Holidays = Personal Maintenance Time

I had never considered myself a ‘mouldy’ person but have discovered these holidays that this is essentially what I am. (We spell it mould in Australia – it’s the same as mold and I might inadvertently use the spellings interchangeably.)

One of my colleagues says holidays for teachers means time for ‘personal maintenance’. It is possible to see the doctor, get a hair cut and your eyes checked during the term, but so much easier to do during the holidays.

So I found myself last Thursday visiting my naturopath. She was having an “I told you so” moment but was thankfully too professional to actually say the words. I received my mould report from my microbiologist whom I wrote about in an earlier post. Basically our ceiling cavity is horrendous. I have never been up there, but it is making me sick. My naturopath was fascinated by the reports. She kept saying “It just makes sense with your allergies, your gene code and now the news about your house. Everything fits together.” She then mixed up a whole stack of herbal potions for me, which keep me functioning during term time (and cost a fortune) and I went on my way.

The herbal tonics helped a lot even within the first 24 hours. It would be fabulous if the government was able to subsidize them the way they do pharmaceutical drugs. Generally they don’t have the same nasty side effects. I also went out and bought an air purifier for our bedroom, as it has the highest mould levels in the house. The brochure for the air purifier came with an endorsement from none other than the microbiologist who had been crawling around in our roof cavity only a few weeks ago. The air purifier kicked up a fuss as hubby dusted our bedroom, flashing green and red as it dealt with greater levels of particles. I am wondering whether  I can get one for my classroom at school. Just about everywhere at school makes me sneeze.

These holidays I have also been working on my latest assignment for my writing course. I have been learning that Government departments don’t like phone interviews, preferring me to email questions through to them. My hopes for my latest article seem to be changing by the minute. I’m still at the research stage, but just want it to be done.

So the plan for Term 2, which starts tomorrow is:

  • get onto remediating the ceiling cavity
  • getting rid of the mouldy carpet in our bedroom
  • finishing my writing course by the end of July (so I have to keep going)
  • try and stay healthy
  • break in a new class of students to my approach to teaching and learning
  • squeeze in some teaching
  • fit in some family time

And to top this off, Term 2 is also when I turn 40!

 

(Featured image: freeimages.com)

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Happy Easter!

Question: What do you do on the last day of term before the school holidays with your students?

Answer: Make Easter craft of course!

One of my colleagues (the one who’s leaving), laughed as she went past my room today. “You’re such an art teacher Sarah!” she said.

These Easter rabbits come from Teach Starter. My students had an absolute ball and were thoroughly engrossed – including the boys. Some students made their rabbits into ‘Alphabet Rabbits’. P7 have been a really lovely class this term and I will miss my students. Here’s hoping that next term, my students are just as good!

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(Photo taken with my iPhone. Sorry it’s a little out of focus.)

Question: What do you do on the last day of term before the school holidays begin with your family?

Answer: Have McMummy’s of course!

This is a tradition that started about eight years ago. I saw it somewhere and thought ‘That sound’s like fun!’

We start our holidays with the kids getting into their PJ’s early, then eating take-away on a picnic rug on the living room floor. We then watch a movie whilst drinking hot chocolate and eating popcorn. It’s a fantastic little ritual and the kids really look forward to it. It really helps to mentally switch on the mentality of ‘Holidays have started!’ Tonight we’re doing fish and chips.

Happy Easter to all those who celebrate it!

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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.

Catching Up

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. Maybe too long, but life has a habit of getting in the way. Also sometimes it’s hard to keep going when it’s quiet on the comments/reply front.

I’ve been slack on the writing course front too. I got sick, we went on holidays to Queensland, I got a new class and had what felt like a million follow up appointments and before I knew it I was writing reports again. I haven’t quite finished reports from this term yet, but they are very much well underway. I had to be more organised than normal because I booked a writing course for this weekend which was well worth the money and so being more organised was well worth the effort. I shall post more about the course later this week.

But amongst the busyness, I did squeeze in a small assignment. I have now included a profile of one of my friends who has changed careers in mid-life to become a nurse on my portfolio page. Yes, changing careers and studying later in life does seem to be a common theme with some of my articles at the moment, but maybe that is just where I am at for the moment.

Anyway, have a read and let me know what you think!

– Sarah

And around we go again!

Where did the holidays go?

For me the holidays were spent catching up with friends over afternoon teas, catching up with a bit of shopping, checking out different blogs on WordPress and getting our house renovated. We had the heating installer crawling around under our house one day and the electrician crawling around in our roof the next.

Well, after being back at school for one week the biggest topic of conversation among the teachers is how tired we are already! It’s actually been fascinating to hear how many of us don’t sleep particularly well before returning to school and during the first week back. The other topic of conversation is how challenging it is to return to getting up on schedule, eating on schedule and going to the bathroom on schedule. If that’s challenging for the teachers, how much more so for the students. At our school it is like starting a new year every term and that is exhausting.

I actually had to congratulate myself the other day: no one in my class has been crying and no one has wet themselves. (Yet!) What an achievement! The average age of my class has dropped by about another six months. I began the year with a Year 2/3. Term 2 I had a Year 1/2 and now I have got mainly Year 1. This term we had a huge influx of Prep children which is why my class is younger. The students have all been pushed up.

 

playground-hopscotch-snake-1441226

(image: http://www.freeimages.com)

Student B is back in my class for this term. He began the week looking very settled and seemed to be understanding most of what I was saying. He seems pretty pleased that he is now one of the ‘old students’ and I have had to ask him to help me with the ‘new students’. However by Thursday, he couldn’t help himself. He began niggling other students in line and got into a fight at playtime. After sorting out the lining up order, the next thing on my list to do is to instigate the floor seating arrangement.

One thing I find fascinating about EAL teaching with new arrivals is how much the students learn and how much one actually teaches in a short period of time. By Wednesday, my class was beginning to settle quite nicely. We had played ‘Classroom instructions’ – which is a bit like musical chairs. The difference is that when the music stops, I call out an instruction like ‘Sit on your chair!’ and the students have to follow. We’d also done colours, days of the week, making requests and numbers to 20. Then… on Thursday I scored my thirteenth student… and the poor kid is having to work out which way is up when the other new students have already learnt this. He gets a crash course in colours and numbers to 20 which we revise but obviously don’t get to do in depth again. The class dynamics change yet again.

Such is life in the New Arrivals Program.