Monday, January 31, 2005

This evening consisted of another meeting (mind-numbingly dull) and two phone conversations (both scintilating, for different reasons). I spoke to Lesley, who had a baby boy on Saturday (£7.60 or summat like that... seemed expensive to me!) and is gradually coming to terms with dyson-like breastfeeding and a huge queue of family who want to visit her. The other phone call was with El Boyo Wondero, after his first day as a wage monkey. He's got his own desk, computer, phone and two calulators. I'm not quite sure why he needs more than one number-machine, but that's the mystery of business! Now, though, I feel knackered - I suspect that I'm suffering from African Sleeping Sickness again. Better go off to bed. ZZzzzz...

It's the time of meetings: SAGGA publicity group two weekends ago; SAGGA committee meeting yesterday; Guide building committee this evening. My braincell hurts. The meetings are even taking up the time that I have allocated for marking. It's not often that I want to mark, but the pile's getting rather thick and I need some concerted time to make it go away. In other news, the Boringmobile's going well, although the cruise control makes me feel like I'm driving a toy car; it's something to do with having my feet toally off the pedals, I think.

On re-reading the above paragraph, this all seems rather disjointed. I guess that makes it a fair reflection of my life.

Friday, January 28, 2005

It's been a day of amusing little observations. My favourite has to be from Guides: girls in small groups making posters about disabilities and how to improve our meeting place. One of their suggestions? A big clock, just like Big Ben. It's all a question of perspective.

I've had the Boringmobile for about 30 hours. It's still got that new car smell; the floors are still free of parking tickets, petrol receipts and empty packets of Minstrels; I still don't know what all the switches do. It's been strange seeing the 'wrong' car in my parking space, and I did get a speck of sentiment in my eye when I said goodbye to the Beetle. Mind you, the Boringmobile's nice in its own, practical way. My mother would approve of its roomy boot and sensible appearance. It doesn't have the same 'brrroooom' as the Madmobile, but it *has* got cruise control (not that I can work it competently!) and holds its own on the dual carrige way. That's not 'holds its own' as in masturbation, I hasten to add, although having a car called the Wankmobile would bring many a chortle to a boring day.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Mental note: I must remember to go to bed earlier.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Today should have been the day when I swapped the Madmobile for the Boringmobile. However, an administrative cock-up on the part of my shitty insurance company means that I'm not going to get the necessary paperwork until Thursday, so no new car for me today. Bollocks. A stroppy letter to aforementioned insurance company is already being planned.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Times Educational Supplement is the bible for all job-seeking teachers. I've used its internet job advert service for a long time, but have only recently discovered its forums. Many of the forums and bulletin boards on t'net are full of geeks and spods; the Times Ed ones are worse because they're full of TEACHER spods and geeks. Seek them out at your peril! The group who use it most seem to be the trainee teachers, which is understandable, as they have far lighter timetables and far less marking than most. Some of them are touchingly idealistic, many are finding it tough going. Their comments range from pleas for help to brash statements made with all the authority of someone who has spent five weeks on placement in school. There have, however, been some interesting debates going on about the role of independent schools. For some reason, the mere mention of private education seems to bring out the worst in some people; there have been a lot of ideological comments that seem to work on the "I believe this, therefore I'm right, and if you're betraying this belief then you're wrong" principle. I am amused, to say the least, but - hell - if it's wrong to be teaching in a nice village with nice kids and nice colleagues, in a system that functions fairly smoothly *and* gives me nice long holidays, I don't want to be right.

