Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy Hogmanay!

I hope everyone reading this has a good evening and a very happy new year!

I still have lots to do:
  1. Mark 45 exam scripts.
  2. Write 47 reports.
  3. Plan a lot of lessons / schemes of work.
  4. Mark Year 7 assessments.
  5. Write a Methods and Methodology report.

That's just the most urgent things ... I haven't progressed much this holiday so far! But tomorrow is the beginning of a new year, so hopefully I can get some of these things done!

New Year's Resolutions tomorrow, I think ... !

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Aesop's Fables

Number 4

A woman owned a hen that laid an egg every morning. Since the hen's eggs were of excellent quality, they sold for a good price. So, at one point, the woman thought to herself, "If I double my hen's allowance of barley, she'll lay twice a day." Therefore, she put her plan to work, and the hen became so fat and contented that it stopped laying altogether.

Relying on statistics does not always produce results.

Tell that to SMT! Lies, damned lies and statistics ...

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a great day yesterday!

I went to two services on Christmas Eve. In the first, the priest read from the Qur'an, describing how important the Virgin Birth is to Muslims. In the second, the minister compared Christmas to the Nintendo Wii. So an interesting and informative evening ... ! Out of both the services, which each began with a Carol Service, we only sang about two or three carols twice - Still the Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and another one. Don't even think it was O Come All Ye Faithful ...

Got home not long after midnight to discover that Santa had been and had left only a drop of sherry and a couple of shortbread crumbs. Greedy Santa. None for us.

Fortunately he left the presents, although they seemed to be all over the house rather than simply under the tree ... A nice morning, though!

We spent the day at my sister's. A delicious meal and lots of charades.

I hope you all had a peaceful and enjoyable day!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Safe Journey

Apparently there were ten or twenty million cars on the road yesterday, and we were in one of them. Fortunately we didn't see most of the rest of them ... perhaps they were clogging up the city centres instead! The motorways were quite quiet. Or perhaps travelling late at night has its plus points!

We've now arrived in foggy Scotland for the holidays (apparently we've brought the fog with us!) and I'll have lots of Christmas preparations to keep me busy. Hopefully I'll fit in the essay writing, marking and report writing at some point! (But not today!)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Alice in Wonderland at Fortnum and Mason

Christmas shopping had to be completed today ... so we decided to mix it with a walk past the Ritz and down to Fortnum and Mason.

The windows in Fortnum and Mason's are the talk of the city, so it was nice to see them. Here's Alice Following the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole.

Here she's taken some drink - or cake? - and has grown so large she can hardly fit in the house.

Alice meets the Cheshire Cat ... and his grin.

Here are some of the Knaves who had to paint the roses ... but here they are guarding the champagne, tea and biscuits.

Alice joins the Mad Hatter, the Mad March Hare and the Dormouse for the Tea Party.

And after the trial, she is surrounded by cards as she grows and grows out of Wonderland.

The interior of the shop was very nice too! (And smelled lovely!)

Confiscated

Just found in my handbag what must be one of the stranger things I've confiscated ... the handle from a window. I meant to leave it in the classroom, but obviously couldn't put it down again until the class had left, by which time I had forgotten about it. Wonder what I should do with it just now?

Other than that, I can't believe that I'm travelling north tomorrow, and we slept in (I had set the alarm for 9am, but it didn't go off, and we slept in until after 11am). We are trying to tidy up just now, and we still have Christmas shopping to do ... and it's already starting to get dark! The washing machine is on the go, but there's still more to do ... Will we make it? I am hoping to have an early night. Let's see!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's the holidays!

We've finally arrived at that longed for day ... the beginning of the Christmas holidays!

The end of the term is marked each year by a Carol Service, with the support of the excellent forty-strong choir, and the superb drama production - which this year broke with tradition by featuring a fairly standard retelling of the Nativity story. With a postman as the messenger, Gabriel. Lots of good little touches ...

Unfortunately my pleasure was seriously inhibited by the fact that I kept having to turn round to tell some of the boys in my form to stop talking, sit up, listen, leave each other alone etc. So five of them now have a detention on the first Monday back with our Head of House.

I managed to eventually finish the Sixth Form Reports and joined the rest of the staff at the pub after most of them had left ... still, quite a number of my friends were there so I stayed for a bit. Left when they started on the shots, though! Could hardly keep my eyes open on the way home ... managed to arrive in one piece, though, and now I know I can rest a bit, which is great!

I will still be in touch over the holidays, charting what a teacher gets up to when they're not at school ...!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Where does the time go?

Spent a whole non-contact period sorting out A Level notes and putting them into plastic wallets in a folder. It's amazing where the time goes ... I managed to write three letters to parents, and that was about it. There are so many things to do and so little time!

Tonight I need to:
* Write Sixth Form reports
* Write notes for AS class
* Mark GCSE papers
* Start writing Year 11 Reports
* Mark Year 7 assessments
* Put these grades / levels into our pupil database

And there's not much time left now, either, since we've already played Scrabble and eaten dinner!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Heads of Department

Met with another HoD today, who will give me support in my new acting HoD role in the run up to our Ofsted inspection. I thought I was getting by okay, but now we've met I have a much bigger picture of what needs to be done! (And what can be achieved ...) I think I was viewing my role in an interim capacity, but I now feel a bit like a Head of Department with a bigger vision, more responsibility for what the department achieves, and a three year rolling plan!

All our Schemes of Work need to be rewritten, in the light of shorter lessons and streaming. Assessment for Learning is a key area of development, and this requires us to look closely again at the attainment levels. I should perhaps delegate more to the department ... anyone like to volunteer to rewrite the Year 8 Mass Scheme of Work?! We also need more consistency across the department in following the lesson plans and in welcoming the pupils to class ... and it's up to me to make sure that happens! Our next departmental meeting could be interesting ... quite full, too, I think!

At least when Ofsted come, I'll be able to show them my long term plan, and explain what we are implementing and when. We will probably trial peer and self assessment first, then roll it out over the next three years, until everyone is used to it. We may try to come up with some new resources. I need to try and balance new resources with our diminishing budget though ... And will anyone want to volunteer for departmental detention duty?

Lots to think about then! I think I've been sitting back to much and letting my HoDs get on with things ... now I need to take action, and be the person telling others what needs to be done, and who needs to do what. This will take all my assertiveness and determination, I think! Wish me luck in this new adventure!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Genius

Talent is hitting a target that no-one else can hit.
Genius is hitting a target that no-one else can see.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

Just heard this quote on CNN. Liked it ... thought I'd put it somewhere so I could find it again!

By the way, my to-do list is still too long ...

* I'm writing the NQT report at the moment
* I've written the short article for the school magazine
* I've marked one set of books
* I cooked lunch ... but haven't cleaned up yet

I did have a snooze ... so, there's still marking and report writing to do. And Christmas cards to make. And cleaning up to do.

To do today ...

My to-do list for today:

* Write an NQT report
* Write a short article for school magazine
* Write a reference for a Sixth former
* Write Sixth Form Reports
* Start thinking about writing Y11 Reports
* Mark GCSE Mock papers
* Mark 3 sets of books
* Make some Christmas cards
* Cook/clean (I plan on making stovies today, perhaps with lamb chops)

Well, it's not yet 12 noon ... so I suppose that means I have about ten hours before I go to bed, so no excuses not to get a fair bit of that done ... definitely must do the top three, make a start on the fourth and attempt some of the others ...

So I better go now!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Walk Down Portobello Road

We've had a lovely day wandering through Notting Hill and down Portobello Road. It was our first time visiting the market, and it was quite inspiring in places!

It was a glorious day - cold and crisp, but dry, and not a cloud in the blue, blue sky. After getting off the tube we missed the road that would have led us quickly to Portobello Road, and instead continued walking away from the market. This was nice, though, since it took us past some pleasant Georgian architecture and locked subscription only gardens. And eventually we realised our mistake and found some great little specialist bookshops - travel and cookshop in particular - on our way to the famous street itself.

We walked along past the market stalls selling colourful scarves, dresses, floppy hats, rasta flags, old army uniforms ... having our nostrils pricked by the Italian aromas of olives, fresh bread, salamis, French crepes, the salty seaness of crab, red snappers, prawns, the Turkish scents of falafels, coffee and incense ... our eyes feasting on fresh vegetables and fruits, our ears filled with jazz and street traders calling out their wares ... pausing now and again to touch soft cashmere, or to pick up old binoculars, to fondle amber beads or to feel cotton tops. We walked under a bridge, hearing the roar of a train passing overhead, and decided to have lunch. At Thai Rice, to be exact. I had delicious red curry with chicken and coconut rice, and H had stewed duck with noodles. Both delicious, aromatic, filling. The photo above is of the sink, filled with pebbles, which I quite liked, too!

