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!)


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


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.