Monday, August 25, 2014

U...who now?

Megann and I Facetimed tonight. It's been a couple of weeks since we talked, and to be honest I wondered what we have ever talked about and how we've remained friends as long as we have.

Let me explain.

In catching up on news, Megann asked how the Commonwealth Games were. Being American, she knows them as the non-American Olympics.

I replied and said they were great and that I got to see Usain Bolt again. (Third summer in a row...I knoooow!)

Megann: [blank face, nearly like she was still waiting for an answer]
Tina: We saw Usain Bolt!
Megann: [straight face] Who?
Tina: Usain Bolt! Bolt! Can you hear me?
Megann: It's working. I just don't know who that is.
Tina: WHAT?! YOU DON'T KNOW WHO USAIN BOLT IS?! The sprinter?! He's won the Olympics...twice!
Megann: I haven't seen the Olympics in ages. [She works at a summer camp in northern Michigan.]
Tina: But he's the most famous athlete at them! You must have heard of him!
Megann: We just see how the American athletes do. 
Tina: But he's in the 100m. Americans are in that!
Megann: Nope. Never heard of him. It's a good name for a sprinter, Bolt.

We laughed all the way through this and then about this for a while. I urged Megann to get our quote book, which includes all our greatest quotes (classics like the condo rep at Breckenridge asking when we stayed in Steamboat did we have an apartment or a suite) to write this one down.

As Megann wrote the quote down, she further proved she'd never come across Usain Bolt before, as she asked how to spell his name.

I spelt it for her and as we continued to laugh about it, I compared it to never having heard of Roger Federer. 


Oh stop. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Happy Wedding Day

Chris and Steph (but more particularly Chris),
You got married today and so I thought I'd mark the occasion by blogging. I know, there's not a wedding present in the land you'd rather have. Well Chris, you are my biggest cheerleader (or whatever more manly title you gave yourself). I tried to blog a bit this year (helped greatly with your encouragement) but ran out of steam in about April. I didn't even blog on my birthday which is a key date in my year. I'm sure that just makes this small token on your wedding day even more special. I know, you're welcome.

I should use the opportunity to tell you some sort of Princess-esque story from my summer rather than just pointing out that which you already know: you got married and I haven't really blogged since April.

Here are my highlights:
- This summer I went to Dubai and Glasgow so it was a summer of contrasts. Dubai was hot but the sun shone and that's what we went for. In Glasgow too, the sun shone…and then it rained…and then it was sunny…and then it rained…
- I read a book this summer. This is noteworthy because I don't really read books. I read enough with school and Twitter, thank you very much. But this summer, by the pool (in Dubai, in case that wasn't obvious) I read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, a biography of Louie Zamperini, an American athlete who became a bombardier during the Second World War and was taken as a Japanese POW after his plane crashed. Not exactly a light read but a brilliant story.
- I marked. Ugh. You know my feelings on that. Especially when the funniest answer I got was someone calling it Fianna Foal. I know; you can only raise a half smile to that sort of error.
- In Glasgow I saw some of the Commonwealth Games, even expanding my live sport repertoire to weightlifting and gymnastics. If anything's in it I preferred the weightlifting. But also saw athletics, track cycling, swimming and netball.
- I made a small guest appearance at CHW on Wednesday and Thursday. Seemed only right when I'd organised the seminars to show up for them. It didn't rain when I was there, which was pleasing.

So that's it. Today is the last day of summer so thanks for allowing me to go out on a high tonight. Few people, aside from teachers, can understand the pain of 'back to work blues' the last night of your six week holidays...

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.
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