Friday, April 29, 2005

Way back in October, one of my Guides told me that her cousin was moving in with them temporarily, and asked if she allowed to come to Guides too. Of course, the answer was yes, and Katie bounded into the meeting place the following week and Guides has never been the same since. She's loud, funny, friendly, open and there are several donkeys round here missing their hind legs. Tonight, she left. Her dad is off to work in Australia, so she's moving to the other side of the world, to the land of kangaroos and snakes. The last five minutes of tonight's Guide meeting were a riot of t-shirt signing, address-swapping, hugs and even a few tears. Normally girls leave Guides when they outgrow it, so they slope off without too much fuss or sentiment. Tonight was different. It's going to be awfully strange without her.

The lesson observation went well, although I was able to carry all my resources down to my classroom in the bags under my eys. Must get more sleep. Must.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tomorrow, which is technically today, I get observed in action by my dyslexing tutor. It's the first time I've had to write detailed lessons plans since... oooh.... probably my teacher training year. It's been a bit of a culture shock. I'm still not sure that it's going to work, but I *have* drawn the best picture ever for a memory game. 'Tis too late to scan this beauty, but it will make its way here before long because I as soooo proud of it.

And I know that you're thinking "sad loser" at you read that last sentence, but I'm too tired to notice. Time to get some kip, methinks.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

It went well tonight, although I managed to drink so much water during the evening that I had to run back to the House with my legs crossed (metaphorically). Thanks for all your thoughts and comments. Now I'm as sleepy as a sleeping thing, and looking forward to crashing out in bed. Catch you all tomorrow.

Who says that there's something bad about memes?! Here's what I got (via Rob and Taj)

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:

Liberal Democrat

Your actual outcome:

Labour -20
Conservative -34
Liberal Democrat 87
UK Independence Party -13
Green 73

You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

In a moment of weakness, I agreed to be a member of a "Question Time" panel facing an audience of school's brightest sixth formers, as part of their extra-curricular academic development. The audience have been asked to submit questions in advance, and the first batch have been emailed through to us, the unsuspecting teachers facing the firing squad. My heart sank as I read some of the questions due to be fired at us.

"I read in a report that Classics will have disappeared from state education in fifteen years time, and from private education in twenty five years time. I already think it is a tragedy that the teaching of Classics today is not more widespread, and wondered whether you believe that a knowledge of Classics is necessary to modern education or whether you think it is correct that it is being phased out?"

The new Pope Benedict XVI, is said to take a very conservative view on issues such as abortion and contraception. However, does the panel think that he is right to take these views considering that a sizeable portion of his followers live in areas of the world where without contraception, AIDS runs rife throughout the region and is the cause of much pain and anguish and even results in death in some cases?

"I was intrigued to see a plan to "scrap university tuition fees" included in the Liberal Democrat's election manifesto. Whether or not the primary incentive for announcing this policy was merely the acquisition of more votes, I find the possible consequences of this policy fascinating. This would certainly be a more equitable policy than "top-up fees", although with regard to the premier universities in the UK, it could be argued that the gain in millions of £s worth of fees for the concerned institions outweighs the possible loss of a relatively small number of able, but impoverished candidates. It seems to me that there are more than enough financally comfortable candidates to fill the required number of places in these universities, and thus, with a view to improving the quality of education, perhaps the Democrats should be pledging to increase tuition fees?"

"Currently in the news is the story of Abigail Witchalls, the young mother who was stabbed whilst taking her young son out in a peaceful suburban area described by police as ‘the safest corner of the safest county in England’. Crime has gone up by over 15 per cent since 1998, and now despite the introduction of the new ASBOs it seems to still be on the increase. I put it to the panel to suggest how they would reform the yob culture of today and create a safer Britain."

Damn. What have I let myself in for?!

Monday, April 25, 2005

I sang too soon. It's now raining. Pah.

It's been gloriously sunny today. Apparently it was sunny all weekend too, but I didn't notice it because I was inside cooking, marking and sleeping (although not simultaneously). Today, though, I was let out, and got to walk the streets of the village with the sun on my back and a song in my heart. Admittedly the song was "Singing in the Rain" but at least it was a song.

This evening is due to be filled with GCSE marking and some more marking and then maybe some dyslexing. I'm quite scared at the excitement looming. I soooo love marking, oh yes.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

School is conspiring to absorb even more of my precious time. Rounders is to be my cross to bear this term on Mondays and Fridays; D of E takes up Wednesday afternoons and duty Wednesday night; dyslexing knocks out Tuesdays. I was supposed to be doing more rounders every Thursday, but have grovelled and been excused, on the grounds that I just cannot do everything that is asked of me. On top of this, I have all the usual gubbins of marking and preparing, plus a relationship to hold down. Bread-making is proving to be a good stress reliever. Eating the bread is proving equally as effective at relieving me of my thin-ness.