Having eaten our fill, we headed off into the darkening street, visiting the many antique market stalls as we proceeded. We saw a complete set of "Chapman and (something!)" Dickens for £165, a set of four medals for £100, old sets of wooden and iron golf clubs, Nazi helmets and stars, Victorian lace nightshirts, many amber beads, Box Brownies and other antique cameras, canteens of ivory cutlery ... in and out of the mini-markets we wandered, until we reached some of the more mainstream shops. Here we saw many colourful and tasteful dresses, jumpers, jackets, a pub lit by candlelight, shops filled with London memorabilia, coffee shops ... We stopped at the Oxfam Book Shop, where we met an author publishing his first book about Hollywood, but decided (regretfully, embarrassedly) not to buy it, but did buy many Classics for small amounts of money.

Reaching the end of the Road, we turned along a smaller street, where I was drawn to this Italian deli selling pizza, which had an eyecatching window display!

We finished our buying in another secondhand bookshop; in all we bought about ten secondhand classic books today, so hopefully I'll be able to get closer to reading all 1001 Books! I also finished reading "Hideous Kinky", by Esther Freud, on the tube, so that's another one crossed off my list!

All in all another wonderful day, and we even managed to get a little bit of Christmas shopping done as well! We will be back ... some time!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Exhausted! - but in a good way

Well, I'm exhausted! Still recovering from the party last night. Very enjoyable. It was held in a little local theatre, the music was good (a nice selection, mostly quite jazzy with some eighties and some Bob Marley thrown in for good measure) and there was a lovely display of tasty fresh food, homemade bread, pates, cheeses, scones, pastries, crudites, dips, mince pies, stollen cake, pannacotta, mini scotch eggs and many other tasty items. There was some surreal musical entertainment ... We were up dancing, and got chatting to some nice people. A lovely evening ... but a late night for a school night and I'm paying for it today!

The bizarre entertainment!


We passed our first nativity scene on the way home ... thinking about it now, it was in the window of an estate agent, I think ... ironic, perhaps!

Fortunately school finished at lunch time and the pupils went home to leave the teachers to enjoy our Christmas lunch. Am just in and will go and have a snooze now. Can hardly keep my eyes open!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Another party!

I was expecting it to be a fairly easy day, three lessons, three non-contacts, two in the morning when I would prepare for the AS class, and one in the afternoon when I could start marking the GCSE papers. However, the GCSE mock exam was in the morning, and I was down for invigilation, so that used up that time, and then following an incident with another member of the department I had to track down a class and keep them for a detention at the end of the day. So all in all it ended up being quite busy!

Can't stop now, because we're on our way out to another Christmas party!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another day, another dollar

Year 7s were still quite noisy today, but at least they managed to copy out the Hail Mary and a picture of Rosary beads ... that resulted in a little bit of quiet for short periods of time. Note to self: Must do more copying.

The Year 10s were spectacularly underwhelming today in the amount of work they completed. Not impressed. Eventually most managed to complete enough work to just about gain them a G in the exam ... shame when they are capable of so much more. Hope that the new year may see some new leaves being turned.

Had a good middle managers' meeting tonight. We were looking at different teams and the characters in different teams. What sort of team player am I? Then I chatted with an ex-colleague who has set up a subject blog for her pupils. Very inspiring!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Year 7 headache ... continued!

I'm sure you've all been waiting to hear with baited breathe how the Year 7s were today ... Well, after sending them all outside, extricating a couple from a fight, sending them into another classroom, feeding them into my room one at a time in silence, and sending out six again for talking or shouting out, we eventually managed to have five of them contributing to reading the Luke's Gospel story of the birth of Jesus from the Bible, with the others listening in silence ... it was actually quite peaceful, and the pupils who read, read well ... I think I'll just have to keep on sending them outside if they talk. Unfortunately most lessons the other classroom is full, and sending them to the referral room means filling in forms etc.

I managed to get home early. H has made a lovely dinner. Also, lots of cards have arrived. Let's hope they keep on coming and don't get lost!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Out for lunch

Well, the teacher with the loudest voice who retired has come back again ... the pupils think this is because the school can't cope without him. So not sure it's the best idea ...!! We'll see.

Left school at lunch today to buy a Secret Santa present. It was so nice being out of school being surrounded by Christmas decorations and Woolworths! Very strange too ... Made it back just in time for my only two classes of the day.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The morning after

It was a lovely evening, with a huge piece of salmon, and lots of stunning looking teachers, and some dancing. We left a bit early, just after 11pm, in order to get home - the dancing had just started, really, and there was due to be another couple of hours of dancing, but we'd had a good time and it was nice to leave and get home at a reasonable hour when public transport was still running - and we've another party tonight, so we have to pace ourselves! Am just up ... and have loads to do!

My to do list for today:

Washing up
Washing clothes
Tidying the house
Marking my Year 7 and Year 10 books
Planning an agenda for Monday's meeting
Reading up on methods and methodolgy and really trying to make a start on my dissertation!
Making Christmas cards

Well, I could go on ... these are just the things that come to mind most quickly! But first of all ... have breakfast!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy anniversary ... and have a nice day!

Happy Anniversary to Mum and Dad! Hope you've had a lovely day!

I have ... just one cover, a Year 10 class with about ten pupils (we had a quite civilised discussion about the reasons for and against women priests), and my A2 class, with only two pupils. A lovely day!

And now we're getting ready to go out to the staff do. Should be interesting ... !

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's over, and we can relax for a bit

Well, the inspector type people have been and gone ... I was interviewed, which was fine, I think, but then my Year 7s and Year 10s were both so awful I was almost in tears before the end of the Year 10 lesson.

However, today that Year 10 class was much calmer ... perhaps because they'd seen that I'd been upset with them and the fact that I'd phoned about five or six parents and was giving some of them an evening detention ... My other classes were okay too, so it's been a much better day.

I am exhausted though! I have to mark three A2 essays tonight, and tomorrow evening we have the Christmas Do, and I've got to decide what to wear.

Also, it's my parents' anniversary tomorrow - happy anniversary if you are reading this tomorrow! - the card is in the post, but may be a bit late ... school franked as well, I expect.

Right. Better clear up then mark those essays!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No time to chat!

Can't stop to chat. Have a mini trial inspection thing tomorrow, so I have to go and bone up on all my facts and figures. Will let you know how it goes!

Monday, December 04, 2006

High Culture

Tomma Abts has just won the Turner Prize. I am almost finished reading "The Heart of a Woman", the fourth book in Maya Angelou's autobiography. I have hassleback potatoes and beef stew cooking in the oven. I have essays on Ayer and Aquinas to mark.

Ah, my life is one of high culture.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

More pictures from London




ABC Favourites ...

Via Today's Lessons. Just in case you wanted to know more about me ...

