be, your moral compass always points in the right direction- thank you.
  5. Met twitter- love it.
  6. Sat in the staffroom on the last day of summer term at South Island School, everyone had gone and I sat in silence for 20 minutes. If you know me, that is a picture seldom painted, but I loved it. I said goodbye and thank you to so many wonderful people and so many wonderful experiences that will live with me and through me, forever.
  7. “Vice Principal in a Top International School- beat over 200 applicants and came through two days of ‘Special Forces” interviews to get the job” Mindset changed over two wonderful years. I am so fortunate to be here, and I want to leave a legacy, not because of ego, but perhaps because things that are worth leaving behind are worth leaving.
  8. Did I make a difference? I’m not sure. Is that a question I should ask as a senior leader? Yes. I think I did a little, I hope I did a little. If my colleagues, my pupils, my parents think of me and our time together, and a smile or a feeling of warmth ensues, for even the most fleeting of moments, maybe I did..
  9. Coached the best group of lads I have ever coached at football. Won the league, lost the cup on penalties and, throughout, a ‘little field of dreams’ allowed me to switch my tap off from school, and enjoy a world full of different characters, full of a different language but cemented in life long friendships and laughter.

10. Said goodbye to all of them in July, but the ‘inner circle’ are my friends for life. I love people, I love life and I loved my time with them, and they now ‘live in my caravan of life, and one day, who knows, we may get to sit around the same campfire again, and break bread together once more…’

11. Back to life and work in Glasgow- what an amazing summer we had. The weather was gorgeous, we could see the sky, and we had fun..alot of fun, with family, with friends, with each other…

12. I am slowly falling back in love with my ‘new life’ again in Glasgow. I am so fortunate to be a DHT in my school, with my colleagues and with our pupils…The school will fly and I really, really want to be part of this journey with everyone. “We can only make the Road by Walking together”

13. Started writing a blog. RMG on twitter cajoled, blackmailed, teased and gently prodded me in the right direction, and him amongst many, I consider to be a friend now- thank you. Like me, my writings can be hard to access but if some people read them, and they cause any spark of introspection, any moment of reflection and further provocations to be asked, then…..maybe the time and energy is worth it.

I am very much a ‘glass is half full’ type of person. I have my flaws, like any of us, but my flaws are as much me as my virtues. Understanding my hopes, my dreams, my wishes for 2014 is quite easy actually…really, did I just write that? Easy?

 The numbers don’t reflect the order of importance, yet the following 14 mean, in different ways, a lot to me. Achievable? Aspirational ? If they create a ‘conscientisation’ beyond the confines of my world, my thoughts, my dreams, then maybe. That is in itself important to me. As WB Yeates said so beautifully, “I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”


1. That a focus on learning and teaching wins the contest between the systems and structures world. How we do as important as what we do…

2. That I continue to spin the plates of ‘life in SLT’ and attend to the right ones at the right time. The rhythm of SLT; a funny beast at times.

3. That I walk out of my classes as a teacher and think, “that was good, I enjoyed the learning a lot- hope my pupils did also…?”

4. That I continue to think on a Sunday evening, yipppeeeehhhh, school tomorrow…

5. That the culture of coaching we have developed in school really does make a difference. If done well, it is so powerful and our pupils have been so, so insightful in the peer2peer Programme that we have recently set up…

6. That in June 2014, my S6 kids (Year 13) think back on their time at school with fondness, joy and smile, even maybe, through a tear…

7. That my hopes of setting up ‘Disruptive Dialogues’ as an Education Question Time come to fruition. The first one is aimed for Feb/March and the aspirations are clear- now the energy and passion to turn into a reality in my city of Glasgow, with a welcome mat to lay down for all teachers, everywhere, anywhere…

8. That if the above comes true, then we can raise some money to help both Diabetes UK and the recent victims of the Clutha tragedy…

9. That I see more of my friends, I’m not too good at that…

10. That I fall back in love with my kettle Bells… ‘Hugh Jackman body and face double.com’…

11. That everyone who is a teacher reads either ‘The Boy who was Raised as a Dog’ or Freire and Horton’ We Make the Road by Walking’…

12. That twitter and blogging continue to feel like an enrichment to my life, and never a chore…

13. That twitter teachers understand the power of words and language, and four simple ones: ‘as with-in, so with-out’ and continue to treat each other with respect and collegiality when our opinions may differ. How we are on the inside projects to the world outside.

14. To continue to be in awe of my family. I love them very much and perhaps my biggest wish and dream they wrote for me in my Christmas card. An edited version reads:


“Walk a little slower daddy, said 3 children so small

We’re following in your footsteps and we don’t want to fall

 Someday when we’re all grown up, you’re what we want to be,

Then we will have a little child, who’ll want to follow me.”


Slow down Mark, you’ve nothing to prove and all to enjoy…

Thank you very much for reading,

If you enjoyed in any way, the last 4 hours were, perhaps, worthwhile…





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7 Responses to #Nurture1314

  1. supersixfive says:

    Honest and heartfelt Mark, a well written and inspirational piece. And that gets me thinking I should start Blogging properly this year.
    Enjoyed our twitter chats and call me if you need any assistance with your 2014 projects

    Best wishes for 2014


  2. Jill Berry says:

    “I like me, and I grow ever more comfortable in me.” I think this is so important – and quite rare! We tend to be overly critical of ourselves, I reckon. But we do need to work on how we can become more comfortable in our own skin…. (Think Growth Mindset!)

    Thanks for sharing this, Mark. Enjoy Christmas and your family and friends, and I hope 2014 is a very positive year for you.

    • cijane02 says:

      Thanks Jill, I learned so so much from my HT in HK…Am not the same senior leader I was two years ago, and not the same person. Life throws twists and turns our way, i’ve learned that me being me may help meet these things. If I get them wrong, I wasn’t planning to, but from that, I’ll learn forward.

      Have a great 2014 Jill, maybe one day when ‘Disruptive Dialogues’ grows, we’ll get to meet up,

      Best Wishes,

  3. a fab post, can’t wait to discover “disruptive dialogues”.

  4. Thank you Mark! yes the last 4 hours were definitely worthwhile! Inspirational and moving! And thanks for the WB Yeats quote – have heard it before but now resonates more deeply. Realise that it is part of how I try every day to live life. Happy New Year to you and your amazing family.

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