Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Follow through, follow up.

It's been a not too bad three days, really. Although it didn't end so nicely today ... I started the day with one phonecall to a parent, which ended positively - she is coming to her son's lesson next week and feels "much better" having spoken to me. Although I should have called her before the holidays, really, because of an incident before then. One of those cases that slipped through the net ... lots of passing on but noone catching the ball and running with it. Then, at the end of the day I had to phone another parent about a pupil who had taken a phone call in lesson time - apparently it was from her mum, and I wanted to call and confirm that it was her and explain that I had sent her to the Referral Room for taking a call during the lesson - but I got her older sibling, whom I also teach, who said that she had been on the phone to her mum and then hung up on me. Which I felt was very rude, so made me very angry, but on reflection I am sure she was trying to protect her sister, and perhaps mine would have done the same for me ... ?! Anyway, I'll try again tomorrow. It's the following up on things that's the difficult bit. I'm sure my parents didn't have lots of calls from school ... ??

Busy day tomorrow. Almost a full teaching day, then a meeting with the DFES at uni, then a parents' evening back at school. When will I make that call? Better go and get some sleep now!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Travelling by tube

It's was okay, actually, fairly quiet ... but such a brown, wet, day. Why does it only rain when I'm having to walk?! (Or seem to, anyway.) Other than that, school was fine. Quite nice, really. Hope tomorrow is, too!

Monday, February 26, 2007


Just a quick one at the end of a long day (do you know, I worked non-stop from 8am to 5pm, including throughout lunch and break?). Have a bit of a sore head now - not surprising, really! Anyway, other than meetings and three lessons, photocopying, preparing resources etc, I had a cover lesson. Most of the pupils got on with the work - it was computer-based - but a group of about five pupils were more interested in a discussion they were having that in the work. And, to be honest, I was using the time to prepare some more resources, and they weren't disturbing the others, so I didn't intervene too much. Anyway, an interesting discussion that covered issues such as siamese twins, how to get rich, and - well, there was something that made me think, "That's interesting and funny - I should mention that on my blog," but now I've forgotten what it was! But there were some quite philosophical comments ... good to know the pupils are discussing everyday things in a sensible way sometimes!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hatches, Matches and Dispatches

Well, I managed to go through my briefcase ... and have really just made a neater pile of papers. I did get some other admin stuff done yesterday, and feel a bit better for it, although the important GCSE lesson plans have still not been completed. At least the house looks a bit tidier today though!

I was thinking of hatches, matches and dispatches on the way back from church today. Well, there have been no matches recently, but there have been some of the other two. On the more positive note, my sister-in-law had a little girl a couple of weeks back, a couple of weeks after her sister had a little boy, as did our Dutch friend and my ex-HoD. On the sadder note, my husband's aunt died a couple of weeks ago, as did the father of one of my uni friends, and today we heard that a Belgian friend of ours has also died, at a young age.

I've not got much else to say just now, really.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Finally ... I can tick something off my list!

At last, a productive day.

I produced a ppt for form tutors to show their forms to introduce Lent (Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving ...).
I have proofread our Self Evaluation document. (Must pass that onto the DHT to update.)
I've finished marking my Y11 Assessments - and have put their grades, and my Y7 levels, into our database.
I've put together a basic SoW for Y9s about Jesus. (Needs to be completely finished, but since I'm working on it with someone else, and we don't actually start teaching it for another couple of weeks, I think that's acceptable.)
I have planned two lessons for my A Level classes that can be used when the inspectors are around. Hopefully.
I've done the laundry. Although I better take it out the drier and put it away!

Now, all I have to do is:
* Review and finish my research questionnaires.
* Write a SoW for Y11s that will be part of my research - Marriage and Family Life.
* Plan the final lessons for the Y10 unit, Worship and Celebration.
* Plan a few more AS/A2 lessons ... I've started SoWs for these groups, I should add more to them.
* Go through my briefcase, filing certain documents at home, and sorting out what needs to be filed at school, and what can be filed in the bin.
* Add all the SEN/EAL/G&T data to my lesson plan templates so I'm ready for Ofsted.
* Get a MAC code so I can switch servers.
* Tidy the house.

