Category Archives: Work

It Is Not Me; a teacher’s refrain

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I had a day today that was certainly not up there with the best. First it was period three, my second lesson with a new class in a subject that is out of my comfort zone, and then last period with a class that is 95% full of apathetic sacks of potatoes.

I try to pick engaging topics when I can, and when I can’t I try to deliver the content in ways that downplay how dull it is. I know it can be difficult to concentrate last period of the day, but the outright rudeness is absolutely astounding to me. My colleague who I share this particular class with (I take English and she does Humanities) came into the office at lunchtime saying “Diabolical. The year tens are diabolical.”
I of course have this class the very next period, so good news to me!  Continue reading It Is Not Me; a teacher’s refrain

Friday Five: Term 1 at a new school

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While my lovely year 12s are on the computers in the library, and I am taking a break from the bottomless pit that is my marking, I thought I would reflect on what I am grateful about on this, the last day of school.

Being at a new school I was nervous initially about fitting in, about getting back to upper school after a year immersed (and I mean IMMERSED) in lower school students. I didn’t know if I was good enough to teach alongside a “proper” English department (last year me and my colleague were pretty much ignored and alone in planning/reporting/assessing despite having three well-experienced English teachers at the school). I worried about my ability to handle challenging behaviour management issues and trying to keep my emotions in check while getting to know students.

I have loved my first term at my new school. The kids I teach (admittedly on the better side of our school’s standard) are for the most part wonderful, and even the most troublesome ones have never been malicious or nasty. The staff are amazing, greeting you happily whenever they see you and always checking that I am getting on okay. My English department is beyond amazing. The Head of Learning Area has been so kind and generous in making sure myself and E (fellow grad/newbie to the school) are getting all the help, opportunities and resources that we need. Colleagues are always willing to give advice on problem students, re-read assignments to help figure out grading and all around offering support.

The kids, especially my year 12s, have been beyond expectations. Here are a couple of my favourite moments from my kids this term.

  1. One of my years 12s A started playing music after we finished working one day, turned out to be one of my favourite songs EVER. Same thing happened the next lesson, and when he was in charge of the Friendship Week music playing at recess. It’s as if he has taken the playlists directly off my phone, and I listen to some pretty obscure and uncommon 90s and 2000s hip hop/R&B/rap/soul.
  2. Every Tuesday afternoon with my year 12s having to allocate 5-10 minutes at the end for “Walking Dead Talk.” It’s a lot of fun for me, but also as a teacher kind of funny seeing kids who claim they can’t do essays and have trouble analysing texts, spout off diatribes about who Negan killed and was Glenn really dead and look at the symbolism of certain props, characters, sounds and gestures. #everythingisenglish
  3. Assigning my year 8 ACE (academic achievement/extension) class autobiographies, and then reading them and learning so much about my kids. Also seeing some of the lesser engaged ACE kids pull out autobiographies of an insane level, well beyond what they appeared to be capable of. I say it all the time to kids; you write better when you are writing about what you know and love, and this assessment was perfect for my class in that regard.
  4. The moment at the start of the term when I assigned my ACE class homework to post on a discussion what their favourite books were, and upon reading the responses realising that I had a class that (mostly) loved to read and loved to read similar books to me. And when I took them to the library for silent reading for the first time and they sat reading for an hour, uninterrupted and silent. This is after a year of trying to do the same at my old school with rarely any success.
  5. Doing an in class essay with my year 10s, and while most of them couldn’t be f-ed doing anything, watching those who had done their notes and tried their hardest connect the dots and write their first essay. AND then reading the essay of my favourite year 10 F, who had impeccable notes and finished her essay in one lesson, and who wrote so lyrically about theme and the loss of innocence and characters, and linking to other texts. I literally clutched it to my chest when I say what she had written.

 

Hope you have a wicked last day of school teacher friends!

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Hottest Thanksgiving Ever

Long time no post (yet again…)

School is really kicking my arse at the moment, as well as an insane amount of personal drama of the “can’t believe this is happening to me” persuasion. BUT in great news I have a position for next year where I can start fresh and possibly get permanency (ah that golden word!) so I’ve been able to handle the work drama. I am very thankful for the help my principal gave me in getting the job, and so I thought in the spirit of American Thanksgiving I would list a few things I am thankful for right now.

  1. Marvel’s Jessica Jones. I know she’s not exactly the greatest role model but damn, she’s just awesome. More amazingly is how much I am astounded by David Tennant’s Kilgrave. He is really compelling as a villain and an amazing actor. I’m currently watching episode 8 (AKA WWJD?) and I just love it.
  2. Good friends. Malinda at work and Caro from decades of friendship keeping me sane, Coop coming home for the holidays, Rach getting her dream job, Mich being there for me when I needed it and most of all J for being everything I need and more.
  3. Water. Swimming keeps me sane and helps clear my head, and   though I’ve been dry of late I’m hoping to get back into it soon.
  4. Perth. With this weather and the amount of driving around I’ve done lately I’m falling more and more in love with my home town. I can’t wait until the school holidays so I can explore more of it with friends and family.

Back to reports for me now, I’m hideously overdue with them and trying my hardest to stay on track. I don’t know why I consistently do this, procrastinate and lose motivation for things that I know will benefit me and make me feel good in the long run. It’s getting real old real fast and I don’t know how to stop it.

Delightfully positive right? Hope you are having a good weekend.

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Party (appropriately) Time!

Hullo!

Me right now. Well not exactly, I’m still at school.

