Looking Back on 2016

2016 was a strange year in many ways, but I did have four big wins.

Thinking sculpture at Chatsworth

The web is full of bloggers reviewing 2016 at the moment, so I thought I might as well jump on the bandwagon and write a review post too.

2016 was definitely, umm, interesting? Usually days can go by before anything remotely interesting happens on the news, but this year there were times (plenty of them) when I felt I couldn’t miss a single bulletin, the changes were coming so thick and fast.

Brexit, Trump, Syria, industrial action and strikes by so many diverse professions,  terrorism, Jo Cox, Labour Party turmoil and elections, the London Mayoral election, a new Prime Minister, celebrity deaths …

But on a personal level, 2016 has been rather kind giving me four big wins.

Walking the Kungsleden

I spent the summer in Sweden and finished the trail I’d started two years ago. I walked for almost a month, wild camping and carrying all my gear and food. I walked slowly and camped wherever I wanted enjoying every moment of my time in the wilderness.

I walked the least popular and most isolated parts of the trail, rowed across a lake for the first time and took my first ever selfie as I walked across the Arctic Circle (the selfie is probably a bigger achievement than actually walking across the Arctic Circle as I hate having my photo taken and so NEVER take selfies).

Getting my Website Up and Running

I started setting up my website early in the year and kept tweaking and not wanting to make it live until it was perfect. Then, before I left for Sweden, I realised that if I keep waiting for perfection I’d never go live. So I clicked the button and made it available for the world to see. There is still sooo much I need to do on it, but bit by bit I’m learning and improving.

I’ve learnt so much about websites and blogs this year. I joined Travel Blog Success and the course I’m slowly working my way through has been really helpful. I’ve also found so much help on other blogs and websites for which I’m really grateful. I’ve still got lots more to learn, but I actually believe I can do it now.

Becoming a Special Needs Teacher

This actually started in 2015, but 2016 is the year in which I learnt the most and felt I was on the right path.

I started the year by having my contract extended at the school I’d been working at before Christmas. I was responsible for a small class of 14-17 year olds all with severe learning and physical needs. To say it was a steep learning curve is a massive understatement.

With the help of two wonderful and experienced teaching assistants I was able to complete the year feeling I’d made the right move when I left my mainstream permanent job and switched to special needs supply teaching.

At the start of the new academic year in September I was asked to return to a school I’d taught at when I first began supply teaching. This school is also a special needs school, but my role was quite different because, instead of having my own class, I was teaching Maths to different classes and working with students from 11-16 years old all with quite different needs and abilities. I technically finished there at Christmas, but they’ve already asked me to go back in January.

The more time I spend in special needs schools, the more I realise that I don’t want to go back to mainstream. As I have no training in special needs I have an awful lot still to learn, but there is so much support and help available and I enjoy it so much I don’t feel at all daunted by this.

Trade Union Work

I’ve been an active trade unionist for several years and this year I’ve become even more involved. Attending and being a delegate at several conferences, including representing several hundred members at a special conference in which we voted for my union to join with another teaching union, was a particular high.

I’ve also been able to get involved more widely with the union attending and representing my local branch at regional meetings and being elected to represent supply teachers from the North West on a new national forum. I’ve organised my first lobby and protest and had a few great weekends attending (free!) courses learning lots and meeting some great people.

The One Thing I Didn’t Achieve

I feel like I had four really big achievements in 2016 and overall feel quite satisfied with the year (let’s forget about politics for a moment). In fact, there’s only really one thing I wish I had done and that’s finish my first book.

I’ve been so busy with everything else, that it’s got pushed to the back of the queue. The draft and all the research is done and so as 2017 starts I need to prioritise getting it edited and then make some decisions about how I’m going to publish it.

On the plus side, because I finished the Kungsleden this summer and had a better idea of what I needed to do to get a first draft written, I’ve pretty much already written the first draft of the sequel. Having this written gives me a better idea of what I want to do editing and publishing wise. So maybe not finishing it wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

How was 2016 for you? What were your biggest wins? Share in the comments below.

Author: Anne

Join me in my journey to live a life less boring, one challenge at a time. Author of the forthcoming book 'Walking the Kungsleden: One Woman's Solo Wander Through the Swedish Arctic'.

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