Monday, 8 September 2008

Things I have learned

Thank you BCIB, you rock my world.
I had an awful gut feeling about this Abortion Bill bruhaha and you've articulated what I haven't had the brain-space or knowledge to say (or possibly the nance to research properly): its a crock. The angst about late-term abortion is completely disproportionate to its presence in society. It would be like the US banning Australians because Phillip Island has drugs. I wish I had enough energy to do something more. Will I have enough energy to provide a diplomatic, amoral response to my students when they ask what its all about during our discussions about democratic processes..? Will I flinch and wonder if their parents understand what's going on...

The energy for this post, however, is fall out from previous whining. I found BCIB's thoughts when hoeing into my feeds and I was sill itchy after lamely nyer-ing at the Melbourne Herald Sun about their inflammatory, misleading, old-white-man title for an article that says no such thing: Too stoned to study. Even the online title - while less rude - isn't even that indicative. Not only that, the article isn't news, isn't cute, isn't new - and it with two supporting articles filled 3/4 of a page in today's paper. Barrel scraping, HS; weak. (I even emailed MediaWatch asking if there's some sort of threshold for article/title relationships. When I'm old, I plan on writing letters about the stamps that are too small for my bad eyes. I practice now.)
Are titles created by another department at the HS? They're two kliks away from bolding all the nouns. Hacks.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

No I'm not dead...

...just teaching. It's a busy job.
Rather than say 'more later' here's a bit now...

I thought most teachers I knew voted against the new agreement but no, they didn't. Hmmm. Disappointing. Although I got a raise - which I could do without BTW - what I have now is an inconvenience: Our curriculum days are ALL prescribed, with three of them using the first three days of Term 1.
Whole staff training would need to happen on one of these prescribed days, rather than a day that suits our school.
Whole staff training that needs a trainer or incursion would also need to be organised for one of these days. Schools will have to compete with each other to getthe trainers for one of these three days. That is, all the government primary schools will have to compete with each other to get someone in this 3-day window. head-desk

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Go ing in sa ane

OK. I've recorded the 37 grades for each of my 29 students. Used way too much deliberation, and was probably too generous.

I've done comments about their achievements, areas for improvmeent and what is coming for 17.3 students.

I've just started to tip over the edge.

On Friday I was giddy with denial about how much I had to do. Yesterday, with only 3 students' comments done, I sat in this chair from 8-6 and again from 8-11 and beat the crap out of another batch. Since I began teaching my brain has been waking me up about 7:30-8am, but today it slacked off and got me up at 9:30 ish. Four hours later - with 11.6 students' comments to go - and I think I can see a teeny tiny sparkle somewhere on the horizon. But its on the otherside of crazy.

Seriously; I'm wiggling in my chair bw each set of comments going "ee elaa, laa, laaa, bup-bummm, mmmm". And there's no escape. I have to sit here till I get this Done. And then I need to proofread the lot before I descend into the kind of nutty that goes with reading screens in poor lighting after daylight.

Tomorrow I'll be giddy with report-writing-freedom and panic from a lack of planning for the coming week.

Go ahead. Tell me how I brought it upon myself.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Progressive Points

I'm doing reports. See last post.

In the English domain there are three dimensions to assess: Reading, Writing and Speaking & Listening.
In the Communication domain there are two dimensions: Listening, viewing & responding and Presenting...

Guess which English dimension overlaps with both Communication dimensions? I could make a big fat Venn diagram of how LV&R practically doubles-up with the listening elements of L&S and how Presenting doubles up with the speaking elements.

WHY there isn't more separation bw them I don't know.
Why they don't have a single communication dimension what is only about the bits that don't overlap, I don't know.
And why they don't just rename English as Literacy and consolidate Communication with that, I cannot begin to explain (though I could have a good stab at it).
But it's frikkin shirting me no end.

And while I'm at it, thank you VCAA for requiring Year 5 & 6 teachers to assess against the entire curriculum. It's awesome to have to vouch for all this knowledge and all these skills while safely delivering 29 students to high school. Cheers.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Almost an update

I've finally caught a cold, after about half the staff at my primary school. It was bound to happen eventually.