*A- Favourite Animals: Hippos, elephants - tapirs when I was younger and I suppose they're still quite cute ... I'm not really an animally-type person.
*B- Favourite Bad Habit: (You know, that one that you like too much to even try to break. You like being addicted.) Eating too much
*C- Favourite Cookie: Chocolate chip, I think. Although I'm not *that* fussy!
*D- Favourite Drink: Emmm ... I've always been a bit of a camel ... I like cold water, not from our tap ... I've recently got a thing for Bailey's liquour coffee ... hot chocolate with cream et al.
*E-Favourite Egg Style: It depends on what mood I'm in ... I like scrambled, but don't have them much - mostly have fried or boiled. I enjoyed poached when I had a special poacher pan. Can't do it anymore!
*F- Five Favourite Fiction Books: Very hard! Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Emma; Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses; Jostein Gaarder's The Soltaire Mystery; maybe Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist? So many great books, it's hard to choose five favourites!
*G-Favourite Gadget: My mobile phone that takes pictures.
*H- Favourite Hymn: Great is thy faithfulness ... ?
*I- Favourite Ice Cream: Strawberry. With real strawberries. Luca's!
*J- Favourite Jam: Fluctuates between strawberry and raspberry.
*K-Favourite Kid's Books: I have enjoyed the Harry Potter books. And I would recommend anything by Malorie Blackman.
*L-Favourite Love Song: Celine Dion, "Tell him". Also love "Your Song" by Elton John, which finishes our wedding video.
*M-Favourite Memories: So many! My year in East Africa probably contains the highest proportion ...
*N-Favourite Nonfiction Books: I would need to include H's book that's being published in 2008! But at present ... I've enjoyed reading Maya Angelou's autobiographical series.
*O-Favourite Operatic Song: Quite enjoyed listening to Carmina Burana (sp?) at uni, with my flatmates taking part. Also have a soft spot for Gilbert and Sullivan from long car trips to visit Gran, although I haven't heard any for a while. A Paradox, a paradox, a most ingenious paradox ...
*P-Favourite Piece of Music at the moment: H suggests Bond theme tunes. But I don't think that can be it ...
*Q-Favourite Quiet Spot: At certain times, inside my head, when I can take myself back to some favourite places ... but normally my mind is racing with ideas ...
*R-Favourite Reading when you're sick: Something easy and light. Like the Guardian Saturday magazine.
*S-Favourite Song that you want played at your funeral: Be Still My Soul, music: Finlandia, as played by a full orchestra.
*T-Favourite Task: Task?! A task that can be seen as a favourite?! Emm ... writing memos? Well, I suppose cooking, since I do enjoy that ... no, tasks are not my strong point! (It took me a long time to get my housekeeping badge at Guides!)
*U- Favourite Ugly Animal: (Can you think of a better question for u?) Hippopotamus? But they're not really ugly, just maybe had a bit of a bad press!
*V-Favourite Vintage Book: There's an old book full of children's poems and "illustrated plates" that used to belong to Great Granny that I love. I love the smell of all her old books!
*W-Favourite Writing of C.S Lewis: The Screwtape Letters
*X-Favourite Word That Starts with X, Because The Equuschick Couldn't think of Any But xylophone: The only word I can think of is xenophobia, which I couldn't really say is my favourite word beginning with X!
*Y - Favourite Yellow item: Bananas are okay, but I couldn't say they're that exciting, really. Can you think of a better Y favourite? Because this one was missed out, so I made up the Yellow category, but it's rubbish!
*Z-Favourite Zoo: Edinburgh. Rolling hills, chimpanzees, the Reptile House, baby tigers!

A Day in London - in pictures


We were exploring London today ... I saw the Albert Memorial and the Albert Hall for the first time today. The Albert Hall was smaller than I expected.


The next stop was the Serpentine Gallery, where we visited Damien Hirst's choice of his "murderme" collection. Some of the works I had seen before at Saatchi's Gallery on the South Bank, especially the Sarah Lucas pieces. I particularly liked a collection of bejewelled skulls, which had large false eyes and were very evocative of people, and I spent a long time reading a Sean Landen painting, which was a stream of consciousness over two large canvases.

We were near the Diana Memorial Fountain, so we decided to wander on and have a look. To say I was underwhelmed is to put it mildly. I prefer the more extravagant Albert memorial, maybe with some water spurting out all over the place ... H liked it, though ... he thought its flatness reflected the idea of Diana being down to earth, "the people's princess". I thought it was a bit silly and very boring. However, it does make a nice sound, so maybe it would be relaxing sitting in the middle of the circle of water on a hot, sunny day, reading a good book and only having to listen to the water, not to look at it ... and perhaps paddling now and again.

We then walked back down the road to the Natural History Museum. The open air ice-rink has now been installed - however, it was fully booked, so we had to be content with watching others skating around. Behind the ice rink was a Christmas fair - we warmed our hands with some chestnuts roasting on an open fire ... and wild boar and apple, and pork, venison and mushroom sausages. Delicious!

A short queue, then we were inside the museum. Greeted by a diplodocus, I took charge and said I wanted to see the dinosaurs. I was most excited by seeing the tricerotops and the stegastorus, my favourite dinosaurs as a child, and still, obviously, today!

After a long walk we finally saw Tyrannousarus Rex, in all his roaring glory ... although about a third of his fully grown adult size.


After that, we had a hot chocolate in Waterstone's at Piccadilly, then went to Camden for dinner ... and ended up in an eat all you can for £6 vegetarian Chinese place ... we didn't realise it was vegetarian until we were filling our plates with soya this and soya that ... fortunately it was very flavoursome food, and I was filled up quite quickly.

So, that was our day. The only other interesting comment is that I got my flu jab yesterday. And today my legs and arms have been a bit achey. But maybe that was my heavy bag and all the walking! A good day.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

All in a day's work

A mixed bag type of day. My Year 11s were excellent ... they listened attentively, contributed answers, and told any pupils who started talking to be quiet and listen. Maybe we should discuss contraception and STIs every day ...

My final minutes of the school day involved looking in on another class in the department who had a supply teacher. I'm not sure how you would describe what was happening in the classroom, but you wouldn't call it learning. Some pupils were outside, others were throwing paper balls around, one or two were trying to work, a few more were having conversations. My command to stand was largely ignored, at least until I had shouted at a few of them. Eventually I stood in front of the door until everyone in the class had completed some work - for the final few pupils, after a bit of a tantrum, that eventually resulted in the grand total of about six words. But at least it was something. Think I'll need to pop by a bit more often with that class. There are some quite good pupils in that class, but a few tough ones, and as a group they have a bit of a reputation. The worst ones weren't in the lesson that day ...

Scariest moment of the day was when I was talking to a girl in my form who had been out of lessons in the Referral Room because she'd been fighting another girl. At the end of the day I asked her about the incident. Six girls had attacked another girl. Had she thought about what she had done? Yes. And what did she think now? She'd do the same thing again. Well, that scared me. That she still thought it was okay for seven girls to attack one girl over alleged name calling, the names probably being as a retaliation to previous bullying. I thought of the recent murder, in the news a lot at the moment, of Tom Ap Rhys Jones. That the two boys seemed to mug people for fun. Where is the line between one and the other? I hope there is a line, and that she will not cross it. But her attitude at the moment scares me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Another day ...

I've sent out a few letters today inviting a number of year 7 parents to their child's detention next week. We'll see if that makes any difference to their behaviour ...

Had a good meeting tonight looking at Performance Management but also the difference between leadership and management. I need to try and think of my vision for the (read 'my' in the future ...) department. When I do, I should post it on here ...

Had an early night last night, but have managed to stay up later tonight. Accidentally.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Year 7 headache

Any suggestions as to what to do with my Year 7s?! I had them lined up outside for about 15 minutes ... all they needed to do was to stand in a line, facing the front, without talking, and we would go in. Is that really too much for an eleven or twelve year old to grasp? Really? We went inside, and spent another ten or so minutes waiting for silence so we could read the text. Then most managed to just about start the task before the bell went. And everyone had gone by about 15 minutes after the bell went ... it's hard to keep them for much longer without their parents' knowledge after school.

I'm thinking of inviting all their parents along to school next Tuesday for a whole class meeting, and to draw up a class charter. However, I'm sure the parents of the generally good ones would make the effort to turn up, and the ones whose sons and daughters contribute most to the lack of progress in the class would not be able to come.

I waited for 20 minutes at the end of the day for two parents to come in for a meeting to discuss their children's progress, but to no avail. So it would probably be similar. Ah well.

The Head of Year has been to see them, Assistant Heads have spoken to them, the Head has been in at the start of lessons with them ... and I've never seen another class like it!!!

Ah well, Malcolm in the Middle is on and H is bringing back some Chinese Duck, so all is right with the world!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Winter cleaning

I had a tidying up day today. The office is now looking a bit neater than yesterday, and the classrooms are a bit cleaner looking. Shame that the Year 11s weren't as neat and tidy about their work!

The phone lines were down all day today. Have a few calls to make tomorrow ...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Hailstorm!


I got caught in a hailstorm on the way to Church this morning. It only lasted a couple of minutes, but I got soaked!

Obsessed by Bond

(The blog help has guided me to images that are licensed to freely share, or something. Not the biggest choice, but I wanted to illustrate this post!)

Just thought I ought to admit to being a bit obsessed by all things Bond at the moment. As you know, I saw the film last week, finished the book this morning, have spent the day watching Bond podcasts and listening to 30 second preview clips of all the Bond theme tunes. And even though I wasn't totally enamoured with "You know my name" as the title song, I've just been watching the video and learning the lyrics. Well, reading them ... learning might be taking it a bit too far. Would love to go again. Have also been reading the reviews. On the rottentomatoes.com site there are about 139 positive reviews to 9 negative ones (don't worry, I didn't count, they work out the statistics on the front page). And I'm still waiting for someone else to go and see the film so I can compare notes with someone else other than H, who is now saying how boring the plot was and how he can't remember it. So I told it all back to him, pausing now and again to make sure I wasn't embellishing it with incidents from the book. So would anyone out there like to go and see it again with me?!

At least I managed to get up to date with marking all the books of the pupils who were foolish enough to forget to take their books home with them to complete their homework. Which unfortunately for them is rather a lot, but fortunately for me not too many.