So, not much left for me to do tomorrow, is there?!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wandering down Tottenham Court Road

I got the biggest, blackest cross I've ever seen on my forehead yesterday. Huge. Not like the discrete ones I got last year at school, where I managed to end up going up three times at different Masses to demonstrate to the pupils what they were supposed to do. Discovered later that you're not really meant to do that! But those ashen crosses seemed to disappear so quickly, no-one noticed!

We eventually decided we couldn't wait in wondering when the builders were going to stay forever, so we went to Oxford Street. Saw the big, orange, Chinese lanterns. Not that exciting, actually, although they probably look nicer at night. No, the highlight of the day was when we wandering up Tottenham Court Road trying to find Foyle's, the Bookshop (later discovering we should have turned right instead of left, since we were very close to it), and ended up going into the Scientology shop. We were invited to see a film, and out of interest since I occasionally teach it a bit (in the Sects and Cults section of my curriculum), and since H has an interest in these religious things too, we went to see the film. We're probably the two least likely people to be taken in by such a group, but surely others are not drawn in after watching the film on Dianetics that we saw.

We were led first of all into the small, downstairs bookshop, where hundreds of copies of L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics, in multitudes of languages including Cantonese, Zulu and Khosa, were lined up on shelves. The people working there all had black suits on, the women with white blouses, the men (well, man - we only saw one) with a red tie, that seemed appropriate. We walked up the red carpetted stairs, past one door bearing the sign "Film in Progress" on the first floor, and up we went to the second floor. We were shown into a room with about 16 red velvet chairs laid out as in a theatre. We sat on the front row, in front of a screen. Two more people came in a couple of minutes later. The film was called, "Book 1". It was something else. L. Ron Hubbard was only ever seen from behind - like early films featuring Jesus. Instead, he had three friends who read sackfuls of letters out to him, only pausing to comment, "I've been a doctor for twenty years, and in all my knowledge and experience, I've never known anything to work as effectively as Dianetics!" and "In my years of study as a Psychiatrist, nothing comes close to Dianetics as a method of helping people!" In the one scene where someone was shown to have hurt his head, the talk was all about how he was going to have to have it amputated, then, the back of Hubbard's head, and a moment of revelation, "Ah! Now I know why I felt that way!" and all of a sudden, the man isn't going to lose his leg after all. Anyway, the story built up to a crescendo, the publishing of Hubbard's first book, about Dianetics. The two people behind us had had enough, and walked out. We stayed, waiting to see what happened next. And suddenly, the film stopped, the screen went blank, and the lights came on. Was that it? Like that? No finale? The door opened, and a woman walked in. Just behind her was another Scientology Operative, or Thetan, or whatever, and we called out - "Was that it? Is it finished?" Another film was just beginning. Not our one ... this one began with dark shadows. The woman looked shocked ... "Hadn't it finished?" When the other couple left, she had assumed the film was finished, that noone else was left behind, imbibing their teaching. So a bit embarrassed to find us still there! She offered to put on the film again for us in the other, now vacant, film room, but we didn't want to watch it all from the beginning again, and she couldn't fast forward it, so we decided to leave. She showed us the books downstairs, which we decided not to buy, then offered us a free personality test. Very tempting ... just to be able to tell my class about it so they don't feel tempted to ... but decided against it, since it was now getting late and we had to find Foyles.

Well, we walked and walked, and eventually asked for directions. And were given directions to Waterstones on Gower Street. So we now know where that is, but since they didn't have the book we wanted, that was not much use anyway. So we wandered back down Gower Street (old university street which reminded me of my Alma Mater) then eventually headed over to Charing Cross Road. And Foyles. And got the book.

We finished the day off at Dionysus, a Greek kebab restaurant/cafe. Finally full, we headed home, only pausing to enjoy Eduardo Paolozzi'a mosaics at Tottenham Court Road underground.

Today has been spent at the Opticians, with a bit of shopping. I didn't realise Peacock's at so many nice clothes, for younger people. But didn't buy anything there. Maybe after pay day. Since then, I've read a book ... but for that, you'll need to read other blog!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

John Donne

We've just been to a really interesting book event. John Stubbs was being interviewed about his new book, "John Donne: A Reformed Soul". Since H and I both love Donne's poetry, it was a good event to go to. Very informative, and the author, who is only in his late 20s, was very enthusiastic and good-humoured. It was a shame we didn't manage to speak to him before he left.

