Blog 600. On Being Grateful.

I started this blog back in May 2012 messing about with a picture of me standing in my kitchen.  I didn’t know what I was doing or where it would lead.  Amazingly, seven and a bit years on,  this is my 600th public published blog post. The stats show that I’m close to hitting the 5 million mark for blog views which I find hard to comprehend.

I was thinking of writing something to mark the 600th blog post when I realised that, in fact, I would already have passed that milestone some time ago had I not taken some of my blog posts down; not deleted but hidden from public view – and they don’t count in the total.  These are all posts I wrote in 2017 when I was still recovering from losing my job and I was finding my feet in the new scary world of self-employment.  This set of posts, if you were to see them, are not the words of a person in control of what they’re saying or someone thinking very much about the other people concerned – they’re raw, personal and overly emotive; there’s a fair bit of lashing out.  To be honest, I got a lot of positive feedback for writing them – but actually it wasn’t very healthy to be so public about personal things so, as part of the process of moving on, I took them all down.

Two years further on, I’m now in a very different place and, rather than feeling full of recriminations, I just feel a profound sense of gratitude.  I want to record some of that here in this re-set count: The 600th blog posted on

I’m grateful to the first wave of people who offered me work in spring 2017. One of these was Paddy McGrath at The London Academy who invited me to his school and now features in Fieldbook, my latest book of case studies.  Another was Alun Francis from Oldham College who called me with a fabulous proposition that has since turned into our Teaching for Distinction programme.  Paddy, Alun and various others helped me to feel that I had something to offer.

I’m grateful to people who asked me to engage in longer-term projects, giving me a sense of shared mission, even in a small way.  Alongside Oldham College I’m now working with Brune Park, Turton, Colchester Institute and Kents Hill Park and they’ve allowed me to feel connected to their improvement stories.

I’m grateful to Alex Sharratt at John Catt who, in February 2017, emailed me to ask if I’d like to write a book for them.  His email literally coincided with my email to him asking if I could write a book for them.  It was meant to be! Learning Rainforest was published two years ago yesterday!  I poured a lot into it and I’m deeply grateful to everyone who has responded so kindly – including two of my heroes, Dylan Wiliam and Dan Willingham.  I’m so grateful to Dylan for writing his foreword to the US edition – I still find it hard to believe that actually happened.   A lot of people helped guide that book to where it finished and I’m grateful for all their kindness.

I’m grateful for Twitter – I don’t know what I’d do without it.  When you no longer have a place of work where you engage with a team of people every day, it means a lot to have a forum for making contact.  I know it has its faults but generally it’s such a powerful and positive force and I love being part of the edutwitter community.  I’m grateful to all the people who follow me and to everyone who creates the output that makes it so useful, interesting and full of camaraderie, wit and joyfulness.  There are a few people worthy of  sainthood for indulging me when I post clips of me playing the guitar… that’s really beyond the call of duty but thanks for listening!

I’m grateful to have such fabulous collaborators.  John Tomsett and Mary Myatt were my partners in our recent tour of Curriculum Masterclasses events.  It’s been a massive joy working with two lovely, wise and funny people who I respect enormously; two people who have offered me nothing but encouragement since I first met them.  Oliver Caviglioli is brilliant to work with on book projects.  We’re currently working on a major publication that will come out next year and we’re in constant communication sharing ideas – it’s just such a great experience.  I feel a real sense of gratitude for having these three people to work with.

I’m grateful to Tom Bennett and Hélène Galdin-O’Shea for all they do running ResearchEd.  I’m grateful that I’m invited to speak at lots of events and that my requests to speak are accepted. Each event is an amazing feat of organisation and I’m grateful that  all I have to do is rock up and do my little bit.  Recent events in Cape Town, Dublin and my home town Farnham in Surrey, have been sensational successes. I’m grateful to be involved; to feel part of it. It’s given me so much – including starting the ball-rolling giving me a platform for sharing ideas about Rosenshine’s Principles that led to the book being published earlier this year (cue Alex and Oliver once again.)

I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to travel, to meet people all over the UK and in various parts of the world.  Nearly every day I’m in a school or at an event meeting teachers and leaders and I’m grateful for the welcome I receive everywhere I go. I’ve got trips later this year to Dubai, Cairo, Kathmandu and Macau – and future plans for trips to Australia and Prague. It’s beyond my wildest expectations that I would get to see the world in this way.   The Fieldbook was my way of capturing some of what I see on my travels and that in turn has given me a lot to be grateful for.  I just love the response I’ve had from each of the contributors; they’re so pleased to be involved and I’m grateful to each of them for supporting the project and making it such an interesting read.

Finally, I’m grateful to my lovely family; my wider family and my immediate nuclear unit!  What an amazing group of people!  Of course we all love our families.. but we don’t always take the time we should to express gratitude for who they are and the joy they bring into the world.  We’ve just spent the most wonderful day together, just the four of us,  and I”m grateful for all days like this, just being around each other, our little team.  It counts for so much.

So, there you go. Post 600.  There’s more than enough nonsense in the world to drive us to despair if we let it but right here and now, I’m counting my blessings.  It’s not always been plain sailing but life is good and I’m grateful for it.





  1. Hi there, Thanks so much for your continued inspiration. I’ve been trying to take your rainforest to the actual rainforest! I’ve just returned from Accra where I used your book on Rosenshine with a group of 27 lead teachers. I work with a project called Warwick in Africa where we support the development of English and maths teachers in local schools in Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa. The programme brings lead teachers together to discuss and collaborate on teaching and learning at an annual conference, as well as training new lead teachers at Warwick every spring. We also have student and mentor volunteers who work in the schools and support the lead teachers to run workshops for others. This year we had 197 maths and English teachers from over 30 schools at the Accra workshops alone, and other workshops elsewhere in rural areas as well as cities. It was a fantastic experience. Thanks again for ideas and material. I’m trying to work out a way to drip feed ideas to the teachers throughout the year. Many of them don’t have regular internet access as data is so expensive and the schools don’t have a regular power supply, though their WhatsApp network is wild! All best wishes, Catriona

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  2. We all have lots to be grateful for. I’m at the point you were at the start…did my first blog yesterday! Here’s to being continuously grateful for the experiencea we have on a daily basis, both inside and outside of school!

    Liked by 1 person

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