I still have a methodology and methods report to write though. Maybe tomorrow ...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Things I've Done

From Amy Loves Books, from Today's Lessons, from Quiet Life (these things go round on blogs, people see a good idea, look at the original, are more inspired, copy it and perhaps inspire others ...)

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (and survived the crush afterwards)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse (of the moon ...)
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk.
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe.
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. (Missing?)
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild (bought ones though)
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Well, I make that 48 things out of 150 ... how did you do?

The end of another week

I've just finished reading Casino Royale, and am about to get some marking done. It's been a relatively relaxed week this week at school. We were discussing contraception in Year 11 yesterday, and they were remarkably sensible about it, considering the group. The other Year 11 class, that was very badly behaved last time I saw them, all apologised (not necessarily too convincingly, or meaningfully, but at least it was a recognition that their behaviour had not been accceptable last time, and they could all see that others in the class had had their parents contacted about their behaviour). And most then worked quite quietly through the work on the sanctity of life.

Right. Better get some work done!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Surprisingly subdued

My Year 10 classes were surprisingly subdued today. Not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but for the majority of the lesson the majority of the pupils were listening sensibly and on-task.

In fact, since the Year 11s were sitting an exam elsewhere, and my other class was A Level, it's been quite a nice day.

We're celebrating H's birthday tonight with lamb shanks and roast potatoes. I've never cooked lamb shank before, so I hope I can get it to be tender and tasty like the lamb shank we get in restaurants, rather than being tough and terrible.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Funding!

Have learnt today that my application for a bursary has been accepted! So my uni fees will be paid, and I'll now need to organise a markers' course for my year 11s. It's quite exciting, but also a bit of a wake up call - it will be expected that my research will have academic results, so I have more pressure on that class to do well now. Their target grades at the moment are lower than they should be capable of achieving, according to their SATs results; I hope that most will get Cs, although it will be more than a surprise if they do, it'll be a minor miracle. Still, miracles do happen.

A few of the members of that class are owe me an apology following their behaviour in the last lesson. I saw one boy yesterday, and he told me that no-one is going to apologise. It'll be a nice quiet lesson then. I've arranged for the on-call teacher to come and have a conversation with me while the pupils arrive, so that if any do refuse to apologise, she'll be able to take them away immediately. But also, it might encourage them to apologise. We'll see ... anyway, hope we can get back on track so my research runs smoothly this year!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Muslim prayer

A tiring day today, which is a surprise since I didn't have too much teaching to do, and I wasn't up that late last night. Told the sixth formers the story of Clementine and Boater, during which one pointed out, "Miss, you should be in Eastenders!" Think it could have been over-dramatised ...

I think my year 7 lesson, on Muslim prayer, would have worked well if my class had been quieter (and had minimal listening skills). I got them to all stand up, and then say how they felt, and who they would stand like this for. We went through some of the prayer stances, including kneeling and bowing; pupils were often quick to point out "We do this in church!" and "This is how we stand when the Headmaster enters", before I showed them pictures of Muslims at prayer. We would then have looked at the differences and similarities of Muslim and Catholic prayer, if the bell hadn't gone, indicating the start of their detention. I will use this lesson again - it was very kinaesthetic, which the pupils liked, and it takes away some of the strangeness of Muslim prayer that pupils might have if they just looked at the pictures.

Had a late meeting, unfortunately, at school. I'd forgotten about it and was late - I think I missed the most important and interesting part. An important meeting, just annoying that it went on for at least 45 minutes later than planned. I was lucky that by the time I left school, the rush hour traffic had dispersed.

Monday, November 20, 2006

These boots were made for walking ...

Saturday is more interesting than today ... we went shopping along Oxford Street and I got some new boots. Very exciting, since I couldn't find any that fitted over my calves last year!

Anyway, today I'm tired and have had some lousy lessons. Probably because I'm tired! Anyway, my year 10s ended up doing posters and I got some lucid and accurate work out of a girl who never normally does much, so that was good.

Learnt that another friend has just had a baby and moved house. So that's three new babies in the past month or so ... November is going to be a busy birthday month next year!

It's almost 9pm, so I'm off to bed now.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Casino Royale

We went to see James Bond last night. I enjoyed it. I'm going to post a few comments/reflections here - I hope this doesn't spoil your own enjoyment of the film if you haven't seen it yet! (And I definitely recommend seeing it.)

There were about five different allusions to different forms of gambling in the opening five minutes or so (a pinball machine that reminded me of fruit machines, putting money on the outcome of snake/mongoose fight, a game of cards, the stockmarket, and something else, possibly another reference to cards). So the scene was set.

I wasn't too taken by the music ("Remember my name" or something like that), but I did quite like the graphics for the opening sequence. I'd already read that there were no women in the sequence, apparently the first Bond film not to feature Bond girls in that opening credits, so I wasn't surprised by that; instead there were quite seventies-like drawings with the suits of cards being shot out of guns etc. Quite stylish, I thought.

One thing I noticed more than before was quite a lot of product name-dropping, which was especially noticable in the light of pre-Casino Royale advertising. For example, there is a scene where Vesper Lynd asks James Bond about his watch. "Is it a Rolex?" "No, it's an Omega," he answers, and you know he's about to say that because you've seen the Omega advert quite a bit beforehand. Bond doesn't ask for a martini - instead he asks for "two shots of Gordons", one of tonic, this and that and a slice of lemon. Or whatever makes up a martini. He specifies the champagne (although I can't remember what it was, not being a connoisseur of champagne), and of course there is the Aston Martin.

Well, what about Daniel Craig as Bond? I was convinced. Not only because of the long, lingering shots of Bond as he emerges from the sea, Ursula Andress-like, I should point out! He has a good mix of seriousness and lightness, his humour is witty, not too obvious, or too often, he is very physical - lots of running, jumping, chasing, falling, climbing, as well as fighting and killing. The torture scene is very physical too. The first chase scene, on foot, is very well done - although perhaps a bit too much like a Playstation game! I can see it working very well with a joystick.

H thought that Daniel Craig is so good he should get an Oscar; he also thought that this Bond was quite a "masculine" Bond, in that there are few women and few sex scenes; however, I pointed out that the long close up shots of Bond smouldering might be said to make this a more woman-friendly Bond, with the female viewers definitely in mind! The one weakness is perhaps the relationship between James and Vesper, which is strong in some scenes and not so in others. One good scene takes place as they both sit in the shower.

Finally, I was surprised to see Richard Branson very briefly - he was blurred, walking through airport security, over Bond's shoulder, and I whispered to H, "Look, it's Richard Branson!", but by then he was long gone. Thought I might have imagined it - however, afterwards, H said he'd read that Branson had a part as an extra, so I'm pretty sure, with that beard and hair, that I saw him. Which leads me to reflect on what part H might have had if he'd gone along as an extra when he had the opportunity during the summer. One of those sitting round in a tux watching the Baccarat game, perhaps? We'll never know ...

Hope you go and see Casino Royale, hope you enjoy it, hope you post your comments about what you thought!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Nocturnal annoyances

I've been away on a two day conference for Heads of Department. It was really interesting - I learnt a lot about the different exam boards, funding, and the new 14-19 curriculum. It was great meeting other people and being able to share ideas with them.

I woke up around 5.15am and decided to get up. Thought to myself that I didn't want to get locked out, so, feeling very pleased with myself for remembering, I picked up my key. As I pulled the door closed and it clicked, I looked in my hand - and saw, not my key, but my hair clasp!

I couldn't find anyone to let me back in my room, so I spent the next couple of hours sleeping on a cushion on a bench, with my cardigan wrapped around my head to block out the light (I'd fortunately put it on in order to keep myself more covered up - I hadn't taken my dressing gown with me). At around 7.15am I headed to the dining room, where they were getting ready for breakfast. The dinner lady gave me some coffee and cereal while I waited for the man with the keys to arrive.

Shame - it was actually quite a comfy bed and I'd been sleeping well before I woke up!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Observations - what's the point?

Was on a course tonight, where we thought about observations. Very interesting, actually. Ofsted want to know what the learners are learning, and how we know that they are learning, and how we know what they are learning.