Eating has, in fact, been a theme of this weekend. Rob and I had 'fascinating' and 'miraculous' Chinese on Friday night. We grabbed a sandwich for lunch on Saturday, then cooked and chomped our way through French onion soup and homemade bread, and then glorified rice pudding with poached peaches. Admittedly there wasn't much to chomp on, but it was mighty tasty. Today was bacon sarnies (more fresh bread) and then steaks and stuff. I'm not sure I can move now without causing small tremors as my feet hit the ground. On the other hand, it's been great fun. Who wants clothes that fit, anyway?!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

When I spoke to the boy Bob, around 9.30pm, I had good intentions of going to bed early. Instead, I got geeking and decided it was about time I got my bluetooth working. It's taken hours, but I finally have a reliable way of connecting my new pooter to my phone. Photos to follow soon... if I start faffing with ftp I'll be here all night, not that there's much of 'night' left before it becomes morning. Whoops.

Super supermarket car park experience number one:

I was sitting in the car after parking up, and noticed that a bloke was trying to park his car in the two empty spaces to my left. He managed to park right on top on the white line dividing the two bays. He then climbed out of the car, looked at his parking, climbed back into the car, let off the handbrake and let the car roll backwards. Did he not realise that this would leave the lateral postitioning of the car unaffected?! Muppet. His wife just shrugged and went to find a trolley.

Super supermarket car park experience number two:

Driving into the supermarket car park this evening, I noticed a bright lilac, pink and purple van heading in the opposite direction. "Vote Veritas" was emblazened across the front, and as it drew level, I noticed the tagline painted underneath: "vote Veritas - the straight-talking party". Believe me, with a van that colour, 'straight' wasn't the word that sprang to mind.

Before I tell you about my two amusing supermarket carpark experiences this week, I must just express my anger and frustration with some six-legged beasties that have taken over my house. Ants schmants. Pah.

Have lost my diary. Bank and rollocks. How on earth will I remember what I'm supposed to be?!

Update: have just re-read this and realised what I put. Freudian, or what?! It was meant to read either "what I'm supposed to be doing" or "where I'm supposed to be" but I think it's probably more accurate this way. Tee hee.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Prep in the House runs from 7pm to 9pm, with a 15 minute break at 7.50pm. Just gone 8.07pm, I wandered upstairs into the sixth form common room. The sound of me opening the door made about 15 girls run off in all directions.

"Get into prep, you slackers!" I shouted after them.

"Ah, good to see that Miss E's back on form," grinned one girl as she ran past to get back to her room.

And being back on form, ladies and gentlemen, seems to be the theme of the day. Teaching: good. D of E: good. Pastoral form tutoring: good. Duty in the House: good. Thank goodness for that - I was beginning to resent my job.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

So far:

2 bits of coursework marked
1 tray of Chelsea buns proving on top of the oven
1 tray of assorted leftover dough shapes proving on top of oven.

Plan for the rest of the evening:

mark another piece of coursework
put buns in oven *
mark another piece of coursework
take buns from oven, glaze with milk and sugar
return buns to oven
wait three long, long, long minutes
take tray from oven
cram as many buns into my mouth as possible in five minutes
try not to be sick over coursework marking

The observant amongst you will notice that washing up does not feature in this list. This is because I have a boyfriend who is very good at washing up, and I might as well leave it until he visits this weekend. Mua ha ha!!

* And yes, I saw you smirking at 'bun in the oven'. Don't even think about it.

GCSE coursework marking is as dull as a very dull thing on a cloudy day. At least I've got Chelsea Buns in progress.

Still sleepy. Have taught some good lessons, though, in between the yawns. Now time for dyslexing. Yay.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Yesterday was my eighteenth the-day-before-term-starts day since I became a proper teacher. Every single one of those days, I got into bed, exhausted from an evening spent on last-minute preparation and faffing, and then couldn't sleep. I've spent hours lying in a darkened bedroom, fretting about the impending start of term. What if I can't remember their names? How do I go about starting a lesson? What if they won't be quiet when I want to begin the lesson? How do I explain the intricacies of the UK's balance of payments so that a 16 year old will understand? What if I forget how to talk? This morning I felt like shit. The moment I stepped back into the classroom and up to the whiteboard, it all came flooding back. Teaching today has been successful. I like my job.

However, I'm not so keen on the extra-curricular demands that this job entails: I lose nine Saturdays this term because of school commitments. Nine. Out of a total of ten Saturdays. To say that I am pissed off is an understatement. I need to start looking for a job that lets me reclaim my weekends.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

I arrived back in the land of broadband today, but had to spend my whole afternoon in bloody meetings, so have only just had time to catch up with all the email, phone calls and letters that needed sorting. I've not done any preparation for tomorrow, apart from last week's half-hearted, one-eye-on-crap-daytime-tv-whilst-allegedly-working planning. I've got a number of term sheets written that outline exactly what the kids will be doing each week: this may seem very organised but it's actually so I can get all my planning out the way in one go, and then leave the kids to get on with it. That's the theory anyway!