Having had an enjoyable evening, we rounded it off with a visit to Brick Lane. Partly because we've had the builders in all day, so therefore haven't eaten much, and now we've been left without a sink and hobs. They're back tomorrow, apparently at 8am. I'll believe it when I see it. Really hope they come and finish it quickly so we can get out to Covent Garden for the afternoon. After going to church for Ash Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Shrove Tuesday

Another weird sort of day today. I made pancakes for breakfast, then the plumber people arrived. They've been here ever since ... so no stove, no water, the microwave is on the floor, and I've been reading papers for hours. Just as well we're going out to hear a talk about John Donne this evening. And I've so much to do ... but it's hard when builders are walking in and out!


Perhaps my last post was a premonition of the film we would see tonight ... Dreamgirls. I quite enjoyed the Nandos beforehand ... the film itself was quite entertaining, in a passing the time type of way. But perhaps we would have been more moved by Blood Diamond or Babel ... Thought Jennifer Hudson was good though. Not many people there though ... Perhaps 9pm on a Monday night isn't the most popular time for going to the movies! Anyway, H was not impressed! But there seem to be some interesting films coming up. Freedom Writers, and Becoming Jane, for example.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sweet Dreams

I presume it's because I'm sleeping quite well but then I am still woken up by my alarm ...

The night before last I dreamt that I was swimming through the sky, miles above the ocean, swiimming back to the UK, looking down on the tiny boats and every so often people swimming in the sea, who had presumably jumped off the boats for a swim, they were so far from land. It was a nice feeling, although I was a bit worried about growing tired before I got home, and worried that if that happened I might fall. However, I was enjoying it. Trying to keep out of the way of seagulls and a Stageoach bus that was also travelling in the sky at one point.

Then last night I dreamt of two things ... firstly, I was looking for a plain black handbag, not too expensive. I wasn't having much luck, but then I found a black patent one with a clasp and a long beaded "handle" - not quite what I was looking for, but inside was a wallet, which contained a safety pin, and other useful bits and pieces. The bag cost £6, and, although not exactly what I was looking for, I decided that it was worth it for the wallet alone.

Then, having bought the bag, someone came up to me and asked me to interview some swans. (Aha, Wild Swans - the book I'm reading right now ... perhaps that was the inspiration!) I didn't want to, because I thought it was a bit strange, but also because I was scared of them, because they were as big as dogs and I thoguht they'd jump up at me, but eventually, I had to give in and ended up interviewing a couple of swans. Didn't find out too much, though, because then I woke up.

At least it makes a change from dreaming about school! Bizarre!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hurray for the Holiday!

I've finally made it! I'm on holiday! I'm not quite sure that it's sunk in yet ... I was still busily beavering away in the office at 5pm last night, trying to decide what to take home and what to leave. It's all because the Call has still not come ... Frankly, I think it's rather unfair of Ofsted leaving us hanging on like this ... The short, sharp shock of inspection is supposed to make it easier, so that teachers are not planning for weeks on end for their inspection, but instead we've been on 72 hours notice of an inspection since September, and it's going to loom over our half term too. Anyway, at least it is the holiday, and although some teachers are running classes and going in over the holidays, I am not one of them. I've even been good at not bringing home all my boxes of marking this time. I've only got my Year 11 end of unit tests that I should mark today so I can update their predicted grades.

So, what are the plans for the week? Well, some are unfortunate and mundane tasks - after finishing the washing up and the laundry I need to arrange to get a new windscreen, since there are two rather large cracks in it ... a by-product of pupils throwing stones, perhaps? I can't be quite sure, but I suspect they may be the culprits. Only noticed it as I arrived home last night. I can be sure about the providence of the scar along my glasses, though ... you're not supposed to use the edge of your top in order to clean your glasses. Especially if that top has small diamontes sewn on. So that is my next chore, to book an appointment with an optician. Especially since I've not had my eyes tested for about 18 months, either. I'll probably try to book that for Monday afternoon, so I can go straight there after my dentist appointment. Another unhappy visit, I fear. The last time I saw him, my dentist told me I'd need to have my wisdom teeth taken out. They've been fine recently, it's okay, they can stay there ... So I'm not particularly looking forward to that.