New teaching idea for me ... read out a piece of writing, from which pupils have to memorise then write down five key words. In pairs, therefore with up to ten words, pupils then try to write down what was read to them as accurately as possible. They can then compare their ideas to the original. Practice for note taking, summarising, prioritising, listening and recounting. I think. Must try this out, maybe next week ... Jumbled sentences are still the teaching tip of the week though!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bonkers

I've decided my Year 7s are just plain bonkers. At one point I had about five pupils in the room - that was all - and they were *still* bouncing off the walls! When the rest of them arrived, we all had to go and line up in the rain for about five minutes. "When you are all silent and facing the front, then we'll go in." I thought it was easy to understand ... I didn't even ask them all to be silent for five minutes, or ten, or fifty - just to be silent. They're not too good at silence. Individually, some very nice pupils, and a lot are enthusiastic and friendly personalities. But not necessarily conducive to learning ... At least we managed to get to the end of the lesson this time. And only about five minutes or so after the bell went at the end of the day.

One more teaching day, then I'm on a two day conference. Hurray!

Monday, November 13, 2006

School Meeting

Bad Boy Bingo!

Well, it wasn't quite called that, but it was an interesting exercise. Write down some of the most difficult pupils, think of reasons why, then see who has the same names, and which pupils have support in place. Revealing. Didn't manage to get a full house ...

Actually, I found it really hard to come up with five really difficult pupils. Not because there were more than that! But instead, most of my pupils, looking at them individually, are actually quite nice, friendly, interesting people. It's just that, as a group ... !!!

Overheard ...

... on the tube.

A man with a large rucksack sat down beside me, and next to another woman. I was engrossed in "Casino Royale". He turned to the other woman and started telling her something. I thought they must have known each other, although there hadn't been any sort of greeting when he sat down.

Then she said, "How do you know that?"

"I was told by British Intelligence. That's absolutely true."

Hmmm. Had he been inspired subconsciously by my choice of reading material? Don't think MI5 would be involving someone who blabbed quite so indiscriminately!

Pause.

"The country is full of facist agents. It's despicable."

Quite. And at that, H and I reached our stop.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Going to Uni

I'm just posting a quick blog before I leave for church.

I had been asked to give a short presentation about my research last year to a group of Masters students - it seemed that they would be first years, about to embark on their first piece of research. However, when I got there, some of them were doing their dissertation, like me, and most seemed to have already completed some research! Never mind, I did my presentation anyway, and the rest of the day was about research and writing reports and it was very useful.

Leaving the building, I passed a large and lovely autumnal tree.

In the evening, we visted friends that I've not seen in years (H sometimes meets up with them during the day). Hopefully the visit will be reciprocated for H's birthday. It was a nice evening out, although we were a bit late home and I'm now quite tired!

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's the weekend!

My own experience of today was mostly good; I don't think that was the same for everybody. We had intruders on site during the day, although I never saw or heard anything until later on.

My first year 11 class went really well - the same lesson as yesterday, different class. The pupils really seem to enjoy the jumbled sentences race! I noticed that the EAL speakers did particularly well at trying to work out combinations of words. I tried to reinforce structure and grammar - "ghostly" is an adjective, so what noun must it be describing? etc. Maybe not the best selection of visuals - quite a difficult concept, the paranormal - but hopefully most of them will have some idea now of how non-religious people could still believe in life after death.

My year 10 class was okay, but then my other year 11 class - the ones I had yesterday - were appalling. One girl sat on the floor chewing gum and playing with it. Eventually sent her out. However, the others were in a strange mood too, so quite a few will have letters home.

I was a bit worried when I heard I had a year 11 cover in the afternoon, but there were only 5 pupils so it was quite relaxing. The pupils had to revise electricity, so I told them the little mnemonics and stories that I learnt in Guides about how to wire a plug (you plant bulbs in the *earth*, then green and yellow daffodils grow *up*, straight and tall ... bLue to the Left, bRown to the Right ... lIve to the rIght ... Fun.

My A2 group and I had a discussion about the conscience. How is it formed?

Drive home took 2 hours. Terrible traffic. At least then it was dry ... we had a lovely meal out, with aromatic duck pancakes, and then walked back in the rain. Nice though. A good walk.

Right. I'm off to sleep now. Uni beckons tomorrow!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Danish pastries ...

I've been really tired recently when arriving home, so no posts ... lots of fireworks at (or around) school. All the pupils had assemblies yesterday. Seemed a bit calmer today. We're all getting pastries tomorrow, just because it's been a tough week. Doesn't make it all go away, or get easier, but a nice gesture, nonetheless.

I know why I had a nice day today ... I had a good lesson with my year 11s. They had some jumbled up sentences, and there was a race to see who could work them out and copy them down most quickly. Some of them got quite competitive! Maltesers for the winning team ... Quite simple to prepare, but fairly effective and enjoyable.

I was at uni last night. We had a lecture on Methodology. Helpful ... doesn't seem quite so difficult now!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pupils! Huh!

At least the day started well. I observed our NQT and she taught a really interesting lesson to a low ability class, using a wide range of teaching and learning strategies to motivate the pupils. They were really enthusiastic in the lesson and learnt quite a lot.

It's a shame the day had to go downhill with my classes! My year 11 group decided that it would rather make silly noises rather than follow my interesting and varied lesson plan that I was so pleased with last night. My year 7s - well, there are not enough desks for them now, never mind chairs and books, so I suppose it's not surprising that I was being constantly attacked on all sides by little people asking for this, that or the other now! now! now! Aaaargh! It took my Year 10s about 15 minutes to begin to settle ... most managed to complete copying out the key words, although with very little input from me because of their poor listening skills, and I only sent one pupil to our school pupil referral unit, and eventually when the bell went, they were quiet enough for about 10 mins for me to read a section of the book and make sure they should have learnt at least one point about the Church. Still loads to do. It makes me feel like pulling my hair out sometimes. It's so frustrating, planning interesting, fun, focused, learning objectives-led lessons, that end up boiling down to "copy that page into your book" just to try and get some order in the classroom. Order, that is, rather than learning. Frustrating.

We also had a year group meeting. That was interesting, since we looked at some pupil support plans. There is a lot of support put in place for many pupils; often the teachers aren't even aware of what support the pupil is receiving, since they can receive it from so many different places. And yet still the pupils sometimes can be so difficult .... !

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Remember, remember ...

... the fifth of November.

How could we forget, when we're surrounded by such beautiful displays? All night, my large window in front of the computer has had sparkling red, gold, green explosions, halos, circles, rockets, fireballs, whizz-bangs, pop-pops, wheeeeeeeeeees and all sorts of other displays. I can hear them all in surround sound, too. Wish I could be bothered to get up and take some photos, but it seems a bit too much like hard work and I keep thinking that if I look for the camera they'll all stop!

Beliefs in Life after Death

Here is my lesson plan for my Year 11 next week.

Starter - Guess the aim of the lesson/"Shark". A variation on hangman - the words of the aim (Explain why non-religious people might believe in life after death) will be marked with lines (instead of letters): _______ ___ ___-_________ ______ _____ _______ __ ____ _____ _____ Pupils will have to guess what words they think will be in the aim (they will be told it is an exam question, so should be able to guess words like "outline", "explain" and "agree"). If they are correct, the word will be filled in the correct space. If not, normally this would mean the addition of a piece of body on the gallows, but this will be a more kinaesthetic version, so instead a volunteer will take a step from the wall towards my desk. If he or she reaches my desk then they have fallen off the cliff and are eaten by sharks, and I win. If the class guesses the word before the victim reaches the desk, the class will have won (and will know the aim of the lesson).

Input - Three pictures will be shown, one at a time. I think they will be of a seance, a person looking in a crystal ball, and an image representing a Near Death Experience. Perhaps also a ghost. In pairs, the pupils will talk about each image. They will answer the questions, "What is happening?", "Why might this encourage a non-religious person to believe in life after death?" and "How might a Christian respond to this image?" (and perhaps also, "What might a scientist say about this phenomenon?") After we have discussed the pictures, there will be some feedback, and I will share a couple of Biblical quotes that warn against communicating with dead.

Demonstrate - Pupils will have to answer the exam question shared at the beginning of the lesson. However, to help them, they will first of all have to unjumble some sentences which will form the first half of the exam answer.

Plenary - Once the questions are unjumbled, pupils will need to write a further two points using PEE (point, evidence, explanation) explaining why some non-religious people believe in life after death. We could then have the answers read out.

So, there you go. A lesson on beliefs in life after death and the paranormal. Who knows, I might even mention my UFO encounter!

Thai and friends

H and I had a lovely time last night, out for dinner with some of my uni friends. At a Mexican bar I had a delicious Bailey's Daiquiri, then we moved on to a Thai Restaurant. The last time I remember having Thai was when we got engaged, and ordering a Green Thai Salad almost blew my head off. This time I had delicious coconut rice with a red duck curry that had a beautifully aromatic and tasty sauce. Very creamy. The only down side was when I ate a green leaf that I thought was harmless, that burnt the back of my palate, and had me reaching for the jug of water. Shame there wasn't one ... Finished off with a Bailey's liquour coffee ... I almost didn't have one, because I thought it was an Irish Coffee, which I ordered once and didn't really enjoy - however, last night one of my friends told me that an Irish Coffee was made with whisky (or rather whiskey, being Irish), not Bailey's Irish Cream, which is what I had expected. A Bailey's coffee, however, is very nice!