This afternoon consisted of one good lesson, in which great progress was made, and one lesson in which three boys were utter shits, making no effort to participate in the activities I'd carefully planned, choosing instead to pronounce it all 'crap'. I felt really pissed off at them: they ruined what had been a sound day, and made me wonder why I even bothered to try to make the subject interesting. It wasn't until I sat back and thought about it that I realised how rarely I feel like this; at my previous school it would have been at least once a week. Today has been the first time in years. I am still pissed off at those boys, but it makes me appreciate all my other pupils far more. More than anything, I'm angry at myself for letting three arrogant little twats overshadow a good day's teaching and make me forget what I love about my job. Perhaps it's time for a (slightly delayed!) resolution: I need to focus on the positive and not lose sight of the big picture. Please keep reminding me of this...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Today has been a good teaching day. First was one of my learning support groups, focusing on electricity equations in physics. We practised saying and writing the equations (with a wee bit of NLP in there too!), then played with equations cards until they were all conversant with the four fomulae. It was one of those lessons that just clicks: it all worked, the kids learned a lot, and it was good fun too. My Upper Sixth group followed, making posters and presentations: chalk-and-talk can be too much all of the time. We ended up with five different pictures of aeroplanes stuck up above the board, plus a selection of paper planes blutacked to the lightshades. Needless to say, the latter have since been taken down to reduce the fire hazard - pah, I'm such a boring teacher! Lesson three was an extra support lesson for two of my Lower Sixth, who have been struggling to get their heads around price elasticty of demand. Although I think that a challenging exam question on the topic will throw them, it has made them feel more confident about asking for help: let's hope that it pays off. After this free lesson, it's off to the IT centre for a coursework lesson, and then lunch in the House, tutor group time, then I'm helping at a volleyball session. It's shaping up to be a good day!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The start of Lent Term is always marked by the inter-House music competitons, culminating in the House Unison event, where every single member of the House joins in singing a song chosen and directed by one of the sixth-form. This is performed, with much embarrassment, in front of the judge and all the other Houses; this year's performance will be next Saturday. It's always good to watch the Unison progress from baffled disbelief to confident musicality, normally via self-conscious shuffling and stressful moments in which the sixth-former loses the will to live. This year, the House have chosen a difficult song(Ain't no mountain high enough) and it's proving a challenge. Tonight was the first rehearsal in the main school hall, and it wasn't bad. It's got a long way to go before it's anywhere near good, but it wasn't bad.

Toady was cooking day with my D of E group: assorted pastas, bacon, eggs, cous-cous and rice... as one girl pointed out, it was a bit light on protein, but otherwise good fun. I'm going to make up for the lack of protein by eating lots of chocolate. After all, chocolate is made from milk, and milk is a good source of protein, therefore I need more chocolate to balance out my diet.

I also need it because I have acres of tidying up to do this evening and anything that raises my energy levels is a boon. Time to turn up the stereo and get hoovering, I think! :-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The word I would use to describe life out there beyond the firmly-closed door of this flat: "windy". Not just "gusty", or "blustery", but full-on trying-to-knock-you-over windy. Earlier the word would have been "wet". Or "hurty". I've not known sleet like it - it looked like snow, it was as wet as a fresh kipper and it hurt like a million needle picks as it slid into my shoes and the neck of my jumper. Other words to describe today are "thought-provoking" and "stimulating" (about dyslexing, which is getting more fascinating by the week); and "jumpy-up-and-down exciting" (pertaining to my Amazon delivery).

Today's blog has been brought to you with the help of Roget's Thesaurus and the ACE Spelling Dictionary, which is the bestest book of words ever and was a part of the aforementioned amazon delivery. Hurrah!

Monday, January 17, 2005

The joys of teaching:

Walking along the road at the end of break, I spy a boy heading towards me with his top shirt button undone and his shirt-tails hanging out of his trousers. I stop him, and ask him if he knows why I've stopped him.

Him: Because I'm eating toast in the street, Miss?

Me: No, for your shirt, but as you've admitted to the toast, I might as well tell you off for that offence as well!

