I cracked it…

Yep, I feel like I have lost the plot. I just wanted my latest assignment task done. Tonight’s the night and near enough has just gotta be good enough, if you know what I mean.

I have been sitting on this article for about the last 10 weeks!!!! I have learnt that getting information out of government departments is like trying to get pigs to fly. It just ain’t gonna happen…

I went out for dinner last week with an ex-colleague who now works for the Department of Education. When I mentioned my dramas with trying to get information for my article, she just nodded her head, rather sagely. Then with different comments that she made over the course of the evening, I realised that this department, like just about every department (surely there’s one that’s different?) likes to sugar coat things and talk around things in circles. There’s a lot of show and ceremony and not much in the way of substance. No wonder my questions were relegated to the scrap heap.

I have two months to complete this course, so here it is – my final article for my journalism units of work. Here’s hoping that it passes.

Why Victoria Should Change the Structure of its Terms.

I’d love to know what your thoughts are on my article in terms of its quality, structure and content. What would you have done differently if you had to write an article? Let me know in the comments below.

On another note, even teachers get into doodling and become a little distracted during professional development sessions. We had to attend a session run by a Chinese psychologist as part of our PD hours on students with special needs. She had some sad stories and some interesting stories on how the economic growth of the last 30 or so years has impacted Chinese families. To Western ears, a lot of what she was talking about in terms of Chinese families seemed quite dysfunctional, but I’m sure that many Chinese families would see their life as normal – just the way things are.


doodling (1)


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)

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!


(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


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.


…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.




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.




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!

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.