Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Year!

We had two students with birthdays today, apparently - one was three, the other four. Other than that, it was a bit of a depressing day as far as behaviour and pupil attitude went. Some of them are so disrespectful in their language and behaviour towards others and themselves. Apparently we're going to have yet another supply teacher next week ...

Nice to come home to H, although he has a bad cold. Get to see my sister tomorrow! Yeah!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Reports ...

Well, I've managed nine ... out of about 26, I think ... so far. It's hard work, even when it's a bit easier than normal ... I'm sure I could come up with some standard statements, but sometimes it's nice to be able to be a bit more personal!

Had an interesting meeting this afternoon to do with rewriting some textbooks. Don't want to take on too much, but it's nice to be able to bounce ideas about and say what you're looking for in a textbook. We'll see what happens ...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Feeling the earth move ...

Was woken up this morning, just before 1am, to a gentle shaking of my bed. Wondered what it was at first, then gradually realised that it was an earth tremor. Decided it must be a big tremor, because it went on for a good few seconds - the bed seemed to move back and forth six or seven times - but also far away, because the rocking motion was so smooth, compared to the last earth tremor I felt a few years ago. Learnt that it was in Lincolnshire.

Noone mentioned it at school ... meant to ask if anyone else had felt it, but forgot. Supply teacher was off again today, so had to plan more lessons again.

Had dreadful headache yesterday - slept from 5.30pm until 10pm, got up for food, then slept again until this morning. Headache started again a couple of times during lessons. Managed to control it again but it's still hovering.

Had a good meeting with my mentor about another project that I'm about to start.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Back to school

Well, that's one day over! Another three and a half weeks until Easter!

It's wasn't that bad, actually, although the new seating arrangements - islands of desks rather than the rows that had been driving me crazy, they're so boring - caused a bit of consternation!

The highlights came in my Year 7 class and at lunchtime. Both involved handing back the assessments I've been marking over the holidays. One boy, who is often quite badly behaved, got back his assessment. The first level written on it was very low - I only had a sheet with a few notes. But I thought he might have written another page. At first, he started protesting - "But I wrote all that, Miss!" - but then I showed him another page - "Yes! That's mine!" - and soon he was jumping all over the classroom shouting with delight at his grade! He has asked me to send it home, so I am going to photocopy it and send it home with a note. And I've been telling his other teachers, so hopefully he'll get more praise too.

Then at lunch a couple of Year 9 boys came by to see if I had marked their assessments. I had, and, once again, they were delighted with the grades - they were the top two in their class, one joint equal second with one of the girls who is normally top of the class, so they were really happy too!

It makes all that marking worthwhile!

Time for Bed!

Well, I've passed it, actually. And foolishly - I could have finished this marking ages ago if I hadn't interspersed it with random and pointless excursions to the internet.


I have just finished marking my Year 8 Assessments! And half inputted their reports! And I have also made a good start on another essay that is due in on Friday. So my to-do list now looks like this:

1) Finish writing Year 8 Reports.
2) Complete lesson plan on the Sacraments.
3) Write booklets of work as back-ups from Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 - except that's not really necessary, and instead I have made some key word list worksheets to keep me going.

It's been a really productive half term, relaxing as well (although it's so late, so I'm bound to be tired tomorrow!), and I'm feeling positive about going back. I'm going to rearrange my classroom ... Let's see how it goes! Goodnight!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Eating Out and Staying In

Had a lovely evening out last night meeting up with a Dutch friend and one of her colleagues. We went to Chutney's on Brick Lane, our "local" Brick Lane restaurant, but it was a bit weird. We waited ages to order, then the man insisted on bringing us poppadoms before he took our order, then left these with us without taking the order at all! Someone else did take the order, and the food was really good, as always, but I had to ask four or five times (possible more!) for a second mango lassi, which eventually arrived after the hot food it had meant to cool finished! H decided the waiters were probably overworked and very tired by the time they were serving us. Anyway, the company was great, and we chatted until midnight. It's always good to get someone else's perspective on education as well. Our friend has encouraged me to try a Michelle Pfeiffer on some of our more difficult students. I will try!

Have planned a couple of assessments, but no further on the essay or Year 8 marking and reports. Must get the essay done now.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Doing the admin ...

I've completed some admin-y type stuff. So I still have the two big jobs and the other hopeful but creative jobs to go, but at least that list is getting shorter!

1) Complete an essay on sex education and email to tutor by the end of the week.
2) Marking Assessments: - Year 8 Assessments
3) Write Year 8 Reports.
4) Choose and start planning essay or lesson plan on the Sacraments. (Check when due.)
5) Write booklets of work as back-ups from Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My new to-do list!

