Sunday, May 04, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Week

[Blogger tells me this is my 700th blog post. Wowser. Slow progress the last few years to get there but still a place I like to call home.]

Earlier today Lesley posted a video because it's Teacher Appreciation Week. From the video I've decided that's an American thing. Singapore has Teachers' Day in September when I got the day off. Way to make us feel appreciated Singapore! Singapore also has Youth Day…when I also got the day off (see last paragraph in this post). Wikipedia says that the UK has it (October 5 teacher friends) I wouldn't hold my breath, I've yet to see any sign of it.

But watching the video was nice because on Friday I had a lovely day. I had my final class with my senior class. I just taught them this year but regard them as my 'all stars' because they were so great. They made me a present which was worth way more than anything they could have bought me: a book full of photos and memories from teaching them.

It was actually really similar to the book my favourite class in Singapore made for me too and even though it's seven years ago in an entirely different type of school in a different country, there are signs of me being exactly the same sort of teacher…if their letters and comments are to be believed anyway.

One of the things I did with both classes (and schools) is a quote wall. Here are two of my favourite quotes with them. Both made it into their respective books.

Miss B.: (writing on the board, stops mid-sentence and turns to the class) How do you spell 'disastrous'? I think I spelt it wrong. 
C: I think you spelt 'illiterate' wrong as well.

That one made it to this blog post if you're interested. Probably not, I just like to back reference. And then this one from this year.

F: Aww Miss, is that a mince pie?
Miss B: Yeah!
F: Aww I love them!
A: Another reason to be vegetarian…
F: It's not real mince!
A: Stop! I've never eaten them because of that!
J: Can we get back to the exam please?

But the video got me thinking, what would I write to myself on my first say of being a teacher. (Actually, my very first day of being a teacher was in 2005 in the school I work in now. 'Now' makes it sound like I plan on leaving - I don't. Ever.)

Anyway, this is what I have. Not profound, but helpful all the same I think.

Dear Teacher Tina,
I know, you're actually a teacher! You did it. Don't worry, even nine years later you won't feel like you've got this game together yet. But here's the weird thing, you manage to pull it together. I know, sometimes it's like you know what you are doing.

In a few years' time you'll have to write your educational philosophy for a job application (I'll save you the worry: you don't get the job). But I'll boil our philosophy right down for you: I'm on your team; be on my team. You will teach the class as an entire entity, a unit. You won't allow for inside jokes but you will definitely laugh with your classes. A lot. Sometimes at the expense of work. You should probably try not to do that so much. There's a unofficial rule in teaching not to be sarcastic with students. Ignore that. Third years love it.

You'll like (almost) every single student you teach, even if they don't like History or Politics (or you!) and you'll work with some brilliant teachers. You'll be rubbish at marking. In fact, even as I write this letter to you now, I have a pile of essays waiting to be marked plus a whole lot of other planning to do for Tuesday. But you'll be able to start a lesson explaining something you only have the vaguest notion of when you began talking (you might want to start reading up on the English Civil War now, you know, get a head start).  

Keep going through the roughest days of teaching, because every now and then, the best days come along. And when they do, there's not a job in the world that can touch teaching.

God speed Miss B.
Love and best wishes, 
Miss B.

PS One more thing to save yourself considerable embarrassment, when you're teaching the Third Home Rule Bill c.2008 call him Andrew Bon-ner Law, not how it looks you might say it. You're welcome.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Executive lady teacher

There's an article in the Sunday Times Style magazine today about how, according to one OFSTED inspector, 'scruffy teachers are letting the side down'.

Not me though - as the only reason I know about this article is because Jud texted me to tell me she'd identified me as Executive Lady Teacher.

I love a pencil skirt, me.

 This is how they describe Executive Lady Teacher:
This ambitious woman favours terrifying angled spectacles and haircuts so sharp, you could use them in a geometry lesson. She has a power-dressing work uniform - with its own colour-coded area of the wardrobe - with fitted dresses, tailored skirts and smart jackets (which can all go in the washing machine). Kitten heels are her secret weapon. Her only concession is a weakness for arty earrings.
I'm not so sure that I'm an 'ambitious woman'. And my haircut is definitely not one that could be used in a geometry lesson. Unless they were measuring the angles of hair caught in the bird's nest. Of course I have a colour-coded area of the wardrobe (actually it's just one wardrobe for work clothes). Well, what's the point in having these sorts of clothes if they don't hang with their suit family? I don't really wear kitten heels, but low(er) heels? Sometimes. Although, I'm not sure how they're my 'secret weapon'. I don't go in for arty earrings. And neither should any Executive Lady Teachers if they're wearing glasses as they'll compete with one another. Duh.

Jud once told me that if she wore what I wore to school, her colleagues would think she was trying to seduce someone!

But I think that tells us more about her work colleagues than mine!

Monday, March 17, 2014


I've missed a couple of weekend posts but nobody seems to be complaining, so I'll not mention it if you won't.