So, great company, great food, great drink, altogether a very pleasant night out.

Makes a change from marking!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Curriculum Evening

It was another late night last night. My form, and the rest of their year group, had a parents' curriculum evening last night, where the parents were given a presentation about what we are focussing on in their year, and the strategies that the school is using to support the pupils. There were about 70 pupils there, and their parents, so the hall was full, although that only represents about one third of the pupils.

I was able to talk to a handful of parents, finding out their concerns and making lists of things to follow up with other members of staff. It was nice to recognise so many parents; being able to greet them and talk about the progress their son or daughter is making is quite gratifying.

It was a late night on top of another busy day, though, and today was equally non stop. (I had to leave straightaway at the end of the day with a pressure headache - however, after a painkiller and a short sleep, I'm feeling well enough to post an entry on here.)

One of the best bits about yesterday, though, was a conversation I had with one of my colleagues. We were talking about career development and the many options that are open to teachers in terms of working outside the classroom a bit more but still in school. We're thinking of trying to start up a voluntary cross curricular teaching and learning group ... I spoke to the relevant Assistant Head last night, and he's keen, but we'll have to chat about it more. I'm going to try and come up with a proposal or something ... watch this space!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Conference


Drove to the East Midlands last night, with another colleague from another school in the LEA, to take part in a conference looking at the Black Pupils' Achievement Project. A fine drive - we talked non-stop - and we arrived just in time for a delicious dinner: sundried tomatoes and artichoke salad, cannon of lamb with fondant potatoes, caramelised betroot and fresh veg with a jus d'orange, chocolate brownie with banana ice cream, and coffee with tablet and mini chocolate fondant filled meringues. Delicious! We had time to briefly run through our presentation, then I sat up chatting until 1am with the leader of our project and presentation and a friend of hers.

We were first on this morning, and I was glad of a tasty, filling and not too greasy cooked breakfast beforehand. The presentation, which included a couple of models of teaching methods ("articulate" and visuals/oracy/questions model), was well received. There were three main parts - an overview and explanation of the course, given by the course leader, leading the conference in an interactive activity modelling the teaching idea, "articulate", led by my colleague, and my brief presentation of my research, explaining how the course leads into working on a Masters. I had to rush my section, unfortunately, because the first two sections went on a bit too long! However, I managed to demonstrate one effective strategy, and a couple of people afterwards said that it was helpful and they are going to use it.

Good discussions afterwards about the BPAP strategy in our individual schools. Very interesting to hear what other schools are doing. I think it would be good if we could start a teaching and learning group at our school, with members of each department, so ideas and strategies could be shared with all members of staff on a subject-specific basis, although still with a cross-curricular emphasis (eg on literacy, or BPAP).

Another issue that was raised is the paucity of good, relevant images on the web of black people, and other ethnic minorities, for example in Catholic churches. There are images of black people in Pentecostal churches, for example, but very few in Catholic churches. Someone suggested that I write to parents to see if they have photos they would be willing for us to use in lessons, so that our visuals could become more representative of the communities that our pupils come from. I'm planning on following that up.

Right. I think I'll head to bed and get some rest before tomorrow - when I have a parents' evening with my form!

UFO Sighting!

Is it a falling star? Is it a comet? Is it a firework? Is it ball lightning? Is it an alien lifeform?

As we were driving back from the East Midlands on the motorway, I suddenly saw a ball of fire, bigger than a tennis ball but smaller than a football, with a firey tale, falling from the sky onto the road in front of us. H saw it too, just before it disappeared or burnt out. When I first saw it my first thought was of a firework, but it was big, and seemed to move more slowly. I slowed, ready to swerve, imagining that it might impact in the road or fall on the car. It didn't, and we looked for any other strange unidentified flying objects, but saw nothing.

A curious incident indeed.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Back to school!

I'm allowed to go to the Conference! So that's Tuesday night and Wednesday sorted ... although I must remember to leave the worl for Wednesday's classes!

It's funny how you can have loads of time to prepare and yet you still end up rushing just before your lesson ... It was an early start, getting up at 6am again ... I had woken up a few times in the night, but had managed to rest and not get up, so I was fine at school. Got a bit tired towards the end of the day though ... anyway, I had two non-contacts this morning, and did some filing and a few admin bits and pieces. Should have marked the year 10 tests though ... After assembly (which went well, I thought ... it was about fireworks, reminding pupils that it is now illegal to have them, and that they will be arrested and permanently excluded if they are found with fireworks ... lots of gory stories about fireworks getting caught in people's wrists and exploding ...), it was time for my duty. Fortunately the upper corridor was quiet, so I was able to nab my line manager and plan a meeting later this week. I then rushed to my room to try and set up the lesson ... and I couldn't switch the computer on!

Well, I tried four times before desperately calling for one of the technicians. When he arrived, I said, "Look, this is what's it's doing," clicked the button again ... and, lo and behold, it started working! Felt like a bit of an idiot! Anyway, good to have it working again. So I set up the lesson ... and watched it all fall apart around me as the class arrived.

Ties not on, shirts not tucked in, hats and jackets on and not being removed, trainers, never mind the lack of blazers. I spent a good few minutes trying to tidy them up before we started. One pupil who has been absent recently was in, on an attendance report. Good that he was punctual ... shame about the behaviour. It affected a couple of others, and the lesson ended up boring me because I spent half of it trying to stop three pupils telling each other stories about Borat.

Before lunch I had a fairly productive meeting with our NQT. She is really impressing me with her determination and the fact that she'll try lots of different teaching methods to motivate the pupils. I'm going to observe her next week.

Lunch - a cupasoup - was followed by a short voluntary departmental meeting - really to plan what we'll get for the baby! Flowers, a card, and perhaps a small gift?

My year 7s wouldn't be quiet. There are a few of them that just won't stop ... I had a couple of moments of peace during the lesson. All they had to do was copy out the key words, but some of them were talking and messing around, and whenever I changed the word, they started complaining - hardly realising that if they copied, and got their heads down, they would manage to keep up. But that would require them to stop talking for a moment or two ...

Year 10s were doing their end of unit assessment. Weren't too happy to have that on their first week back ... Eventually had to send one girl to the Sanctuary who was incredibly rude. I can't remember why now! I think I asked her to remove her jacket ...

Straight from the lesson to a Head of Department meeting ... boring! ... and then off to a meeting with the Chief Consultant who has invited me to take part in the presentation. We've planned what we're going to do on Wednesday now.

I've now got to go and write a reference letter, phone another colleague at another school whom I am driving north tomorrow, mark two sets of assessments, make sure I have the work left for Wednesday, and check my emails. And pack. Just as well we've already had our pot noodle and chicken!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

End of the holidays ...

I've done it! I've finished marking the five sets of exercise books that I brought home! And it's only 9.15pm ... I still have a set of exam questions to complete, but I should have time to do that some time tomorrow, since I see the class on Tuesday.

I had tears in my eyes this morning at church. A couple had a blessing at the end of the service to mark their golden wedding anniversary. They made short, and sweet vows, and had a blessing, and we all applauded.

Later, I went to visit one of my friends who had a baby this week. Her daughter is so sweet, so perfect! I held her for a little while, and it was so relaxing, just sitting holding her and looking at her. I'm glad I was able to see her before returning to work!

Since then, I've had a relaxing day at home, reading the papers, sleeping, watching Alice in Wonderland, and "Reader, I Married Him", a BBC 4 documentary about romantic fiction. We only saw the end of it, so saw a bit about Jane Eyre, then they gradually looked at more modern books, which are perhaps more my sister's area of interest rather than mine ... Sophie Kinsella, Bridget Jones and the like.

Can hardly believe I have to go back to school tomorrow though! I must go and save all my powerpoints onto my memory stick so I can use them tomorrow ... Wonder what next week will bring?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's Saturday.

It's definitely a Saturday! And other than thinking a little about my dissertation ("A critical investigation and action research into the effectiveness of Assessment for Learning strategies, in particular peer and self assessment, at raising attainment in Religious Studies at GCSE level"), I have not thought about school or school work today.