The next category of things to do involves my research. I must complete my questionnaires, both for the pupils and the teachers. My tutor is having a look at them this week, to see if they look suitable. I should also try and use this opportunity to complete my Methods and Methodology Review, and it would be great if I could get started on my Literature Review, which is due in after Easter. I also need to write the Marriage and Family Life Scheme of Work, which needs to involve lots of Assessment for Learning.

This leads me onto my next category - school stuff. I am jointly responsible for the next Year 9 SoW, Jesus in the Gospels. I need to do some work on that, in conjunction (via email) with a colleague. I think I will also try to make sure that there are at least three lessons planned for Year 7 (Reconciliation) and Year 8 (The Paschal Mystery) in case the colleagues responsible have not managed to complete those for the first week back. I will also try to write a SoW for Year 10 ... Living the Christian Life. And I should plan a few lessons for my A Level classes too. So, as you can see, my main aims this week, school wise, revolve around one of my favourite parts of teaching - planning lessons. But it's been such a long time that I've had to write one that I'm worried they'll all be rubbish! I also have some admin-y things to do, too, such as checking over the SEF and making sure the handbook is up to date. So all that should keep me busy.

Finally, the most important category ... H and I having a lovely holiday, using the opportunity to visit museums and galleries, or simply wandering around the shops, or sitting at home getting some reading done. Relaxing. Resting. Enjoying life, and each other's company. I'm looking forward to it. Hope I can manage to fit in some of those other things around this most important task!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Berry nice pudding

By the way, we finished with that berry nice pudding ... but only a few berries because we were quite full by then. And no more Gillian McKeith comments, thank you very much - the melted chocolate with cream sauce was very tasty, although the smell of the burnt chocolate from my first attempt was a bit annoying.

Anyway, the lovely day yesterday has kept me going through two lots of Year 10s and double Year 11s today, so that's good. Spent two hours printing out and sorting Schemes of Work into folders at the end of the day. Am glad to be home!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Going grey

I've left this post until now, putting in the nice ones first.

I was telling H about my day, including my horrendous Year 7s, and he commented that they must be giving me grey hairs ... and pulled one in front of my eyes! I didn't really believe him at first, so I went to the mirror to investigate, and, lo and behold, there was my first white hair! I have pulled it out, and photographed it against a black background for posterity. Not sure it'll show up too well though ... I'm quite upset that at my still quite young age, and without any of my own children to blame it on, I've already started going grey! (But don't tell Granny, because I'm not planning on starting to dye my hair any time soon! Better things to spend my time on!)

Main Course ... Mmmmmm!

Well, I have to say that the piece de resistance of this course was the delicious special Valentine's Day Sauce that went with it ... based loosely on Delia's recipe, this orange and red wine sauce was, well, delicious, delectable, divine ... if I say so myself! The rest was pretty good, too, I thought!

Valentine's Day

What a lovely day it's been (other than school, of course). When I came out the shower, I was greeted with a lovely single red rose, and some chocolates! Mmmmmmmm! So that was a great start to the day! And I finished with a non-contact period, so I got myself ready and was out the door as soon as the bell went ... not often that happens!

We're now two thirds of the way through a three course meal ... starter was tomato and mozzarella cheese served on a bed of green leaves, with Italian parma ham. Next up will be the duck course, with potatoes and romantic brussell sprouts, hopefully with a nice gravy sauce, then we'll finish with a berry nice pudding (strawberries, raspberries and blueberries with a chocolate-cream sauce). Red wine on the side, the rose on the table ... nice romantic music in the background.

What a lovely evening!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Going bananas!

I am very happy to announce that I feel much better today! I think it was a combination of tiredness and not eating much at lunch that contributed to not feeling so well yesterday. However, I had a pot of pasta today which kept me going, and, although still quite tired, I'm very happy!

