Tag: job (page 2 of 7)

Weeknote 23/2015

This week I’ve been:

  • Working four days with City & Guilds. I was down in London on Wednesday and Thursday this week and stayed at the London City Suites run by Montcalm. It was quite posh but I still prefer serviced apartments.
  • Running a digital literacies workshop for the Scottish Social Services Council on Friday. As seems to be par for the course these days, slides from the input part made the Slideshare home page. After an extremely delayed journey, I stayed at the Destiny Scotland – St. Andrew Square Apartments. Which was fab.
  • Finalising details for a ‘brown bag lunch’ at City & Guilds around Open Badges. Looking forward to that one as there’s lots of interest across the various business units.
  • Working on a six-month plan with a super-secret codename for City & Guilds. I’ve also been looking at recommendations for them around internal communications. My Twitter network helped with that and I’m building out a wiki page.
  • Writing up a report with some recommendations for Gateshead Council around Open Badges after our meeting last week.
  • Putting together issue #176 of my weekly newsletter Things We Learned This Week. This was the last week of C-Learning’s inaugural sponsorship. Huge thanks to them! I’ve got sponsors lined up for June and July, then I’m taking August off from writing. Let me know if you know anyone who’d like to sponsor any month from September onwards!
  • Sending through my bio and abstract for my CELT conference keynote in Galway later this month.
  • Reading a couple of interesting articles around Open Badges. This one in particular deserves to be re-read.
  • Meeting up with the people behind Chirp and suggesting Open Badges as a use case for their technology. I wrote that up here.
  • Booking a place on the next stage of the ladder to become a Mountain Leader. I’m doing a Mountain Skills course over the course of a weekend in July.
  • Finding somewhere to swim while down in London. Doing a quick 50 lengths on Wednesday re-energised me. This was particularly important due to the extreme hayfever/allergy reaction I seemed to suffer towards the end of the week affecting my right eye and ear.
  • Taking our brand-new secondhand Ford Focus Estate into the local garage due to a fault. I knew we should have bought a German car. <sigh>
  • Interviewed by Ian O’Byrne as part of the process accompanying the article we co-wrote with Greg McVerry about the development of Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map. You can watch that on my Literaci.es blog.
  • Reducing the price of The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies to £3.99. More about that here.
  • Kicking off a conversation around the technical side of badge pathways thanks to some prompting by Nate Otto and a great ‘badge constellations’ drawing by Bryan Mathers.

Next week I’m in Barcelona from Monday to Thursday for the ePIC conference. It’ll be great to meet friends old and new in the Open Badges community! On Friday I’m at former colleague John Bevan’s dotcomrade event in London.

Image CC BY-NC-SA Chris Scott

Weeknote 22/2015

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m up in Glasgow on Monday, at home on Tuesday, then in London Wednesday/Thursday. Depending upon whether the rail workers’ strike goes ahead, I may or may not be running a digital literacies workshop for the SSSC in Edinburgh on Friday!

Image CC BY-NC-SA Chris Yarzab

Weeknote 21/2015

This week I’ve been:

Next week there’s a Bank Holiday on Monday, and then I’m not going down to London. Given that I’m meeting with Gateshead Council on Wednesday, I’ve got loads of travel in June, and it’s my kids’ half-term, I thought I’d stay up here for a change!

Weeknote 19/2015

This week I’ve been:

Next week we’re getting a Nest learning thermostat installed on Monday, and I’m down in London on Tuesday and Wednesday as usual.

Image CC BY-NC Duncan Toms

Weeknote 18/2015

This week I’ve been:

This coming Monday is a public holiday (although I’ll be working on proposals) and then my wife is accompanying me to London on Tuesday/Wednesday. I’ll be working as usual down there, and then back home to work Thursday/Friday from my man cave.

Weeknote 17/2015

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m in London Tuesday/Wednesday working from the C&G offices, running a webinar on digital literacies for Lund University in Sweden, and reviewing my first month as a consultant. I think I might start calling myself into the office again at the start of each month…

Image CC BY Mark Freeth

Weeknote 16/2015

This week I’ve been:

Next week I start what I hope to be a regular routine. I’m planning to get the train down to London early Tuesday morning, stay over, and then come back Wednesday evening.