I've had a couple of busy weeks. When aren't they? But working full-time and then at weekends does take it out of you. Two weekends ago I was on a school trip to Wesley for MUN. That was exciting because I got to drive a SUV…an automatic one! And there were lots of cup holders, which we all know is the most important thing in a car.

Last weekend was Soul Mates. Busy again as ever but a different sort of busy. I actually was able to duck out for a few hours to visit the SU weekend so it was nice to see those guys too.

The drive took me right over the Mournes and places I've only ever dreamt of. No really. 

There's two place names in NI that I think are the prettiest: Gracehill and Katesbridge. My brother used to live not far from Gracehill but I'd never been any closer to Katesbridge than the sign on the way to Newry (up there with the ugliest NI place names surely. Along with any place you care to name in Co. Tyrone, which surely has more per capita than any other county.)

A wrong turn and suddenly I found myself in Katesbridge! And let me tell you, it needs a pretty name because it doesn't have much else going for it. Much like Gracehill in that respect, I suppose.

Next I was through Rathfriland. Which I sometimes gets confused with Randalstown. Yes, legally different names but it's the Ra start and land/town end that does it. Rathfriland is famous (to me at least) for being home to NI21 MLA John McCallister, one of our few MLAs with a spark of personality.

 I'd never been to Rathfriland before either so it was exciting to see the water tower (if that's what it is).
But all too soon I was out of Rathfriland and on to my next small town of South Down: Hilltown. Now coming from Rathfriland, which must be a cyclist's nightmare and dream all in one because of the hill it's on, I was excited. If Rathfriland's hill didn't even make it to its name (in English at least) then Hilltown's hill must be spectacular. How wrong could I be?! There's was nothing more than a mild incline. I'd say we could get them on the Trade Descriptions Act. Let me know if you want to join my class action suit. There could be literally units of disappointed tourists like me every year, going to Hilltown expecting to see, you know, a hill.

What I did see was better though. This sign was just casually on a telegraph pole beside a shed, which was closed. (I stopped to take its picture on the way back, it intrigued me so much.)
'Eating potatoes'? What other sort of potatoes are there? Or does Hilltown just put up signs of various activities? You know 'playing chess', 'watching TV', 'making tea', that sort of thing?
After I past the sights of Hilltown (see above photo) I was through the Mournes properly.

It was all a bit Colorado. There was even a few hair pin turns!
One of my favourite historical stories about the partition of Ireland is Edward Carson's plan to build reservoirs in the Mournes to supply Belfast's water so that when the Boundary Commission met they couldn't redraw the border there because it could only be so far as the 'economic and geographic conditions' were compatible. Sneaky/clever depending on your perspective.

What?! Spelga Dam is on a hill. Duh.
The way back was largely uneventful, but I did make a stop in Hilltown to get a drink. 

I wouldn't be surprised but there's a sign outside the Spar saying 'Drinking Coke' now.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

To my chief motivator

Hi Chris,
This post will be removed when I get a chance to blog properly. It was a busy weekend and I still have those essays to mark from last week (see earlier busy weekend statement). I'm hoping for tomorrow, but well, you know…

With kind regards and warmest wishes,

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

And the Nokia Whatever10 Photojournalism Award goes to...

I got called out again. Ever keen Chief Motivator (apparently this is better than cheerleader) Chris noticed that I didn't blog this weekend. So here I am. However Chris, if you could ask me around 11.30pm how I got on with the 80 or so essays sitting on the kitchen table waiting to be marked that'd be good too.

But first a blog. The kids mightn't get their essays back, but Chris will get a blog post. He suggested, helpfully I add, a photo and a comment underneath it. I take photos on my phone all the time of things I see. These are mostly for Twitter but never make it, so I looked back to see what I had.

This story was in the Belfast Telegraph at the weekend.

I didn't even get to read about Tyra Banks.
It was the story about the kids in the Odyssey fights. This piqued my interest because of the Hardwell gig the other week. Some of my students were at it so I was interested to see what this one was all about. It was at the darts apparently. But then this took over any interest in the story: the picture…on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph, 'NI's daily newspaper' and winner of the UK's best regional newspaper 2012 (so says Wikipedia).

Well you say camera footage. I say more like Monet's impressionist version of what might have happened. It involved shapes and colours.
Seriously, the only person who took any pictures was using a Nokia 7610 c.2005 with a whopping 1MP resolution and that's what you decided to put on the front page?! Really? Really?! I'm as much for an outrage involving kids and fighting as the next person but this might have been the time to hold off on using a 'camera footage' on the front freaking page. You know, let the words tell the story.

So you're darn tootin' I went to P11 for full story. There might be more 'camera footage'.

I was right!

Oh stop. Four pictures showing the 'footage of people fleeing'. So you say. Are we absolutely sure they aren't sonograms…from the 1990s?
 No bloody wonder the online version of the story doesn't have any photos.
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