It was great to arrive home to a delicious plate of spaghetti bolognese - H was keen to try out the recipe he get from our visitor (who is, at present, flying to the other side of the world) - and he made a great job of it! Mmmmm!

So I have decided to reciprocate by using up our old bananas in Delia's banana and walnut without the walnuts loaf. Now, I've never had a cake that wobbled so much before when I cut into it! I was a bit afraid that the insides were going to spill out as soon as I pierced the crusty outer crust ... fortunately it's just the bananas bulging around a bit, but it's very tasty! (H has just finished it, and he has also really enjoyed it - more than he thought he would! Me too!)

School has been school, just in case you're wondering ... although the General Sixth Form RE was marginally better than normal because I showed them a clip from the BBC about the woman who wants to die and that led into an interesting discussion about euthanasia.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A bit under the weather

The plan is that we teach a full week this week. Wonder how we'll cope?! I'm already counting down the days! I think because I felt very tired today. Felt a bit ill on the way home. Slept for 15 mins or so in the Tesco car park. Hope I'm not coming down with something!

I'm going to blame it on my Year 7s, I think. They listened so nicely to each other when the AHT was in the room, and they had such good ideas in their assessment presentations. But then she left, and they got noisier and noisier! So that hurt my throat. Then the Year 10s - I'm not quite sure what happened there. A large number of strange pupils came into the classroom - not sure who - but that wound up my pupils, and it took 15 mins to get started. We only managed half the lesson. Let's hope we finish it next lesson.

Right. Time for bed!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Dumb Waiter

I tried to make good use of my snow day yesterday. I planned a questionnaire for my Year 11s as part of my research. But the highlight of the day was going out to Thai Square for a delicious red Thai chicken curry, and then we went to see Pinter's black absurdist comedy, The Dumb Waiter.

This was a really good night out ... very bizarre, the play left us stunned, dumbfounded, baffled, but also intrigued. It was also good to see Lee Evans and Jason Isaacs. The play was staged in Trafalgar Studios, which is a good theatre ... it seemed very intimate, and because the auditorium is so steep, everyone had a good view. The staging was good - old tiles, dingy beds, and a noisy dumb waiter, that was as much a character as Gus and Ben.

V had read the play before - it is his favourite Pinter play - so that was why we went. And a good night it was too.

As for today ... we've tidied up the displays, but we've still not had the call. Dumb waiters?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Proper Snow Day!

We sort of expected it this morning ...

The snow at home was not quite as conducive to making snowballs as the last lot, since it was a bit slushier, but it wasn't too bad either. The drive in to work was a lot slower because of the slush, but it was nice to see everything getting whiter the further north I went. The worst part of the drive was the road that leads to the school, which had not been gritted so was quite snowy.

I didn't see anyone around, so went up to the staffroom, where a few staff were milling about. One of the Deputy Heads arrived and said that we would be sending the pupils home about midday, partly because so many staff from further afield had been unable to get in. So we were to send the pupils to the canteen, from where we could distribute them to classes as necessary.

A few of us had a bit of a snowball fight in the back playground. That was fun ... nothing like setting a good example! I mean, that, it was *nothing* like a good example!

The pupils were really quite good. One of the Houses had a Feast Day today, so the Year 7s and 8s went to join them, the Year 9s went off to SATs revision in the library, the Year 10s went to Maths for some revision, and the Year 11s went to English to finish off coursework and revise for their exams.

Those of us who do not teach those subjects were asked to help out where appropriate. I went to English. There was a group of six or seven boys whose teacher was not in. One was playing on the computer, a couple were gazing out the window at the snow, sitting on a radiator, and the others were milling around, unsure what to do. I went to another teacher to get some poems that they could revise, and thus started my first English lesson! It was great fun. We read a poem called "Island Man" by Grace Nicholls, and discussed its context, attitude, language and structure. I remembered terms from my days of Practical Criticism such as assonance, oxymoron, alliteration and metaphors. We talked about the different stanzas and the layout of the poem. It was great fun! And at the end one of the boys thanked me for the lesson, which was a bonus!

The pupils left about 11am, and most of the rest of us not long afterwards. I went to the garage to get a new rear windscreen wiper, which had fallen off in the morning. And now I'm home!