Image CC BY-SA Loz Pycock

Why I left teaching five years ago

Last week after another extended FIFA15 session I tweeted:

This led to the anonymous blogger behind Exit Teaching getting in touch via Twitter for the backstory to me leaving the classroom. I’m happy to share it as it’s something that a lot of people in similar situations struggle with. I hope it helps someone!

1. Why did you become a teacher?

Teaching was actually something I’d actively tried to avoid! My father had been Deputy Head of my high school and I’d seen how busy he’d been. I was in my third year of a Philosophy degree when I realised that I was about to need a job. My dad advised me to do my PGCE as ‘something I could fall back on’. After completing a self-funded MA in Modern History, that’s exactly what I did and became a History teacher. I loved it! I’d often say that if there was a roof over my head and food on the table I’d have taught for free!

2. What was your previous role? What are you doing now?

I taught History and a bit of ICT for six years in total. My last job in teaching was as Director of E-Learning of a large academy. I was there for a year and left in 2010. In April 2015 I made the jump to full-time consultancy after some time with Jisc in Higher Education and the Mozilla Foundation, where I was on their education team.

3. Why did you decide to leave teaching?

I skipped middle management and went straight into senior management. I guess I blagged the interview. The position was in an academy that took over nine schools, including three I used to attend – and the one in which my father was Deputy Head. Some of my old teachers were in senior management with me, and some were still full-time in the classroom. Added to that, I was writing my doctoral thesis at the time and had a two year-old son.

Looking back, there were three main reasons I decided to leave teaching. The proximate cause was that I was asked to spend most of my time around behaviour management-related issues. This frustrated me as I felt I was doing too much of it. Another reason was that, although as a cocky twenty-something I felt that I was ready for anything, to be perfectly honest I could have done with some middle-management experience before taking the role. I was thrust into a position where I was line managing two failing departments and one where the Head of Department had just suffered a bereavement. I was a bit out of my depth and wasn’t supported.

The third reason is that I’m an ‘ambivert’ and somewhat of a perfectionist. While I can appear extroverted in social situations, I need time to recharge – but my teaching style didn’t give me the opportunity to do that. It felt like constantly being on stage. I was burning myself out term after term.

3. How did you leave? What were the challenges?

How it ended was a bit of an anticlimax. I won’t go into the ins and outs but I effectively looked around for anything that would get me out of the situation. I realised that I had to choose between a) staying and trying to make a difference (against the odds) in the area in which I grew up, or b) being there for my family and finishing my thesis. I chose the latter and started a job with Jisc infoNet, based at Northumbria University about a year after I’d started at the academy.

The Researcher/Analyst job I moved into was primarily office-based and I took a £10k pay cut, but there was a good deal of national travel. That was great for networking. Originally, I thought it would be a very temporary measure before returning to the classroom in the next academic year – but that never happened. I finished my thesis, made some good friends and contacts in Higher Education, and realised there was life beyond teaching.

4. How do you feel about work, career and life in general now?

I’m still very much in touch with the teaching profession. Almost everyone in my family is, or has been, a teacher. My wife is a Primary School teacher, some of my friends are teachers, and I still have a large network of people I follow via social media. In many ways, the work I do supports teachers of all stripes. At Jisc it was providing resources and guidance. At Mozilla it was inspiring and bringing people together. Now, in my new consultancy role, it’s all about problem-solving and providing solutions.

The work that I did in teaching in my twenties was unsustainable. I wouldn’t be able to do it now, in my mid-thirties, never mind in my forties or fifties. It may have been the way I approached the profession, but it’s no wonder so many people get burned out. It’s not particularly their fault – it’s the situation in which we find ourselves.

You don’t have to work all the hours and have no social life to make a difference in the world. In fact, that’s probably a recipe for being out of touch with society and making yourself into a basket case. I’m much healthier now – I’ve started drinking chamomile tea, going to the gym/swimming every day, and even trying yoga and pilates! I’m calmer, happier in my own skin, and of more use to others.

5. What advice do you have for those thinking about leaving teaching?

I’m asked about this all of the time. In fact, one of my most popular blog posts of all time is one that explores the reasons teachers leave the profession. One of the problems is that moving into a different role outside of the classroom is often seen as a ‘failure’. Another is that, because it’s often a ‘vocation’ that people often go into an early age, those looking to move on aren’t always aware of their transferable skills.

