Teachers are humans too.

I challenged another blogger on WordPress to be more honest in her posts as I felt her latest post was aiming for a cheap laugh and certainly not her best writing. Needless to say she was unimpressed and she returned with a sarcastic comment.

So now I need to be honest.

And to be honest, this week I feel very blah about all aspects of teaching. This is the last week before Easter break and I am struggling with a severe case of ‘Can’t be Bothereds’. I will lose nine of my twelve students come Thursday as they complete their time at our school. Anything I plan this week is really a bonus in terms of their learning. I had one student who left early. His family managed to convince the school that someone back in Iran was unwell and the family had to return there. On quizzing the student, no one was sick. Grandma just wanted to meet the baby brother. And fancy that, it coincided with Iran’s New Year celebrations too. What did I tell you about Grandmas? It still makes me feel used.

Another reason for feeling blah is that I am losing a dear friend and colleague. I wrote about Miss Lee last year in an article attached to my portfolio. Miss Lee has managed to get a job in the Department of Education in the EAL unit (English as an Additional Language unit). So she sort of becomes my boss. I shall miss her greatly as there are some colleagues you just gel with more easily and she was one of those colleagues for me. What disturbs me though, is her recount of going for her interview and saying that different workers for the Department were queuing up for coffees at the cafe at 9:15am in the morning. At 9:15am in the morning I am already working hard and there are no coffees in sight. It would be nice to think my employers work just as hard…

We have also been working at home to determine whether there is any mold issues in our home. I had a microbiologist do his laser thing and spore trap thing around the house last week after I discovered that my genes make me multi-susceptible to molds and bio-toxins. If the fatigue from teaching wasn’t challenging enough, I also deal with ongoing allergies and inflammation. It might take a few weeks to get the results from the testing but if we solve this issue, things hopefully will improve. This certainly adds to the ‘Can’t be Bothereds’.

Today we also said ‘farewell’ to the pastor at our church. We’ve only known him for about two short years but he is moving on. His passion for Jesus and love for people were very much evident in all that he did and he will be sorely missed.

Tomorrow is Monday. I shall get up and pop a smile on my face. I shall face my students and then face their parents in what becomes a three-hour parent-teacher interview session that lasts into the evening. I shall get through this week and then take time to grieve, adjust and recover from this term over the holidays. I just need to you to know that behind every teacher’s smile, things can be going on. So let the teachers in your life know that you appreciate them and all the work they do.

*Featured image: Pixabay

 

Advertisements

Dear Mums and Dads…

Dear Mums and Dads…

(…and future Mums and Dads),

Please allow your child to grow up. Please allow them to be responsible for their own belongings and to get themselves dressed.

We took your children to the beach last week as part of our unit on The Beach. We had a lovely day and the children enjoyed participating in games and water safety activities with the life savers. They enjoyed playing in the sand and learnt that it is OK to sit on the sand and not a picnic rug to eat their lunch.

But…

…when it comes to getting changed from wet swimwear into dry clothes it is not really appropriate for your child at 7, 8 or 9 years of age to stand there, looking like a lost, limp starfish with arms spread-eagled waiting for someone to help them. They need to know how to dry themselves off with a towel and how to get dressed without help from their teachers. We are there to supervise but shouldn’t have to yell – “Put your undies on! Put your undies on!” (whilst doing the miming action) to your big child.

Please teach your child problem solving and responsibility.

One of my students forgot to bring her lunch. She should be packing and checking her bag at age 9. It is not our job to run off to the shops to buy her lunch because you she forgot. She will not starve with missing one meal. Yes, she will be a bit uncomfortable but maybe next time she will remember to bring her lunch.

My eight-year old at home had to demonstrate problem solving that day. His older brother had taken off with younger brother’s lunch. My eight-year old put together a new lunch complete with snack and fruit. They can do it. He had to do it: I was already at work! He has autism but managed to avoid a total meltdown. What a champ!

So Mums and Dads how about it? Let’s allow our kids to grow up.

Your tired and overworked teacher,

Mrs Guscott.

PS – by the way, get your child to tell you how bad the Australian sun can be. Their teacher got badly sunburnt, despite standing around in a jacket and beanie because the wind was so cold.

06F9BC3C-BCC2-4CE4-B584-2F260B11C092

 

 

The term rolls on…and I revisit KWL charts

Term 1 started four weeks ago and I have only just come up for breath. For the first two weeks I did not have the same class two days running. As our enrollments came in, I would lose students to older classes and receive other students from the class below me. I thought I had dodged receiving any of my old students from last year, but one popped and proved to be old enough and capable enough to join me this year.

I have P7 this year and I’m loving it. Last year I had P4, which was about a Grade 1 / 2 or about seven-year olds. Currently I have eight and nine – year olds and I have the upper ability grouped class.  My teaching partner has the same age level but his class is the beginner group and he’s finding the adjustment tough. It’s amazing the difference a year or two can make and also when the students have a little bit more English. I am actually having more fun and am not feeling so tired at the end of the day. The crunch will come in two weeks, when I have to write ten exit reports as my students will leave for their mainstream schools.

I have fallen in love with anchor charts this year. Here is one that is really working for me. It has solved a lot of angst in the classroom.

 

F30E4429-1DD8-49DB-83CC-36C31E280A92

 

Late last year, I wrote a post on KWL charts in the EAL classroom. Certainly in P4 I did not achieve much success with them. I thought I would revisit them with my older group. To increase the challenge I had them working in groups with only one student allowed to write and only one student allowed to present to the class. Each person in the group had a role. My students did an amazing job! Even Student T from last year managed.

