Expectations Versus Reality

I finished my writing course this week. I now officially have a Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing although I have yet to receive my results.

I have found it odd though. I think I expected it to be a bigger deal. You know, a big CONGRATULATIONS!!! with balloons popping all over my student page on the computer screen or something.

But nope. I just submitted my final assignment task on Monday night. It was assessed on the Monday (not that I knew it) and I found out on the Tuesday. There will be no ‘graduation ceremony’ to look forward to. There are no other students to catch up with and ask ‘How did you go?’ or ‘What do you plan to do next?’ It’s just been really quiet and just… done. And kind of ‘oh…’

What I have learnt over the last 18 months though is:

  • like having projects to work on.
  • I will work away on projects for long periods of time when I can see that there is a benefit or end in sight.
  • Writing is an outlet and has possibly kept me sane whilst I continue to teach.
  • I can spot good a narrative and say why it is good and why I like it, but writing a good narrative is really hard.
  • Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction – people are amazing and sometimes real life stories cannot even be imagined.
  • Everyone has a story.

Now that I have had my ‘oh…’ moment, it’s time to dream and plan again. I’m looking forward to finding out what’s next.

How have expectations and reality worked out for you? I’d love to hear your answers.

 

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What a Student Taught Me

As a teacher, I can be surprised by things my students say or do. This term, one of my students taught me something and I’d like to share it with you.


 

Daniel* entered my class, a student with large saucer eyes. He was a second termer or exiting student as we call them. Off to mainstream at the end of his time with me.

He should have been speaking more English. But he wasn’t. He either couldn’t or didn’t know how. I was perplexed: Did he have a learning issue or was he just incredibly shy? I referred him as ‘being at risk of not making progress’ to the Student Welfare Co-ordinator. She just followed up with home routines, made sure he was going to bed on time.

When reading with me, Daniel would seek reassurance after almost every word. Maybe he was scared to make mistakes? What had happened? Why was he so nervous? His volume would drop and I would remind him to ‘Read with a big voice’.

But when he read with his Reading Buddy, he would shine and the words would come out clearly and confidently. I would sneak past on my way round the room and marvel at the difference.

Daniel was paired up with his Reading Buddy to perform a Jazz Chant for the class. I was hoping I hadn’t set him up to fail. I need not have worried. He rose to the occasion and did well because he had such a supportive partner. The other students recognized this as a huge achievement for him.

I know his Reading Buddy and partner did not like working with him. She told me in a survey about reading. However, I don’t think she realized what a gift she gave him in her steadiness and modeling of language.

I learnt from Daniel to be persistent – to not give up. I also realized how powerful co-operative learning can be when students support each other.

And now Daniel talks.

 

*Not his real name.


What has a student/patient/or client taught you recently? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

What are you Enjoying?

What are you enjoying right now?

For me, the world can be such a noisy place. There is so much to do, so much to listen to, so much to take in. It is Overload with a capital O.

It can be overwhelming or simply that there is no time to just ‘be’.

There are two things that I have just started doing which I didn’t realise I would enjoy as much as I do.

I have significantly reduced my Facebook time.

OK, for some people this is no biggie. But for me, checking it maybe once a week or even only every few days has drastically reduced the amount of ‘noise’ in my head. I feel calmer, less anxious and I’ve discovered that there is a lot more time to do other things. Sigh. Who would have thought?

I have turned off the radio in the car.

A whole 25 minutes of silence in the car as I drive to work and then another 25 minutes of silence on the way home – bliss! I know this is not everyone’s idea of fun, but to be able to daydream, think, plan or listen to podcasts has been another way to reduce the overload of ‘noise’ in my life. I reserve the right to turn on the radio again at a later date.

What are you enjoying in life right now?

 

Winter break and my first article published!

So, I’ve just had my first piece ever published in the Education Review.

To say I’m excited is an understatement.

Collectively, our school is limping towards the holidays. Thankfully they start tomorrow. The teachers are exhausted and many are sick. The students are besides themselves stupid and many can’t contain their emotions. Fights are more common and so is misbehaviour. It is the worst time of the year with going into winter to have an 11 week term. Term four is also a long term with 11 weeks. Don’t get me started on that one. We finish only a few days before Christmas.