I’ve found that my ability to stand up and engage only moderately-interested teenagers is a particularly useful skill. As is my ability to get things done. Invention is the mother of necessity, so the workflows you develop as a teacher stand you in good stead for getting stuff done outside of the classroom. Planning, preparation, knowing how to talk to external stakeholders (i.e. parents) – all of these are in-demand qualities.

Everyone’s situation is different and so it’s difficult to give generic advice. What I would say is that if you feel that your job – any job – is getting in the way of things you think are important, then you should consider doing something else. If your health (both physical/mental) or your relationships are suffering, stand back and re-evaluate. Teachers tend to be extremely loathe to take time off because of the ‘burden’ they’re placing on others. However, that’s the school’s problem. If you need to take a couple of days to get your head together, then do it. Better that then long-term absence and a cascading series of problems.

There’s so much opportunity out there. Teaching is a valuable and rewarding occupation. But it’s also stressful and relatively low-paid (if you stay in the classroom). Take your time to discuss it with people you know and respect. If there’s a consensus, start looking for something else!

Image CC BY-NC Thomas Hawk

Weeknote 13/2015

This week I’ve been:


  • Finishing off my part of the Hive Toronto Privacy badges project. GitHub repo here.
  • Submitting my final expenses and health & wellness invoices.
  • Writing about Web Literacy Map v1.5 (my last post on the Webmaker blog!)
  • Editing the Learning Pathways whitepaper. I’ll do as much as I can, but it’s up to Karen Smith to shepherd from this point forward!
  • Backing up everything.
  • Catching-up one to one with a few people.
  • Leaving Mozilla. I wrote about that here. Some colleagues gave me a Gif tribute send-off and dressed up an inflatable dinosaur in a party hat. Thanks guys!

Dynamic Skillset

  • Helping out DigitalMe with an event in Leeds around Open Badges. I wrote that up here.
  • Preparing my presentation for a keynote next week.
  • Collaborating on a proposal to scope out Open Badges for UK Scouting.
  • Replying to lots of people/organisations who’d like to work with me! 🙂
  • Finalising things for next week when I start working with City & Guilds for most (OK, nearly all) of my working week.
  • Getting to grips with Xero (which is what I’m using for accounting/invoicing)


Next week I’m spending most of Monday with my family before heading off to London. I’ll be keynoting and running a workshop at the London College of Fashion conference on Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday I’ll be working from the City & Guilds offices, getting to know people and putting things into motion!

Image CC BY Kenny Louie

Today is my last day at Mozilla

TL;DR: I’m leaving Mozilla as a paid contributor because, as of next week, I’ll be a full-time consultant! I’ll write about that in a separate blog post.

Around four years ago, I stumbled across a project that the Mozilla Foundation was running with P2PU. It was called ‘Open Badges’ and it really piqued my interest. I was working in Higher Education at the time and finishing off my doctoral thesis. The prospect of being able to change education by offering a different approach to credentialing really intrigued me.

I started investigating further, blogging about it, and started getting more people interested in the Open Badges project. A few months later, the people behind MacArthur’s Digital Media and Learning (DML) programme asked me to be a judge for the badges-focused DML Competition. While I was in San Francisco for the judging process I met Erin Knight, then Director of Learning at Mozilla, in person. She asked if I was interested in working on her team. I jumped at the chance!

During my time at Mozilla I’ve worked on Open Badges, speaking and running keynotes at almost as many events as there are weeks in the year. I’ve helped bring a Web Literacy Map (originally ‘Standard’) into existence, and I’ve worked on various projects and with people who have changed my outlook on life. I’ve never come across a community with such a can-do attitude.

This June would have marked three years as a paid contributor to the Mozilla project. It was time to move on so as not to let the grass grow under my feet. Happily, because Mozilla is a global non-profit with a strong community that works openly, I’ll still be a volunteer contributor. And because of the wonders of the internet, I’ll still have a strong connection to the network I built up over the last few years.

I plan to write more about the things I learned and the things I did at Mozilla over the coming weeks. For now, I just want to thank all of the people I worked with over the past few years, and wish them all the best for the future. As of next week I’ll be a full-time consultant. More about that in an upcoming post!