So last week, in my 13th week of teaching, I just felt like I was getting traction with my class; just beginning to be able to get my hands around what I was teaching them and being able to identify positive returns.
And then people started talking about reports.
I've got 29 students, and each of them need a mark from me about 33 subject elements (33 dimensions under 13 domains, in the jargon.) If I was sending to post secret it would say something like "I'm scared that I'll have to guess about half of the grades for all my students. I feel sick when I know I'm lying". But I know I'm not alone - we haven't yet addressed some of these things so will properly mark them next semester; some of these things we cannot fit in. (I certainly can't - I'm still figuring out what makes sense to most of my students, with children and teenagers within the mix.)
I suspect it will be years before I can expertly wrangle in all the knowledge they're to receive and the skills I need to observe. Of course, the Dept. has most likely created a framework within which all this would work, but - of course - no school follows a dept. framework; they have their own inquiry schedule or something fancier. And of course my school is going for the IBO, which is a whole other kettle of international fish. (Hopefully, by the time I figure out how to address all this, I'll be good enough at it that I can cope with the chance in curriculum.)


In other news, I got engaged and turned 30.

Must call my mum.

Friday, 25 April 2008

My Anzac Day post

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

My Efforts

Please, enjoy, vote, comment, bag, etc

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Another Box Ticked

I've been to 4 Hen's nights and last night I went to my first with strippers.


My first memory is of the Bride and her maids signing the release form. Then of the other dozen Brides and their maids making their way to the aisle seats.

And then they introduced The Premise.
The Premise - which seems to be present in most porn too - is whatever reason they think of to contextualise and justify the need to strip. (Watch as I deftly intellectualise this experience.) Our performance was about these brothers - nay, Princes - who had been kept virginal by their tyrannical father, The King, and were apparently/understandably bursting at the seams. But NOW (oh blessed day) the King had died, and the brothers were FREE! They were making the most of the occasion.
The eldest brother - the New King - did the MCing.

The MC cycled through referring to us as maids, virgins, wenches and goddesses and as a result I was very confused about myself. In the beginning I laughed and laughed - the set up was so painful, with guys walking down the aisles in monk robes, lots of temple images, very Excalibur, and all the guys named The Prince of Lust, The Prince of Temptation, The Prince of Seduction (an impressive title for a virgin) etc. And the MC had a weird Father-of-Robbie-Williams look about him.

But once they got into the dancing, and passed the premise, it was much more fun and easier to stomach. They had the Brides-To-Be up on stage alone or in pairs or fours and would seat them on chairs as they danced around - at one stage asking a few BTB to dance for them. They found the women who had been married longest and asked them to make some penises out of plasticine (one quite promising and the other more like a bowl, which was explained with "It's Italian") There was a guessing game and a fair bit of blindfolding.
Most promising were the referential performances: Dirty Dancing (no lift, mind you), Grease and Sex in the City remakes - even the poor token black man (great dancer) having to do African themed stuff (imaginatively named the 'Prince of Darkness'). Plus some excellent song choices such as Baby Did A Bad Bad thing.
More painful was the (un)surprising Robbie Williams mimed-cover from the MC (who would've thought?) and the 'bathing' at the end. By that stage a friend and I were up the back dancing away and getting the last of the drinks before the venue opened up for regular patrons.

Soon enough I was clapping too.
Come ON! All that dancing for over a hundred women and only two bouncers is pretty keen. And they were clearly nice guys doing the job; very supportive and forgiving when the BTBs or whoever declined or got too nervous. Also, I think I had been desensitised a little by our Bride's paraphernalia*.
All the dancers seemed older than us (although I'm betting a few weren't) which was comforting for some reason, and they showed a good sense of humour about the whole thing, even when the drunken women (not even a BTB!) got herself up on stage and had to be escorted off by the bouncers (who, by the way, were very entertaining to watch as they watched us.)

So we danced away for a few hours afterwards and I didn't feel any dirtier than when I went in.
Well, a little.

*One penis shaped whistle; two Hen's Night sashes (one with blinking lights); three penis shaped balloons tied to her waist; one tiara; one headband with two sparkly, flashing penis-and-balls on springs which also had a condom-laden veil attached; and one double-ended dildo (named Ernest & Clive).