Mua-ha-ha! :-)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!!! I am no longer going out with a dossy, unemployed student but with a man in full possession of a geeky job. This change in status, along with my change in car, has knocked nearly £200 off my car insurance. Yet another damn good reason not to dump him! :-)

While flicking through my computer files, in an attempt to solve my exponentially-increasing administration problem, I came across this little gem, written during my PGCE. I can't remember why I wrote it, but I thought it might amuse:

It was a Tuesday evening, about 10 o’clock; to be precise, it was the second day of being a teacher, as opposed to being a person with a notebook at the back of the class. My PGCE house-mates had collapsed in front of the TV, whilst I was on hands and knees cleaning the floor. Now, this may be an everyday activity for some, but firstly, I’m a student, and secondly, this was the floor of the school hall. What was more, the Head was looking on approvingly.

Before you become unduly worried, this was not the result of an uncontrollable Year 10 class, or a punishment for being too cheery in the mornings, (although I have been accused of the latter crime!). It’s simply one of those extra-curricular activities that strikes fear into those who hear its name...the school production.

Teachers from all departments had been coerced into helping: front-of-house; back-stage; dressing room crowd control. My part in all this was as a tree shifter and splurge cleaner...oh, and creating the odd custard pie! In true school production style, trying to co-ordinate 80-plus pupils was a continuous battle (“Where is Leroy the Boxer? He’s missing again!”) However, the first night was fantastic: the cast sparkled; the audience loved it; and even thought Leroy missed his cue again no-one seemed to notice. Post-production analysis (over pints and curry) was very favourable; none of us could believe what had happened, and how smoothly it had happened!

So it continued: by day I’d impart pearls of wisdom to classes I’d never met before; by night, I was deputy tree shifter with a cameo appearance as a comedy policeman - how I ended up with a walk-on part is beyond me, but it was fun anyway! By the end of the week I was running on nervous exhaustion, and on the last night nearly fell asleep in my curry. However, the struggle to get up each morning was worth it: even though I couldn’t recognise the pupils without their makeup and costumes, they all knew me. I became one of the staff, not just some student that lurked in the staffroom. I was there, I survived, and I have the dodgy photos to prove it!!

A true story:

In today's learning support lesson we were discussing how to plan and structure an essay. We'd talked through various titles they might get in English, and then one of them asked about writing blue. 'Blue' is the name given to punishment essays here: they are written on special blue paper and have to be a specified number of lines, normally 40. For a severe offence, a pupil might receive 80 or 120; the maximum length is 240, although I've never known of anyone getting that much. The title for the blue is set by the teacher: sometimes it's subject-related; other times it's an abstract title. I rarely use blue, but if I do then usually set "My favourite poem" or "My favourite type of music", although I have asked pupils to write about bagels and a calculator.

One of the teachers here often sets "The sex life of a snow flake" as a title for his blue. One of my learning support group asked how on earth you'd structure *that* essay. We talked about it, trying to decide what a snowflake's ideal partner would be like, and what might happen if they were a minger snowflake who stood no chance of pulling (we decided that they'd use ice-cube porn). I then asked them to use the same essay structure to describe the sex life of a brick.
"Well, Miss, it would get stuck to another brick with cement - that's like marriage."
"Hah, yes, Miss, that's when it gets laid!"


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I hate fucking photocopiers.

Not in that sense, you pervert.

I spent my entire lunch break trying to make 32 copies of a training booklet for today's D of E session. By the time 11 copies had come out of the machine, there had been another 7 copies destroyed by misfeeds and paper jams. Several trees died for my session on campcraft and pitching tents. For this, I am profoundly sorry.

I'm not sorry though for the language I used when I was trying to unjam the machine. Bastard thing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Well, I remembered how to teach. I survived dyslexing. I even made it to Brum for a curry. Successful first day of term: tick.

The boys are back in town, and - for that matter - so are the girls. There were girlie shrieks coming from the direction of the boarding house this morning, and manly voices out in the road last night as the young men came to pay their regards to our giggling girlies. It feels like they've not been away. Lessons start this morning (after chapel and assembly) and I'm not sure I can remember how to do this teaching malarky. Let's hope that it's like riding a bike!

Monday, January 10, 2005

Curse my shortsightedness! I have a staff meeting in just over quarter of an hour's time, and no doubt there will be start-of-term hugs and kisses. What have I just eaten?! A mushroom omlette, laced with garlic. Gaaah! (and that's just what my colleagues will say!)