I shall be enjoying my ‘down time’ but also racing towards completing my writing course.

Until next time.

 

How to Procrastinate like a Teacher – in 12 Easy Steps

Let’s face it – we all do it.

Procrastinate.

It’s the art of delaying or putting off something until it has to be done – now!

For me it is report writing. I hate writing reports and as I have to write reports every term, that makes for a lot of procrastinating in a year. Because our students achieve very similar things each term, their reports are all pretty much the same.

And it becomes very tedious.

Very. Tedious.

As I read somewhere else in the blogosphere, it all comes down to getting in the zone and just writing. But before I can get into that zone, I can’t help but go through a period of procrastination.

My method for procrastination is as follows:

  1. Clean up the office / desk space because there’s no way I can write with things everywhere.
  2. Sit down at the computer and wonder how long it will take to write my reports.
  3. Make a cup of tea. Or coffee.
  4. Wander back to the computer.
  5. Open up emails.
  6. Check out Facebook on my phone.
  7. Check out Pinterest – hey there’s a good pin for maths this week. Better save that.
  8.  Check out a news site for the local gossip.
  9. Check out my son’s high school site. Why has he got a late submission for his English homework?
  10. Duck off to the loo – exercise is supposed to be good isn’t it? Besides my neck and shoulder and back muscles are stiffening up. Laptops are not exactly ergonomic.
  11. Realise I’ve wasted 40 minutes so type like there’s no tomorrow (because sometimes there isn’t).
  12. Stagger out to the kitchen and declare to whoever is around “I’ve completed a report! Aren’t I clever?”

Then remember I have to do it all over again. Another 12 times.

 


 

OK, so there’s my confession. I know 13 students is not a lot but each report can take about 1.5-2 hours depending on the student.

Please let me know that I’m not the only one who procrastinates.

What causes you to procrastinate and why? What do you do when you procrastinate?

Discovering a New Form

This blog post has ‘popped up’ as part of my writing course. I have just started my next study period. It happens to be ‘Write Short Stories’.  I have fallen in love with some stories and forms that until now, I did not realise existed but have been exposed to through my course.

The form that intrigues me the most is the micro-fiction. Micro-fiction is tight. It is punchy. There is very little, if any description just action and maybe some dialogue. There is so much that is not said but rather implied in these very short pieces of fiction. How micro-fiction is received depends very much on what the reader brings to the reading. The writer almost assumes that the reader will understand the context in which the piece of fiction is placed.

I loved reading through these Twitter narratives.

A particular favourite was Jeffery Archer’s narrative on Adolph Hitler. Fascinating.

I have also been listening to audio casts of different short stories. There is only room for one main character, one emotion and really only one main event. The context and setting of the stories is very briefly recounted but make for a richer story because of their addition. These stories work so well because they are about people and people are so fascinating. I was showing my husband the story of Rick Curtis where Curtis recounts a very embarrassing story. We both laughed so hard and I at least had tears running down my face. His story works because it was so easy to imagine and it is easy to relate to his embarrassment. It’s well worth a listen.

What have you been discovering in the world of literature and narrative?

7 Things to Blog About Right Now

Sometimes blogging is hard work. For me, it can feel like I am speaking into a void.

“Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?”

Coming up with new ideas to write about can be a challenge too.

So I’ve put together a list of seven things that I will blog about over the coming weeks. If one of these ideas appeals to you and you want to write about it, please send me a link to your post in my comments section. I’d love to read about what you write too.

7 Things to Blog About Right Now

  1. What do you procrastinate over? Why?
  2. What are you currently enjoying? Why?
  3. What has a student/patient/client/colleague or friend taught you recently?
  4. What is something that you’ve done recently that you’re proud of? Why?
  5. Where do you hope to be in five years time?
  6. If you weren’t in your current job, what would you be doing?
  7. What are some of the challenges that present themselves at your place of work? How have you overcome them?

I look forward to being introduced to your blogs! Happy writing!

 

(Featured image: freeimages.com)