Mostly Me

Just Three Days

With three days to go the Unbirthday party is now going to happen whether we want it or not. I have enough juice, roses, cakes for most of the kids to have a decent time. I have guest gifts for half of them, packs of cards for everyone. At the very least, we can sit around and play Snap. We could also make crepe paper roses, because both Katie and I can knock those out pretty well now. I think what I really need is some sleep!


Planning an Un-Birthday Party

In a fortnight the girls will be having an un-birthday celebration. It is neither's birthday, but we did very little for their actual birthdays, so an un-birthday party it is. Naturally this lends itself to an Alice in Wonderland theme, so I am indulging every creative whim I have. I appreciate this is pretty boring in a conversation, but I am desperate to talk about it. This morning it hit me: I have a blog! I can talk about my own interests at length. I just need to put it out there.

To start I am making coffee filter roses, which we will paint red. This is why it is important to use coffee filters, because they take watercolour paints beautifully and naturally. The roses should look like they are red rather than just painted red. I am not sure if this harmonizes best with the storyline, but it works for me. I now have six roses made and need fourteen more. Two weeks should be plenty of time as long as I do one a day.

I have a couple other unfinished projects spinning around. One is a cardboard dollhouse which doesn't need, but would benefit from, curtains. Katie made gorgeous windowboxes full of flowers, which lend themselves beautifully to the authentic image of a small house. The guests will sit in the house, arms and legs pouring out of windows and doors and we will take a commemorative photo. Should be very cute if it can hold up to the shenanigans of up to twenty children.

There are still things I need to buy, but I am trying to rely on a "more time than money" philosophy. As such I am printing out Alice-themed cootie catchers. A brilliant friend advised me to fold them and then unfold them so the children can fold their own without its going horribly wrong. Genius, I tell you. Same friend is also baking individual mini tiered cakes for each guest. And jam tarts for the parents. I have some truly amazing friends. Oh, I'm paying her, but still.

I'll update you on progress as I have it.

Working hard for the... experience?

So much for being gainfully employed. I'm working all this week, but won't get paid for it until August. Or September. Whichever comes later, I think. I'm not even really a teacher this week, I'm just doing supply, which is subbing in American. I've met one class which I adore and today had two classes I didn't like much at all. There could be a slight issue of bias in that the adorable class is going to be mine next year. The unlikeables are leaving for secondary school in a week. They're full of attitude, swagger, fear and hormones. Not like my little dears next year.

I have seen the classroom I'll have next year. It's got to be the smallest in the school. It's pathetically cramped. I can only hope my students don't grow very much over the summer and learn to sit still a bit better than they do now. There is just no room to get up and wander about.

My budget to spruce up the classroom has also been announced. To my friends who are teachers and have their own budgets, I apologise. I don't mean to make you crazy with envy, but I will lay it bare. I am getting £20 pounds to spend on the classroom. For the year. I know! Awesome, right?! My mind is racing with all the possibilities. I could by a map of the world! And some... pencils! Maybe, if I am careful with my pennies, I might even get a little pencil sharpener, too. Those can be very handy.

Actually, they're critical. In my admittedly limited experience, pencil sharpeners and erasers (called rubbers here. Really.) are like cigarettes in jail. They're highly valuable and can be used as currency. In my last school the boys would smuggle them around in their socks. I kid you not. Everyone was so afraid the rubbers would be snatched away, they snatched them as soon as they were within sight. The irony was completely lost on them.

Now I'm going into a school where the kids really can't afford their own pencils and erasers. How does any teacher make it out of there with their salary intact? It's all I can do not to bring a kid home with me! I've already got my eye on one little boy. You know, just in case his mum forgets to pick him up one day. I wouldn't put it past her, actually.

I'm off to bed. Can't afford to make any dire mistakes like I did today. So embarrassing. Must fight off pariah-status gained from today's transgression. Think of me.

(oh, you want to know what I did that was so terrible? Okay, I'll tell you. Brace yourself. I wore jeans.)

PGCE is D-O-N-E!

Barring any unforseen panicked phone calls from Goldsmiths, I AM DONE! I am an official NQT - Newly Qualified Teacher. My new school even wants me to start teaching on Monday. So exciting! I'll be teaching the class I will take over in September. I'll get to know their names and get to start thinking about them over the summer. I'm half tempted to be really wicked, so they can spend the whole summer sweating about what a strict teacher I am going to be.