My last weekend of freedom was spent in Sunny Windy Cheltenham, where I did little more than collapse on a sofa watching TV. 'Twas fun. This morning I was brutally woken at an hour that had a 7 - SEVEN!!!! - in it: does the man not realise that it's still officially the holidays?! Now, however, I'm back at my flat, trying to work up enthusiasm for the planning and organising that still needs doing before the kiddies arrive back this evening. To say that I feel rough is an understatement; perhaps I'd better go and have a shower so that I look respectable when I have to face my colleagues this afternoon. Pah.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Today I went and bought a new car, or at least signed a purchase order for one, ready to pick up in a couple of weeks' time. It's a 2003 Golf 1.6, silver, 5 door, CD changer... that's about all the technical spec I can remember! The engine's smaller than the one in my Beetle, so it felt bizarre at first, but it coped admirably with motorway speeds so should be fine running to and from Cheltenham. I didn't get the same buzz from driving it as I got from my Beetle, but it's a boring practical car so I can't expect it to be too exciting. I'm looking forward to having a 5-door again and a decent amount of boot space, but I will miss the curves of the Madmobile.

This morning is definitely a contender for the "woolly-thinking, slightly-squinting sort of day" award. I blame it entirely on my exploits at New Year - I've become nocturnal as a result.

OK, OK, some of the blame may also be apportioned to my friends, who offered me wine and then port, but they kept me amused with tales of their youth, so I can't object. The most amusing story was that of the lego vagina, built from technic lego, when the builder was only 11 years old. The builder's opinion of it now? "It was multi-coloured but very uncomfortable." My mind is still boggling.

On that note, I'd better go and look up some facts about housing. I tried this earlier on, but ended up getting sucked into the world of estate agents and trying to decide which house to buy if I had unlimited cash. Fun, but not very productive!

Am tryng hard to drink water but am as drunk as a drunk thing. There are only 15 minutes to go until it's two o'clock, and that means that I've been a pumpkin for nearly an hour and three quarters. Yikes! I wish that I had something coherent to say, but I'm not sure that my braincell's playing ball tonight. This morning. Whatever. Pah.

Must sleep....

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I failed to do much productive today, other than washing up after yesterday's epic entertaining, where E and J from university had my cooking inflicted upon them and - like the good little girlies that they are - ate up all their lunch without complaining. Sometimes my friends are sooo polite and well-brunged-up. I've also read two books, slept a bit, thought about planning, watched The Producers on film, AND fixed a friend's computer (geek alert!). Put like that, it's been busy. I think it's time for a nap.

Monday, January 03, 2005

New Year was spent in the company of Rob (the Boy Wonder) and assorted friends from university (and beyond) at the annual DOGS New Year party. This year we went off to a Scout centre near to Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire. We walked (rivers, mud, pubs, rain and hail all included); we ate (far too much, but very nice it was too); and we drank (I'll be off the gin for a while, I think). It was - as ever - lovely to see everyone, and it was also nice to be told that my man's a "top quality random". I think that's a good thing; certainly Rob's talking about attending NY next year, so thay can't have been *that* scary!

We got back home yesterday evening, and in that time I've made two recipes from one of my new cookbooks: home-made burgers and healthy chips last night; lasagne today. The lasagne was particularly impressive - it has a layer of butternut squash in the middle, uses creme fraiche instead of bechemel sauce, and is generally very scrummy. Hurrah for postponing my diet! :-) Rob says that he'll cook for me next time - I've already requested coq-au-vin but apparently it requires a three year old cock, so I'm not sure I'll get it next weekend. And yes, you are allowed to smirk at that last sentence.

I've now got just under a week to get organised for the start of term. I have lots of planning and sorting to do, plus gubbins for Guides and D of E. I'm also meant to be going with Lesley for her 8 month pregnancy scan. It should be a productive week, provided I managed to get out of bed in the mornings. Pah.