I have just finished the revision guide! So now the to-do list looks like this:

1) Complete an essay on sex education and email to tutor by the end of the week.
2) Submit my Y9 project proposal to appropriate person.
3) Write up an overview of my Masters for the grant awarding body.
4) Marking Assessments: - Year 8 Assessments
5) Write Year 8 Reports.
6) Choose and start planning essay or lesson plan on the Sacraments. (Check when due.)
7) Write booklets of work as back-ups from Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9.

So it's a lot shorter now!

Updating the to do list ...

I am just back from a fine few days with my auntie up north. There I was able to make a good inroad into my marking - all the books are now up to date, and I just have the Year 8 assessments to go! It was also a funny time for coincidences. I am reading "Mister Pip" at the moment, and three funny things happened while I was reading it. First, my auntie came to tell me that the weather girl was forecasting "rime" - neither of us knew what it was, but then I read about "a rimy morning" in Mister Pip, quoting Charles Dickens - a frosty morning. Then the next day auntie came to tell me that we would have lychees for pudding - just after I had finished a paragraph about the sweetness of lychees! Then, finally, this morning I overhead her telling her neighbour about her pineapple coring device that we had used the previous evening - at the precise moment I read the word "pineapple" in my book! So a strange few days! Great, anyway. We watched Brokeback Mountain. It was much better than I had expected. Very poignant, sad.

Anyway, also nice to be home. Now, must finish those Year 8 reports and write my essay that is due in on Monday ...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My to-do list

Just thought I'd share my to-do list for this week with you all.

1) Complete an essay on sex education and email to tutor by the end of the week.
2) Plan my new Year 9 project and submit to appropriate person.
3) Write a revision booklet for our Year 11s.
4) Write up an overview of my Masters for the grant awarding body.
5) Marking Assessments:
- Year 9 Assessment from last term
- Year 9 Assessment from this term
- Year 7 Assessments
- Year 8 Assessments
- Year 11 end of unit tests
6) Mark books: Year 7, Year 8, Year 9, Year 10, Year 11.
7) Write Year 8 Reports.
8) Choose and start planning essay or lesson plan on the Sacraments. (Check when due.)
9) Write booklets of work as back-ups from Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9.

Now, there's probably more but those are the main things I can think of at the moment. And I'll be out of the house for a few days, being pampered at my auntie's. However, I have already almost completed 2, have begun 3, and have marked two sets of books, so that's a not bad start for the week, with it only being Sunday as well. We have rearranged the room, so both H and I have room for our computers on one table, facing each other, and it feels like a much better layout. I've been inspired to work more, and although I can vaguely see the TV, I don't feel too tempted to watch it if I can hear it okay while working.

Anyway, I am on holiday, so all is right with the world!

(And I should get my Masters results during the week too!)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Laughing at art

We went to the Hayward Gallery today to see their "Laughing in a Foreign Language" exhibition. The first thing that struck me on entering was the seriousness of the visitors, as we read the explanations with furrowed brow, and contemplated deeply the meaning of each work. The four furry animals in a pile, supposedly an illegal immigrant family being paid to dress up this way each day. A clown walking along a green and leafy river, like Sisyphus or an Escher drawing. A video giving instructions to an illegal immigrant on how to blend in, with simple drawings to match. The battle between fire and water, with remade teapots and fans facing each other in a luminous head to head. A portrait of a family made out of pornographic pictures. A door that leads no where with a miaowing cat and a pile of keys to tempt the viewer. Three joke machines that tell a seemingly endless number of jokes when you press a button. A video of Chinese people, old and young, poor and police, dancing to some sort of electro-hip-hop. A Japanese Bin Laden who is fed up of terrorism and has been converted to sake and Japanese food. Little squiggles and sketches graffited on the walls, including a king's head that is either happy or sad depending on which eye you close.

A man dressed up as a stag performing a shamanistic ritual in a Liverpool tower block. A Cameroonian who deliberately makes himself an object of suspicion when he travels, by carrying wooden luggage or a strange walking stick. A man who gives white wet paint handshakes while wearing a smart black tuxedo. A little girl who plays with rabbits and has her own burrow in the kitchen. A box who tells his story. A stool that looks like a person bending over, so if anyone sits on it they look very peculiar indeed, like they are cruelly squashing someone. The Chapman brothers' vandalism of The Rake's Progress. David Shrigley's drawings.

I laughed at some of the jokes, the Cameroonian when his passport photo looked simply like a black blob, and the girl playing with the rabbits (and her little brother playing plastic bottle drums along with their father). The rest were interesting, but probably had more to say about migration than laughter or laughing. So lots of interesting art, but not so sure about the title!