 

 

Here’s to a Happy New Year in the classroom too!

First short story – Over the Moon.

My short story is finally ready for submission. I have gotten to the point where I don’t think I can do any more improvements to it from my end. Originally my story was 2,880 words. Ooops – way too long. I actually really enjoyed writing it and my kids (who were the target audience) really enjoyed reading it.

But…

There’s always a but, isn’t there?

My online tutor said it was way over the 800 word limit and suggested a few ways I could look at trimming my story down. Eek! It felt like I was ripping something precious to shreds. My hubby, who is cheerfully watching the Australian Open tennis on television any chance he can get, hasn’t been a lot of company, so last night became shredding night. I’ve whittled my story down to 945 words. Still a bit over but a huge cut down from the original. I hope you enjoy reading Over the Moon.

I’d love to know what you think.

Of holidays and poetry

(*featured image: http://www.intown.com.au)

The more he looked the more Piglet wasn’t there.

A. A. Milne ‘The House at Pooh Corner’

The above quote sums up how I felt last week after submitting a poem for assessment. I was waiting for the feedback and the more I looked, the more it wasn’t there. We were going camping for a week and of course a week feels like a long time when you are waiting for feedback… I received the feedback the morning we left to go away so I didn’t get to post the poem when I wanted to.

We spent a week camping on the Barwon Coast in Victoria. We had everything from 18C drizzly wet days to 42C scorchers. The weather becomes all important when camping – there wasn’t really much between our living space and the great outdoors except a piece of canvas. I love some aspects of camping, the main one is that everything slows down. It takes time to do anything and when life takes time, life also slows down.

I hope to get my short story submitted for assessment this coming week so that I finish my current study period before school goes back the week after.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy the poem that I got back from my assessors. I’d love to know what you think of it.

 

YOU WILL NOT WIN

Anxiety, unwelcome, uninvited

Not wanted, still you came.

A masked intruder with

Fingers choking, like dark tendrils

Squeezing joy out of the tender

Heart and mind of my young daughter.

 

With an icy cruel blow, you make your move.

And it’s –

Hands sweating, heart pounding

Breath racing, eyes widening

Breath racing, panic rising

She looks at me:

‘Mummy, why am I always so scared?’

 

Then with a crash, your friend, Anger moves in.

And it’s –

Eyes flashing, mouth screaming

Doors slamming, feet stamping

Doors slamming, peace fleeing

And I ask of myself:

‘How can I be the mother she needs?’

 

 

But Love rises up from the depths and remains strong.

And it’s –

Arms embracing, heart slowing

Breath calming, muscles easing

Breath calming, mind relaxing.

She whispers into my neck:

‘Mummy, I love you.’

 

Anxiety, you will not win.

 

 

 

Sarah Guscott

January, 2018

 

 

Happy New Year!

The New Year is already off and running. This year looks set to be just as busy as last year. I have one child off to high school, a hubby who has just picked up an extra day of work and a writing course that needs to be completed!

So, I’ve finally gotten back on track with my writing. My new module is all to do with writing fiction. My toes actually curled up in horror when I realised what the assessment task was: a short piece of fiction. I so loved writing articles and working with non-fiction in the previous module.

One of the first tasks in the module was to look at blocks to creativity. I have to say two of my biggies are:

  • wanting things to be perfect – even at first draft level.
  • not knowing whether my ideas will appeal to an audience.

I also had no idea where to start writing my piece of fiction.

So, I took the plunge, so to speak and began writing up a story that I used to tell my children around the dinner table a few years ago. My children have been fascinated watching me write. I managed to complete the first draft today.

My ten-year-old and twelve-year-old both laughed at different points along the story and seemed to enjoy it. My husband even laughed and said he enjoyed it. He did point out a few technical errors that I will need to go and research a little further as I polish up the draft. My eight-year-old was probably the most critical. He also didn’t laugh like the others. He just said ‘I’m sad. The cow didn’t get to jump on her trampoline at the fair.’ In his defense, he has been unwell today.

At 2,864 words long, my story is longer than the 800 words required for my online course. It’s working title was The Cow, the Trampoline and the Moon which as my husband pointed out wasn’t very zippy. My daughter said based on the title she would not want to read it. We had a crazy family brainstorming session over dinner where different titles were suggested. Among the suggestions were:

  • This Cow needs a Bra!
  • This Cow doesn’t have a Bra!
  • Udderly Nonsense

and

  • Over the Moon

I shall publish my short story to my blog when it is ready but until then, I’d better get back on with my writing!

(both images from Pixabay)

cow jumping

Merry Christmas and bring on the Holidays!

The day that teachers never think will arrive, finally arrived yesterday.

Yep! Yes!! Hip-hip hooray! Holidays started yesterday. I have moved into my new classroom for 2018. It’s as tidy as can be before the cleaners steam clean the carpet. I completed my professional review with my principal. The review was fairly spontaneous as I had take all my professional ‘evidence’ home but it was good to get it done. I even got time to get a laminating head-start on next year (that is such a teacher thing!) and got to leave work even earlier so that I could see my eldest child complete his final assembly at Primary School.

On the home front, Christmas has been completed for one side of the family and it’s just my side tomorrow. The turkey is cooling off before being popped in the fridge and the kids are veging in front of the TV. I have just a few cheeky last minute presents to wrap which my daughter is hanging out to help wrap.

Then it’s countdown to relax and unwind and enjoy the five weeks break. Bring on January!

Merry Christmas to everyone and enjoy whatever time you get to unwind.

See you in 2018.