Back to now. I AM DONE! Doneydonedonedonedone! And I got a good grade. Much as I would like to say that I know I did my best and that's enough, that would be a lie. I need the acknowledgement. I feel knowing this is half the battle. I need it, I love it. I'm thrilled. I got a "Very Good/Outstanding". One could argue that this means I only got a "Very Good". One would be very churlish and mean to argue this point. Dude, I got an "Outstanding"! At least that's how it's going down in my memories.

Now I have three days to sleep before I start teaching. Holy crap!

Gainfully Employed!

Apparently this teaching lark is going to happen. I have two more weeks at my current placement, then I race like mad to complete my profile to prove I've met all of my requirements. Then... nothing. Holiday. Summer.

After summer I will start work at a lovely school in Plumstead. I know very little about Plumstead, but I do have an anecdote. When Buffy was very little I took her on the train to Bluewater shopping mall. On the way back she was enthralled by the computerised announcements on the train, "The next station is Abbey Wood. Please mind the gap." Each announcement only got more excited. We passed through Plumstead and the annoucement came on as usual, "The next station is Plumstead. Please mind the gap."

By then Buffy was in a frenzy. She clapped and cheered so loudly that the whole carriage heard her and laughed, "YAY, PLUMSTEAD!!!" I think it was probably the only time that statement has ever met with that reaction. No one really cheers Plumstead.

So that's where I'm off to in September. Cheery Plumstead. I am really going to be a teacher! I get my own batch of students, my own classroom to decorate, my own desk, my own walls. It's going to be awesome! So, yeah. Yay, Plumstead!

Not a Nightmare!

Phew! I had my observation on Monday, and it was definitely not a nightmare. Oh, there were some nightmarish moments, but nothing like my dream. No one walked out, I didn't pull any children's hair, and there was no crowd of teenaged boys jeering my every effort.

I taught an exhaustively planned lesson on nets. Not the fishing kind, but the two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional shapes. Basically, what you get when you open a box out flat. So, we did that. Lots of box opening and folding. My top group folded paper into a calendar dodecahedron with a month on each face. Very cool. Everyone else experimented with cubes. They were all engaged and the pace was really fast.

Following the lesson, my tutor found a quiet room to write "for twenty minutes". After twenty minutes she asked for twenty more minutes. I brought her a cup of tea, and she said she'd need a full hour total. Sheesh! What was she writing about? What had I done that required so much paperwork.

I knew she had my folders to pore over as well as the lesson. I knew these were in a shocking state. There were many things I hadn't even started writing up. With each additional "twenty minutes", I felt the mounting panic. What could she be writing? By the time she was finally ready to see me, I was a bundle of nerves.

She started by reviewing my lesson. She has no comments at this stage, she just recapped everything I'd done. She did mention the one point where I stopped the lesson to assess how the children were learning. She thought that was going to be the end of the entire lesson and was surprised to check her watch and realise we were far from done. At the end of the recap she heaved a sigh and said, "Phew! That was... intense."

I chose to take this as a compliment. My pace was fast, lots of ideas happened, the children tackled a huge project, and all wrapped up with a neat bow in under an hour. To their credit, the children tackled and conquered their projects. They were awesome. Well, most of them. Two boys were really acting up, but on the whole the kids were gorgeous.

As predicted my tutor said my paperwork was abysmal. It was. It still is a bit, to be frank. She flicked through and shook her head, "You're missing this, and this, and haven't even started this...!" She said technically she should record that I wasn't making the required progress, but it would have been churlish since she had no major comments on my teaching. I apologised, thanked her for her pointers and then delicately reminded her that I was a full three weeks behind everyone else as I'd had to find my own placement. She admitted she hadn't remembered that and cut me some slack.

On reflection I have decided I'd rather score high in my teaching than in my paperwork, so I'm happy. I'm really happy, actually. She'll come back in a few weeks to observe again, and I'll have all my paperwork up to date. There's so much to do! Sitting next to me is a stack of three job applications. Two of which need to be returned by Friday. As in they need to be in the post tomorrow. Not so sure that's going to happen! So much to doooooo!

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