Best news of all ... tomorrow is a real snow day! (Although possibly without snow ...) The school is closed! So I can have a lie in. Bliss!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

University, or trying to keep my eyes open

I'm so tired! What a common refrain. However, at least it's been a fine day. I quite like Wednesdays, when they go well. I did send 4 year 7s to the referral room. But I think it's the only way I can teach some of the other ones. Year 10s - lots were missing, away on a trip to Oxbridge. So those that were left were quite happy copying out an advent wreath and labelling it. My two frees were spent, once again, running around after or for people, and I managed to plan a couple of lessons at the end of the day. However, I had planned on tidying up the office at that point, which means that the office has been left in a terrible state, and I have a visitor arriving tomorrow. And I'm teaching all day, so I don't really have time to tidy up in the morning ... ah well. She'll have to take me as she finds me! Then I had to leave for uni ... could hardly keep my eyes open during the discussion on data analysis. At least I've managed to write half of my methods and methodology review ...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Running around all day

It's been a running around day! Only a few lessons, but I've never stopped in one place for more than about fifteen minutes at any one time. I had an impromptu meeting with the Deputy Head, which raised a couple of issues I had to deal with straightaway, which weren't even those issues he wanted to discuss. One member of staff was off, which meant I had to go running around to make sure the cover teachers arrived in the right place at the right time. I did a very small amount of book sampling, and wrote up the minutes from yesterday's meeting. I planned a sixth form RE lesson (sort of) then even more sort of tried to teach it. I photocopied and distributed a lot of info, which I prepared last night, and did some general filing. Still loads to do ... I taught a pretty haphazard Year 10 lesson, and as for my Year 7s ... They came through the door wrestling with another class, jammed the door shut, got panicky because they thought they wouldn't be able to leave, started climbing through the windows, fell on the floor, shouted, wandered around, played on the computer ... all this while I tried desperately to get someone to come over to help out and take one (or more) away ... We eventually managed to get them quiet, but no work was completed. I'll write to all the parents. We've kept statements from all of them. It's so frustrating, though. Then I had a long meeting about Ofsted. We're still waiting for that call ...

Monday, February 05, 2007

An Empty Classroom

It's so nice to be in school getting on with stuff without pupils! We have changed all the Year 10 groups, stamped all the new books ... emmm, I'm sure I did a lot of other things, but can't remember what they were! But I was busy for a long time, and it was nice to be in school without the pupils. Lots of admin-y things. It was good. But I'm tired. Again! Off to mark.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Globe Theatre

What a lovely crisp, fresh, cold, blue sky day. We've been to the Globe Theatre on the South Bank today. It's amazing! We spent hours there ... there is an excellent display about Shakespeare's London, and the Romans, but the highlight of the visit must have been going into the Globe itself. It's amazing the way that the theatre has been built recently but in a completely authentic style, down to the thatched roof. The only disappointment was that we didn't get a chance to go on the stage! Also had lovely parsnip and thyme soup at the cafe there. Well worth the entrance fee (£9 for adults, £7.50 for students and over 60s). There are still aspects I didn't get to see.

Have spent a lovely evening back home catching up with the news from Malawi, and looking at old photos and sketches

Friday, February 02, 2007

Where have I been?

It's been non stop since I last posted! Just to give you a flavour ...

Yesterday ... taught periods 1-4, left to go to a meeting, 2-4pm, left early to go to another meeting, 4-6.30pm, left early to get back to school for parents' sixth form open evening, 7.30-9pm, drove home, in bed by about 11pm ...

This morning ... got up, off to work, taught periods 1-4 (went really well - a lovely day that finished with Who Wants to be a Millionaire with five pupils, during which the fire alarm went off, but three still came back to finish the game), then a staff meeting, then we all went off for lunch, paid by the school. Ate lots (Greek mezze), then shopping and back home. Our visitor (V) has finally arrived, and we've had a lovely evening chatting and reminiscing. Decided to go out for dinner, so headed in to Angel and had Turkish - I had moussaka, which was delicious. We're just back in, back to the warmth of our home, and we're all now ready for bed!

So goodnight!