I slept in again (how am I going to manage to get up for work on Monday, or even for church on Sunday?!), and, on discovering that we'd finished most of the food in the house, we decided that we had better go shopping. So off we went. And when I got back, I decided to cook beef stew. Three hours later ... a delicious stew with crunchy roast potatoes and a bit over done green beans. Tasty!

Since then I have read the paper, slept, and we are now watching Madame Bovary. Again. In French.

I do feel a little guilty. I do still have a few things left to do on my to-do list. A bit of marking. Planning for my A-level students. And I haven't visited my friend with the new baby yet, and I have to make a card for another friend whom I learnt yesterday has also had her first child.

Still, it's the holidays, and it's nice to be at home!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wandering ...


I went outside today!

H and I (H being my Husband ... thought it would be quicker from now on!) went out in the morning. Had a delicious hazelnut flavoured hot chocolate in Borders with a tasty mozzarella, sun dried tomato and olive panini - yum! H had a coffee (unusual!) but was supposed to be meeting someone later for lunch. I was planning on visiting the Library later.

However, just before I got on public transport, I got a call from H's friend who was having difficulty contacting to him, to say she couldn't make it. So I ended up going out for lunch too! Rice, lamb with spinach and aubergines with yoghurt. A bit spicy, and since I'd already eaten I filled up very quickly, but it was very tasty, and quite unusual.

We wandered along the road via Waterstone's (no copies of "Where the Wild Things Are" - apparently someone had pulled pages out of all their copies, which was a bit annoying) and the postbox (so my grandparents' anniversary card will arrive, although perhaps later than expected...) back to the tube.

From there we made our way to an art shop, where we wandered around and were inspired, and then walked along the road to the next tube station. As we walked, I heard a vaguely familiar sound ... the sound of the call to prayer. I knew there was a mosque near by, but I couldn't see a minaret, so I was fallowing the sound, and eventually we saw some loudspeakers on either side of the main doors into the mosque. An interesting and unusual sound in this part of the world. Well, not as unusual where we were, I'm sure!

It's been nice being out. Must do it more often! Thought I'd post a mobile "snap" to add a bit of glamour to today's post!

The other interesting news is that Alan Johnson has agreed to drop the necessity for faith schools to accept 25% of pupils from a different faith or none. I think this means the Catholic Church has managed to motivate the masses at Mass into messaging the minister.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Getting on with the marking ...

I slept in again ... today I have marked four sets of books, thought some more about my dissertation, learnt that we used to live in one of the worst areas to live and now live in an area that was even nearer the top of the bad areas to live in the UK!, made some more delicious stovies, and have begun to read "The Puzzle of Ethics" which I think will be much more accessible for my A-Level students than the book I've been using at the moment.

Funnily, I don't feel that I've done school work all day today, but since I've been doing that since dinner, I can't really remember what else I've done! Humdrum stuff anyway, like washing the shower curtain. We're going out tomorrow though!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dissertation

I've spent much of the day visiting a collague from university who is also going to be completing her dissertation this year. It was good to have a chat about the different ideas we have, and to be able to swap ideas and suggestions. I think I may research the benefits of using peer and self assessment with KS4 (GCSE) pupils, in order to raise attainment. I teach two year 11 classes, one of which mostly contains pupils I taught last year, and the other is a more mixed group. They all sat the first GCSE paper last year, so I would have quite a lot of quantitative data to compare. I could focus on my borderline C/D students - at least 4 pupils were only 2 marks off a C in the last paper, so should manage to get a C overall this year. I now need to write up this Proposal and get it to my supervisor by the end of the month.

Other than that, I read a bit from "The Puzzle of Evil" this morning, which was explaining the St Thomas Aquinas' viewpoint from his Summa Theologiae ... I'm writing that to try and fix it in my mind more than anything else! I've had another look at that official document I finished the other day, and now I'm cooking chicken casserole, rice and veg. And then I think I'm ready for an early night!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fireworks ... Eid Mubarak!

You can tell this is a more Muslim than Hindu area, I think ... there are some beautiful fireworks sparkling in the night sky tonight, marking Eid ul-Fitr, I presume - it was quite quiet a couple of nights back when it was Diwali. Any displays seemed further away. But happy Diwali, too, for any Hindu readers!

Baking Biscuits

The smell is so overwhelming, I have decided that I must write about it. I think one of my neighbours is baking biscuits. There is an amazing smell in the room that is making me hungry. It reminds me of the drive to Granny's, passing the biscuit factory on a baking day. Yum! (Now, I wonder ... is it too late to return the chairs and plate that we borrowed at our last party ...!!?!)

Reading, writing and form filling (again!)

Almost 10pm. It feels just now like it's been a busy sort of day, but until a couple of hours ago it didn't feel like that at all! I enjoyed a lazy morning, eating breakfast in bed while finishing off "Rebecca's Tale" by Sally Beauman - by 'finishing off', I mean that I read about three quarters of it this morning! So it was about lunchtime when I got up. Feels like a Saturday!

Since then I've pottered around on the internet again, replying to comments made on this site and trying to outline the books I've read from the "1001 Books to read ..." list on my other website (www.louisaslibrary.blogspot.com). And for the past couple of hours or so I've been completing some school admin - a document that needed to be completed, in lot of detail. So some of the more boring stuff on my list has been done!

My to-do list now looks like this:

1. Marking - 5 sets of books, one set of exam papers
2. Read up and prepare for Year 12/Year 13 lessons
3. Plan lessons/ppts for Years 10 and 11
4. Complete planning ppt/talk for uni presentation and school presentation (in case I'm allowed to go...)
5. Try to hone the proposal for my Dissertation
6. Shopping (well, this will be a continual one, won't it!)

I've almost completed the powerpoints for Year 10, so I think tomorrow I might try and do that and make an impact on the marking. Glad I've still a few days left. I hope to visit the British Library at some point as well. I think that all this sitting at a computer is not the best thing for my back!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Truly the holidays

What a lovely day. I have tidied a bit, read a bit, listened to some music, planned a few year 10 lessons, cooked dinner, watched Madame Bovary, learnt that a friend has had a baby (and am waiting for another couple to be born in the next few months ...) and added some posts about books to my attached blog (Louisa's Library). Very relaxing!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

This Week's To Do List

Thought I'd share my to-do list with you (whoever "you" are .... Mum/Dad/sister/husband/random passerby?) before I go to church.

1. Marking - 5 sets of books, one set of exam papers
2. Read up and prepare for Year 12/Year 13 lessons
3. Plan lessons/ppts for Years 7, 10 and 11
4. Complete other school admin
5. Tidy house
6. Laundry
7. Plan ppt/talk for uni presentation and school presentation (in case I'm allowed to go...)
8. Try to come up with a proposal for my Dissertation
9. Shopping

If I leave now I'll be able to get No. 6 underway.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

First Day of the Holidays

What do teachers do when they're on holiday?

Well, I have to admit that as for today ... not much! I have browsed the internet - not really learning much, I'm afraid to say - I have done some of the dishes, but not all, and have cooked a delicious beef stew. And all of that has used up 7 hours of my day. (Oh yes, I had a lie in first of all!)

I haven't even managed to read a book.

Although I did read the Guardian's Weekend magazine ... does that count?

Friday, October 20, 2006

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

This is more for me, out of curiosity ... the books that I have read from this list. I'm quite pleased that I have read so many ... wonder how long it will be before I've made it 10%? And can you see the author that inspired my pen name when I was a little girl? (Or a little woman, perhaps?)