Saturday, 26 January 2008

When am I ever gunna use this Miss?

When you become a teacher, it turns out.

My mentor and I are getting 'new' classrooms (new to the school, not the world) and as such we have to set them up for Day 1 using skills someone people may never use after Grade 5. The New Year means we have to divide up the stationery amongst all the Year 5 and 6 classes (insert division, multiplication and tetris (spatial) skills here).
So after the EWBs, shelves, cupboard, filing cabinets, PCs, desks and chairs have all been put in I have to figure out an arrangement that fits all 29 children at a desk and able to see me... (insert tessellation skills here, and a bit of common sense because you have to leave room for them to move their chairs and no back onto anyone).
We even tried rearranging the PC tables into something more conducive to team work - cable length and access are a challenge (measurement and tetris).
And then there's the 'getting people to do things for you" skill: diplomacy, hard to teach.

Otherwise, I'm sorta treading water in these lead-up days. I have the first 2 weeks pretty much mapped out and am extremely grateful that my first week is only 3 days (and should for the next few years :D ). I cannot begin to imagine what I'll teach them in the following month*, but I know the 2nd and 3rd weeks are interrupted with daily swimming anyway, not to mention the Chinese, Art, PE and Performing Arts lessons with other teachers... So my brain has sort of slipped into neutral.
Normally I would be frantic with preparation, making lessons, plans, templates, worksheets, anything to fall back on, but I don't really know what my guys are capable of yet, or what they need... so I'm waiting to see. My stress hsa sunken deep and dormant under naivety, or stupid, or whatever: I think its going to bubble up in about 10 days, with reinforcements, as I begin to have to think of stuff for them to do. But I'm a beginner, and these kids are bright - I'm not bad enough to do any long term damage - so I think I'll be ok in the long run, if not satisfactory. Which I will tattoo on myself somewhere: "I am a competent person"

*which isn't true. I've imagined lots, but I'm not game to commit to it until I've met/measured the class. I don't know if this is normal or sensible.

Nice Find

Reminds me of the Gnomes' Business Plan...

And I love that - as noted by the sender-innerer - it looks like girl's handwriting. with a heart next to the sex! Aaaw.

From FOUND Magazine

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Thursday, 17 January 2008

The Intelligence Rainbow

From the Age letters...

HOW is a potential teacher with an ENTER score of 56 going to have the capacity to teach students who may be capable of an ENTER score of 99?

Pauline Ashton, Maribyrnong

Hmm. Gee Pauline, I suspect it might be the 4 years of tertiary education - and its compulsory professional practice and assessment - that might give your average teacher the edge on your average VCE student.

I'm almost too angry to answer this one. But if Pauline, and the rank of muppets who'll reply in support of this, had half a clue about

  1. ENTER scores, how they're calculated and what they're for, OR
  2. The VCE and what you need to do it; OR
  3. Teaching and what you need to do it,

then they wouldn't even get so far as signing their names on this type of cringe-worthy, forehead smacking, teeth-sucking, gawking stupidity.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

On Losing Weight

I feel I should update those tenacious few who read this blog (Mr Larry Pants, you've been there for me since kindy).

I got a job teaching grade 6 in the eastern suburbs (govt P-6 school). Oh migod. I'm nervous, excited, and nervous: by all accounts it sounds like a school that on par with many private providers - lots of the kids are at least 12 months ahead in maths and literacy, they're keen kids with lots of self efficacy and awareness. The greatest challenge shoudl be keeping them challenged.
My mentor is excellent. And I don't mean "All things considered, she really is quite good". I mean "I feel guilty when I'm in her presence; I should be a better person than this". She's nice, professional, thorough, patient, doesn't say more than is necessary, gets along with everyone (everyone) and seems to epitomise integrity. Already, in almost two days of planning, I feel I've talked too much about stupid or irrelevant things, pointlessly banged my drum, and generally therapied my way through a few conversations. I cringe -Cringe - in recollection.
BUT, if I keep my head on and start acting like someone I'd be proud of, I think I'll have a good year. I've already got a few suggestions in the works and they seem to have been received well. Conversely, everyone is nicer than me, so I'll probably be forgiven.

