• 2019 – A very brief review…

    So, as we come to the end of the 2010 decade, I’ve been told by several very close and special friends that I really need to put my thoughts down in a blog! It is something that I’ve been meaning to do for quite a while, but I’ve never actually been able to commit to doing it. 

    In fact, I’ve never looked at my past experiences and journey as something that could inspire anyone. If anything, I used to look at my journey with regret, that I had stayed in a place that I was so miserable for 10 years and that I hadn’t pushed myself to what I could be capable of. People around me have always told me that I need to get off my butt and push myself as I’m not gonna get anywhere being the IT geek in a school. No one cares about that. So, I felt embarrassed to tell anyone about my journey. I didn’t feel it was a story worth telling. If anything, it was a story of failures and sheer damn luck in most cases. Definitely a case of faking it and hoping to make it. But then events in 2019 taught me how failure was nothing to be ashamed of and to actually celebrate those failures. Seeing as 2019 has been the year that inspired all of this, it seems the right place to begin.

    Looking back at the start of 2019, things were definitely looking up. For the first time in my career, I was in a good place. I was flying high at work. I’d just led my Multi Academy Trust, through a rigorous digital transformation programme centred around Google’s G Suite for Education. It had gone rather well. The continued opportunity I had working closely with the Google for Education team and their respective partners had given me an energy boost that I had been craving for a long time. I had made some very good friends and very useful connections in the EdTech industry. I was happy. That’s definitely not something I could have said earlier on in the decade. 

    January has always been a very exciting month in EdTech. Most people are coming back to school refreshed and relaxed after a pleasant winter break with the family. New Year’s resolutions are set in and people are raring to go. The reason I find January so exciting, is because of the Bett Show. I’ve been going to the Bett Show for 14 years. 2020 will mark my 15th year at the show. It’s weird to think that that makes me a veteran of the show. Even most of the shows organisers haven’t been there for that long. It only feels like yesterday I was attending my first show at London’s Olympia. I’m immensely grateful for my experiences at the Bett Show. I have said time and time again that I am where I am because of the invaluable connections and networking opportunities I have had at the show. It’s those opportunities that have enabled me to be who I am today and where I am today. For that I am eternally grateful.

    It was at 2019’s show that Dean Stokes (Google for Education’s Adoption Lead for EMEA) pushed me to apply for the Google Certified Innovator program. Considering I wasn’t even Google Certified in any way whatsoever, that was going to be a tall ask. But he gave me the push that I needed. I soon got myself in to gear, got over some very big examination nerves and got both Google Certified Educator level 1 and 2 out of the way by March, giving me just under a month to get my innovator application in. All this was happening whilst I got promoted to IT Director! You’d think that was the pinnacle for how awesome 2019 was going to be. But no, it was only April and the awesomeness hadn’t even started yet!

    Just the process of actually doing the innovator application, was so huge for me. Getting over the imposter syndrome of whether I was actually good enough to apply in the first place. But apply I did. Successful I was. What proceeded over the months of May and June leading to the actual academy in July was the beginning of a truly life changing experience! From the outside, you think it’s just another three day professional development course. That is so far from the reality! Forget everything you actually learn. Just the connections and relationships you make becoming a part of the #GoogleEI family are life changing. 

    The academy came and went like a blur in July, giving me three of my most amazing days of my personal and professional career. But it’s those 40 odd people you share the experience with who go on to become some of your closest and most cherished friends. And that’s all before you come back to reality and then connect with the wider #GoogleEI community and find just how awesome the rest of the 2200 innovators are!

    Post academy, my outlook on life completely changed. It opened my eyes to the world and just how small and local my thinking really was. Prior to the academy, I only really connected with people from around London and sparsely from the rest of the UK. Now, I connect daily with some truly amazing people from around the world. The months of August to December have whizzed by like mere weeks. Every day that has gone by since has been truly amazing. I’ve never felt so energised in my career to go out into the big wide world and inspire people and make a real change that can impact children’s lives for the better. 

    I’ve got so much more to say and so many people to thank for making 2019 my best year ever. I could list them all here, but that wouldn’t be doing them any justice at all. So, in my next post, I’ll definitely be going in to greater detail as to who these people are and why they are so awesome!