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Positive Outlook

I've felt really positive today. Things may be looking up. We had an inset today, and first of all we were looking at that prickly area of behaviour. Following our last meeting, another new system has been put forward, and this time I think it might work. I certainly felt more empowered looking at it. There seems to be more emphasis on the teacher having the ability to make decisions for ourselves, rather than having to refer to other people, and there will be more teachers patrolling the area, so it should be less likely that no one arrives to remove any difficult pupils.

It was also obvious that our comments had been listened to - key words and ideas that we had written down on our sheet were used during the session and put into the system overview, which I think for about the first time made me feel that my contribution to this process was really valued.

We were also looking at curriculum, and it was great to be talking about teaching, about education, about learning, rather than complaining about behaviour!

So a really positive day, and to make things even better, when I came home, H fixed the (two!) huge dents in the car doors! (The second one happened a couple of days ago.) So that's saved us almost #700!!

We had a lovely meal out for Valentine's Day last night (well, we brought it home and watched "The Hoax"), and tonight I made a tasty and filling tortilla thing with eggs, potato, onion and bacon. I'm full now!

Watched The Choir tonight again - I hope I remember to watch them at the Albert Hall next week!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Suits, Basketball and Celebrations

Must try and focus on the positive today! Even though I'm missing out on the Eastern European Evening because I don't feel so well. And the hall and dining hall look great! I wore a skirt suit today, and in every class, and also while I went through the playground, at least one student would comment on how smart or how nice I looked! A couple of students asked where I got my shirt from, and one pupil asked if I had an interview after school! I have to say, it made a hard and busy day a bit brighter, a bit easier.

Then at lunch I went to watch "my boys" (from my form) beat the others to win the house basketball tournament, which was fun too (apart from being hit smack in my stomach by the ball at one point). I am their lead supporter - difficult trying to get them to join in with a house chant though! They just look a bit embarrassed at their noisy form tutor! But I think they appreciate it, which is nice. And one pupil was dressed very smartly as their manager, and was receiving praise from the other pupils for the team winning, which was lovely too!

So there are good moments every day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


It's tough to keep going when you are trying to ensure three lessons at a time have cover work, you're on your fourth supply teacher in seven days and you know a new one will be joining you tomorrow, and your pupils won't listen or get on with their assessments. Demoralising. Pupils coming in and out of lessons, Year 11s cheating during their tests, Year 7s "daring" other well behaved Year 7s to swear in class or just be generally rude, and Year 9s making other Year 9s cry. Really wish they wanted to learn and would let me help them.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Oysters and Lobster

We've had a lovely evening out tonight, surprisingly, since we arrived too late to see the show at the Hayward that we wanted to see, then were heading into Soho for a specific Indian that we couldn't find, but then we passed a busy and vibrant looking restaurant, Randall & Aubin; the door was ajar, as the queue tried to squeeze in, and the smell of garlicky freshness lured us towards the menu, hanging in the window, which spoke of fruits de mer, rotisserie, viandes and hors d'oeuvre. And, finally sealing our fate for the evening, the window display was filled with lobster, langoustine, prawns, oysters, clams, whelk and crab. We squeezed in, too.

The 25 minute wait was well worth it, and flew by as we sipped citron presse and white wine, while watching the chefs display their artistry. Lobsters were halved, rocket torn, chips - pomme frites - shaken and fried, oysters artistically arranged on beds of ice, and seabass dishes prepared with precision and ease. What a delicious entree to our meal!

We were seated in a private corner, with candles and the menus framed on the wall next to us. Perched on our high chairs, we made the decision to celebrate Valentine's Day early, sharing our first taste of oysters. The six rock oysters duly arrived, and we slurped them with a pinch of Tabasco and pickled onion juice. An interesting and overall positive experience. And the beautiful mother of pearl-esque shells caught my eye, so I have brought one home with me as a memento!

For our main course, H had the lobster - he'd decided early on in the evening that he had not had lobster for a while and he'd like to have some again - and I had the seabass. Both were delicious - well, I don't like lobster, but I tried some, and it was actually quite nice! My seabass - mmmmm! - came with rocket, a spring onion, chive and rosemary salsa, and sauted potatoes. Very filling. So much so that I decided to forego the dessert, and go straight to the cafe latte.

A very delicious evening, and a pleasant walk on an almost balmy night along Carnaby Street back towards Oxford Circus.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Sweeney Todd the Barber!

We have just arrived back from watching Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street - and a fine night it was too! Excellent entertainment. Evil Edward Scissorhands meets Corpse Bride meets Charlie and the Blood Factory meets the Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Music ... !!! Great. I love a good song, and it was quite poignant too. Highly recommended!