So yeah, I could worry about getting enough exercise but I don't think it'll be an issue.

In other news, we bought a car. I loves it, even if it is a bit big for my first. Its a 2000 Nissan Pulsar, 4door, 5sp manual, 1.8L with driver airbag, electric side mirrors, manual windows and a CD player (yes, I did the research for this purchase, so am quite well versed in the jargon). AND its the prettiest blue ever!

AND, I'm going to be a bridesmaid for a very sensible bride. The wedding is in November and she's already confirmed the ceremony and reception locations. Buying the dress has been pretty fun (although not actually purchased though) and has provided the perfect example of how you shouldn't let a shop assistant determine if you buy something of not, especially something like a wedding dress. In the following recount, I play the bad cop.
Bride: "Do you know what other colours it comes in?"
Assistant: "No, I'd have to call and find out"
Me: "That'd be good to know please"
We chat, assistant stares.
Assistant: "So, you do want to know about the other colours? I'm going to have to call..."
Pause from us.
Me: "Yes please"
Assistant walks away to make the call.
Me to Bride:"Which part was unreasonable?"
Me: Do you have a hoopless petticoat we could try with this one?
Assistant: "I think we have one but I don't know where it is."
Me: "Would you mind seeing if someone else knows, because I think it'll make a lot of difference."
I mean, really.

Me hairz: an update

It's about Day 28 of what I'm now calling my detox period. My hair hasn't changed much in the last week or so. My fingers didn't peel for very long at all, so I'm hoping they stay strong through the next transition period: organic shampoo.

This isn't any ordinary shampoo people. It's not even the kind that has 'natural' in the name, like many supermarket shampoo tarts. It's from a proper organic product shop and I found it online in an organic haircare review. And that's the limit of my research into this type of issue.

So bye-bye my strong slightly oily hair; bye-bye slightly longer showers with lots of combing; hello $14 per bottle shampoo and a deep, desperate hope that you're the shampoo for me.

I'm so sick of caring.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Can I survive without shampoo?

I found this article ages ago and it tweaked my curiosity.

Traditionally I've washed my hair everyday. Too oily, yuck.
Then, sometime last year, I shifted to every 2nd day and my hair seemed to cope with that ok.
Then I changed to 'natural' shampoos on the (persistent) recommendation of my hairdressers. Apparently, supermarket bought shampoos leave a 'film' that 'weighs down' your hair and is essentially 'evil'.

So I started on on expensive 'natural' shampoo and started to get a little acne on my temples and back. oh yey. Seems to happen every time I go to natural products.
Then I changed to a shampoo for oily hair based on , again, hairdresser recommendation.
[Tangent: this is the ONLY shampoo for oily hair I could find. It used to be that there would be an equal amount of shampoos for 'dry', 'normal', 'oily' and 'normal to oily' hair types. Not so these days. Apparently we've all evolved into normal and dry hair types. I suppose they'll blame air conditioning.]

However, I am now at day 16 of my own 'no shampoo' experiment. I have long, fine, dense hair and I haven't shampooed it since Dec 20. Every day I use a fine toothed comb in the shower to wash out dirt and 'encourage' the oil throughout the length of the hair.

Around day 9 we went swimming in the bay - very salty and I had that classic bay-water hair for a few days. Read: salty and not smooth.

Day 11 saw 'stuff' in my comb. I'm not sure if this was fall out from the salt-water swim, as its diminishing now, but it feels like oil/sweat. I'm trying not to get grossed out.

I've carefully scheduled this for my summer holidays, but its so hot I'm not blow drying my hair for anyone. Consequently, I put my hair up to mask the oiliness and it never really dries in the midddle. Also, I'm expecting to be seen by important-people-who-are-still-forming-opinions/impressions-about-me around Monday week, so I need a result/decision soon.

Will my hair turn out like this lucky Briton's?
Well, even when I get sick of this, or it actually balances out (which I'm betting it won't because its only the 'dry haired' people who benefited from the experiment of the article) there are many more fun and interesting ways to avoid shampoo, but none of them describe going more than one day without washing, which cancels out my first objective which was: to have less work. Hmph.