1. Aesop’s Fables (Aesopus)
2. Metamorphoses (Ovid)
3. Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe)
4. Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift)
5. A Modest Proposal (Jonathan Swift)
6. The Castle of Otranto (Horace Walpole)
7. The Mysteries of Udolpho (Ann Radcliffe)
8. The Monk (M.G. Lewis)
9. Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen)
10. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
11. Mansfield Park (Jane Austen)
12. Emma (Jane Austen)
13. Persuasion (Jane Austen)
14. Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen)
15. Frankenstein (Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley)
16. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (James Hogg)
17. The Fall of the House of Usher (Edgar Allan Poe)
18. A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
19. The Pit and the Pendulum (Edgar Allan Poe)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
22. Moby-Dick (Herman Melville)
23. A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
24. The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins)
25. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
26. Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Jules Verne)
27. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
28. The Moonstone (Wilkie Collins)
29. Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There (Lewis Carroll)
30. Around the World in Eighty Days (Jules Verne)
31. Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy)
32. Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson)
33. The Strange Case of Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson)
34. The Picture of Dorien Gray (Oscar Wilde)
35. Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy)
36. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
37. Dracula (Bram Stoker)
38. The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
39. Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
40. The Thirty-Nine Steps (John Buchan)
41. The Rainbow (D.H. Lawrence)
42. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce)
43. The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
44. Lady Chatterley’s Lover (D.H. Lawrence)
45. Orlando (Virginia Woolf)
46. All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque)
47. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
48. A Scot’s Quair (Sunset Song) (Lewis Grassic Gibbon)
49. Absalom, Absalom (William Faulkner)
50. Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
51. Brighton Rock (Graham Greene)
52. Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)
53. The Power and the Glory (Graham Greene)
54. Animal Farm (George Orwell)
55. If This Is a Man (Primo Levi)
56. The Heart of the Matter (Graham Greene)
57. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell)
58. The End of the Affair (Graham Greene)
59. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
60. Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
61. The Quiet American (Graham Greene)
62. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe)
63. A Town Like Alice (Nevil Shute)
64. Billy Liar (Keith Waterhouse)
65. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
66. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark)
67. Arrow of God (Chinua Achebe)
68. The River Between (Ngugi wa Thiong’o)
69. The Magus (John Fowles)
70. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
71. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
72. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
73. The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco)
74. Rites of Passage (William Golding)
75. A Pale View of Hills (Kazuo Ishiguro)
76. The Colour Purple (Alice Walker)
77. Perfume (Patrick Suskind)
78. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
79. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
80. Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
81. Cat’s Eye (Margaret Atwood)
82. Time’s Arrow (Martin Amis)
83. The Crow Road (Iain Banks)
84. Possessing the Secret of Joy (Alice Walker)
85. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
86. The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy)
87. Veronika Decides to Die (Paulo Coelho)
88. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
89. The Devil and Miss Prym (Paulo Coelho)
90. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon)
91. Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro)

What a difference a day makes!

What a difference a day makes.

Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was because it was the last day of term, maybe it was because a number of pupils were involved in a special assembly, but I found my classes to be much calmer today.

My first lesson, a double, was really enjoyable. The class received back the test that they sat last lesson, and were keen to swap results. A few pupils asked if they could resit the exam they sat last year, because they want to improve their grade. It was nice to see them being so keen, smiling and trying to work out what mark they would have to get this year to make sure they would get a C (although I feel a bit for the boy to whom I had to answer ... "Emmm, 100%..."). We then learnt the key words for the new unit of work, which is one of the most interesting topics that we look at - the key words included heaven, hell, purgatory, paranormal, contraception, abortion, euthanasia ... So for every word we had an interesting discussion, with pupils posing me the questions ("If you had a child who was extremely ill, and was going to die, and was in a coma, and was on a life support machine, what would you do, Miss? Would you switch off the life support machine?"). We also had an interesting discussion about Madonna and her adoption of a Malawian child, which prompted a Ghanaian pupil to ask why it is always the negative aspects of life in Africa that are shown on TV, such as poverty and dire situations, instead of more everyday and balanced scenes. A question that my husband often addresses. A good question. Eventually, having copied down all the key words, we played Pictionary on the IWB. Great fun was had by all, getting to draw using their fingers. A really enjoyable morning, one of those lessons that makes teaching so worthwhile.

Another nice aspect of teaching is when you get the rare opportunity to sit down for a few minutes with colleagues. Today at lunchtime I discussed the finer points of civil and criminal law with a couple of other teachers who had managed to find twenty minutes in their busy schedules to sit in the staffroom, eat some lunch, rest and relax. My A Level students had been asking whether UK Law is based on determinist (hard or soft) or libertarian ethical theories. Made a change from discussing pupil behaviour!

I was exhausted by the end of the day, but a good exhausted. The first half term has finished; I can rest for a bit, catch up a bit, plan a bit, prepare for Ofsted a bit ... Have brought five sets of books home. Hurrah for holidays!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Day in the Life of ...

My day started with a meeting with the parents of a boy whose behaviour has been quite disruptive in lessons. It was a very productive meeting ... until it appeared that another teacher had the boy's school planner. The Father wanted to know where the teacher's room was, and the son helpfully pointed it out - not far from where we were meeting. I pointed out that the teacher was teaching, but the Father got up and strode off. He came back a few minutes later, angry with the response from the teacher. An angry stranger strides into your classroom as you finish taking the register and getting pupils on task with the starter, demanding to see his son's planner ... slightly intimidating, I would think - I'm sure I wouldn't be at my most accommodating. I felt very bad about my colleague - I was glad that I was able to see her in assembly a couple of hours later to apologise for not managing to stop him. I had been very taken by surprise at his reaction, since he had been very pleasant not long before. Anyway, I'm sure when I have children I might have a better idea of that protective feeling that parents must feel that can enable them to become angry like that ...

This meeting meant I was a bit late for my first class. Fortunately one of my departmental colleagues had let the class in, and they were all getting their books out. I was worried that I would arrive and find them playing tig, chase, basketball and let's annoy the other teachers in the playground. We were going over the last exam that the class had sat, and they were very keen to share their results with each other; not too keen to see how they could have improved though! We then began looking at the Key Words for the new unit of work. About four pupils were more interested in chatting than in getting started, and when I moved onto the next slide on the interactive whiteboard (IWB), they were very vocal about their discontent. "Move it back, Miss!", "I've almost finished!", "What have you done that for?" They were not too happy when I pointed out that everyone else in the class had long since finished copying out the meaning of Resurrection, but I like to think that everyone else was on my side, and happy that they could proceed! One boy took exception and decided to do no work for the rest of the lesson. Since he wasn't disturbing anyone else and was otherwise taking part in the class discussions that accompanied learning the meanings of contraception, paranormal and euthanasia, I decided to keep him in the room - he will just have extra homework over the holidays.

Assembly went well today - much better than the last one. Possibly because most of year 10 and year 11 were missing, for no apparent reason ... bizarre. Miss told the story of St Moses the Black to them, much better than I could have done! The pupils seemed quite happy that Black History Month was being marked in this way. I think we have done quite a bit for BHM recently. We've been studying Rosa Parks and Desmond Tutu in RE, and the Year 7s have been designing "Kick Racism Out of Football" posters, after reading interviews with Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand and Thierry Henry.

I have an interesting set of girls in one of my Year 10 classes. Today one of the them decided to sit in my chair when I was getting a new book from the office for a girl from another class. I told her to move to her own seat, and she petulantly answered back, "Don't speak to me rudely like that"! I couldn't quite believe my ears - she had simply been given a clear instruction - so already I started to form the idea that she would need to be sent to the Referral Unit. I thought I would give her a chance though, after she moved. However, she started listening to music, and when I told her to switch off the music and remove the earphones she spoke insolently again: "No, you spoke to me rudely. I'm going to listen to my music." Can you imagine the scene? The sulky pushed out bottom lip, the furrowed brow, the wrinkled nose, the disdain in her eyes? And she's quite a pretty girl really! Anyway, she was too much, so I told her to pack and go. She refused! Fortunately this time I was able to get in touch with an on-call teacher who came to take her away. She didn't want to go at first, but eventually did, calling me a silly woman on her way out. I'm sure I've had worse though! I have a period tomorrow when I should be able to catch up with her to get an apology in order to reintegrate her into the class.

In another Year 10 lesson, the class was completing its end of unit assessment. Well. Almost as soon as they started, one pupil pointed out that another child was cheating, looking at the book. I collected the book, did a sweep of the room for other books, sat back down again. One pupil was whispering an answer to another child. Two marks off each. Then another pupil made a comment about cheating. Another pupil had taken a book off the pile at the back and had it under the desk. That one was removed, another reappeared, removed, a pupil from another teacher came to borrow textbooks, another child picked up a book ... I suppose at least this shows that the pupils were keen to succeed, to do well. But the pupils who were calling out about cheating did not stop. I eventually had to send two outside, and told them that their calling out during the test was much worse for the whole class than the pupils who were cheating who were only limiting their own chances to learn how to improve. However, during this incident I could feel my blood pressure rise and rise ...

At the end of the day I was encouraging pupils to move quickly to the next lesson when a girl came and told me that there was a fight in the car park. Fortunately there was already a sixth former there separating the two main antagonists, or perhaps I should say the bully and victim. The rest of that period was spent sorting out that one incident. I was grateful to the sixth former and another pupil who did a great job of calming down the angry recipient of the bullying. I'm not sure how Heads of Year can manage, trying to sort out many such incidents in one day. They must be exhausted. I do think they should have more non-contact periods to help them do their job better.

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that I have attended three meetings this week, a clear breach of the Workload Agreement (or at least it's spirit), which recommends no more than one meeting per week. I will alert my union rep.

Right. I am exhausted now. Beef stew is in the oven, with stovies as the accompaniment. Looking forward to it - I think I need it!