I can finally emerge from that dreaded teacher hibernation known as reports, as I have officially finished mine for the semester! made all the more difficult of course by my own procrastination in leaving myself piles and piles of marking, but I managed it and feel so so so SO much lighter as a result!

I had so many students who were working at an A or B level, but because they didn’t hand work in their grade was dragged down to a C or D, which is disappointing to me. BUT I do also get some satisfaction out of the look on their faces when they realise their laziness has in fact NOT worked out for them at all.

I thought I would share a couple of my comments for my advisory class. They have to be around 300 words and they are the kids I know best. These two are a male and female student on complete opposite ends of the spectrum, but I love them equally:

(Girl) is a creative and talented young lady who makes her passion for reading, writing and art known every day. I personally enjoy talking about books with her; it is heartening to see such a pure love for something so often taken for granted. Her involvement in cadets and the (company) project has allowed her to use her strengths to grow as a young person as well as for relationships that have been beneficial to her at school. (Girl) approaches her work with an individuality and surety that is rare for someone her age. While she completes all her work creatively and to a high standard, I would like to see her share that passion more within the classroom. (girl) gets along with everyone in advisory and though she expresses herself confidently in small peer groups, I would like to see her collaborate and cooperate with the class as a whole. At times (girl) does retreat into her work away from the collegial atmosphere of the class emerging when required. (girl) works well with others and has shown leadership across the year group. (girl) always seems prepared and if she isn’t she finds what she needs in order to complete her work.  She regularly organises her file into a neat, presentable state. I think that (girl) has the capacity to be successful in whatever field she decides to pursue. I think it will be up to her though to decide what she wants and to go after it 100 percent without letting anything get in the way.

And my other delightful cherub:

(Boy)has shown himself to be a very caring young man, always one of the first to want to help when one of his classmates is in distress. In one-on-one situations (Boy)has been able to communicate well with classmates, and I would like to see him work on forming strong relationship with everyone in class. I believe that once (Boy)finds something in common with someone, he is loyal to that and it allows him to relate to them in some small way. (Boy) had had some stumbles this year so far but what I so admire about him is his resilience and his eagerness to be at school no matter what. With his individualised program continuing to be developed, I think that (Boy)will be able to find things at school to work on and be proud of. When it comes to class work (Boy)relies heavily on guidance from teachers and mentors to complete his work and stay on task. (Boy)can be a polite, helpful and co-operative member of Advisory and the year cohort at times.  However, sometimes he engages in behaviour that is hurtful toward others.  This behaviour has decreased somewhat but he still can try to eliminate it all together to keep his reputation as a positive and helpful person intact. I enjoy talking to (Boy)and getting to know his passions. I think there are many opportunities for (Boy)at a school like (school) and I am excited to help him pursue them. Ultimately though it comes down to him putting in the effort to focus and communicate his needs and concerns. He has started to show that he is able to do this in small stints, the more we work on this the more successes I believe (Boy)will have at school.

I genuinely love these kids, and desperately wish I could teach them again next semester. Fingers crossed!!

Love,
Andrea

Holiday Reading and Educating

My Goodreads challenge (of reading 100 books in 2014) currently sits on 76, meaning I have just under three months to read 24 books. If you know me in the slightest, you will know that this is a very achievable feat. My new job as an English teacher means that not only do i have access to an absolute plethora of texts (my reaction to being shown the book room: Why yes, I can see a use for these *drooooling*) but I also need to be sure to stay current and diversify my reading choices. So when school holidays came a callin’, I packed my school bag not just with marking and planning, but also what I believe is known as a “buttload” of books:

Pictured/on my list:

  • The Monogram Murders – Sophie Hannah
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (currently reading)
  • Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn (not pictured but just finished read, and OH My GOOOD I love it)
  • Batavia’s Graveyard – Mike Dash
  • The Thebean Plays – Sophocles
  • Blackrock – Nick Enright
  • Macbeth
  • Stone Cold – Robert Swindells
  • The Old Man And The Sea – Ernest Hemingway
  • About A Boy – Nick Hornby
  • Rumble Fish – S. E. Hinton

Some of you may think “Happy Potter? Some diversifying missy!” and you would be right; however I am reading these (mostly) when my class is in the library doing silent reading, modelling successful reading practices to kids who would rather be on their phones.

I love going to the library for reading, and I’m very proud of the fact that I have recommended books to some of my years tens successfully (thank you Matthew Reilly!). Being a new teacher I feel like I’m still filled with a large amount of idealism and naivety about how much of an impact I can have. I get a lot of satisfaction from watching kids reading, and even more so from talking to them about their books. One of my year 11 boys is full of energy, a handful when he wants to be, and yet very sweet and helpful. He gets through a Half Blood Prince-sized book nearlly every day, according to his teacher from last year, and he is the last person who anyone would expect to be pestering me to go to the library, and yet he does! Just one of the things I love about my job, seeing that love and overwhelming appetite for reading in kids that I teach.

One more week of holidays left (not long enough), but I can’t wait to get back. I teach one class each of years 9-11, and am picking up the top year 11 class in about a month when my colleague goes on holiday. So far my broad plans for them are: Year 9: Introduction to Shakespeare (using an episode of Doctor Who and Macbeth, being a class of all but 3 girls), Year 10: Sports as a genre of film and books, starting with Friday Night Lights and touching on rite of passage and creative writing, Year 11: Comic books and superheroes, exploring the moral identities and representations in the genre.

Any advice is well welcome, as well as any thoughts on my holiday reading! Teachers out there,  what text types would you use with classes that are 95% male? My previous experience has been exclusively girls, so I have been struggling a little with what to engage the boys with. Hope you had a great weekend!

 

Love,
Andrea