I've been down in Cheltenham since Tuesday, although with a day spent with Lesley and family in Stoke (I got to help with David's reading, writing and maths homework... I'm such a teacher!) I also spent a day at my parents' house, learning how to make bread. It's taken four attempts to replicate my mother's loaves, but I'm nearly there. Kneading the dough has proved surprisingly theraputic, and I suspect that there may be stress-relief baking going on throughout this term. Orders for bready products can be placed via that box o'er there and I'll post it to you.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Whoops. Forgot to sleep. Pants.

Nestling at the back of my drinks fridge I found not one, not two, but four bottles of champagne/sparkling wine. I'm always loathe to open a bottle when I'm by myself - I've never been able to work out how to drink it all before it goes flat. However, on Jen's hen weekend I learnt the trick of 'teaspoon in bottle mouth keeps champagne sparkling' Eager to try out this technique, I managed to persuade myself to crack open a bottle last night (I justified the extravagance by refering to Champagne's limited shelf-life, and the fact that some of these bottle have been in the drinks fridge for quite some time. I'd hate to offer guests a glass of champagne, only for them to die from fizz poisoning. It would have been rude not to have tried it out. So far, it seems to be fine.)

Last night I drank half the bottle, and this evening, on removing the spoon, came the moment of truth... Was it still fizzy? Would I be forced to drink the remaining half a bottle through gritted teeth, bewailing and bemoaning the lack of bubble? Luckily for me, the bubbles had stayed. I never knew that teaspoons had such power. As I type, I'm just about to start my second glass of the evening. Rock and roll!

The washing didn't actually get done until today, but today it got done in such epic proportions that I think I washed nearly every item of clothing I own. That should keep the washing monster at bay for a week or so.

I also continued with the cleaning I started yesterday evening when I finally got out of bed (I read a book and watched some DVDs before getting my arse out from under the duvet). I've sorted through my Guiding box and thrown out all sorts of random, not mention old, paperwork. Some of it is so ancient it should probably be consigned to the county archives. Instead, I fed the bin and the recycling box.

It's been lovely being at home doing nothing but low-key mooching and pottering. I've not been here very much during this holiday, and I'm off again tomorrow, not to return until two hours before the start-of-term meetings next Sunday. These last two days have been like an oasis of lounging in a holiday of rushing about. I've got a couple of days at Rob's this week to spend on preparation for next term: it's mostly revision so it's both easier and harder than 'normal' teaching. Summer term means exams and stress and last-minute scribbling of essays to be marked for the next day; it also means cricket and free periods and sun and pimms. I like summer term.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Guide camp over. Am now flagging. In fact, two 1950s girl guides practising their semaphore wouldn't be flagging as much as I am. Think it's time for some tea, and then bed - the washing can wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Pants not big enough after all. Bugger.

Preparing for a Guide camp the night before you go away is - I am coming to acknowledge - flying by the seat of your pants. Thankfully, being a Guider, I have very big pants, so it's all going ok.

The wedding on Saturday was lovely, and the reception was held in a magic hotel that suddenly whisked us away to London. At least, that's the only reason that I can think of to explain why the drinks were so damned expensive. I can cope (just!) with £4.25 for a glass of wine, but I can't tell you how much they charged us for a jug os Pimms. Bastards!

There are some out there who claim the cure to hangovers is Heinz Cram of Mushroom soup. I reckon that my man's mushroom risotto has to come a close second. The only problem with using risotto to cure my slightly wobbly head was the need to drive to Cheltenham. Luckily, the journey was fairly uneventful, apart from a tosser in a Volvo trying to pull out into the side of the Boringmobile; and the 999 call made to report the teenage lads riding on cycles down the motorway's hard shoulder. One bike even had two passengers. Muppets. C'est la vie.

Yesterday was spent tarting up an assignment for my dyslexia course (how thrilling!) and then off to the theatre to watch Dracula. It was a modern interpretation with some good magic tricks, but it wasn't quite sure what type of play to be. Dracula in particular did a lot of looming and threatening, and then destroyed the moment with a cheap throwaway comment. The jury's still out, methinks.

Guide camp starts tomorrow. In preparation, I bought 19 clear plastic small storage boxes from a nice young man in Partners. He looked slightly bemused, but not so confused as the woman in the craft shop where I bought more glass paints than you can shake a stick at.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

I got back from the land of no-net-access last night. I spent pretty much all evening dealing with 15 new voice-mail messages, 74 emails and trying to locate a calor gas supplier. All were completed with varying degrees of success. I have a 'To Do' list longer than a sperm whale's willy (which is a very long distance, let me assure you) so I can't fritter away hours playing with my blog. My shopping list for this morning includes 12 toilet rolls, 17 clear plastic pencil cases and four 4.5kg gas refills. Rock on.

(It's Jen's wedding this afternoon and I have just found the top I want to wear crumpled at the bottom of my laundry pile. Whoops. I may have to wear an ironed-dry shirt at this rate!)