I struggle to make time for the things I truly enjoy. Aside from travelling overseas to San Diego for Comic Con, I often find myself making excuses for avoiding activities that I used to really enjoy. Two activities that fall into this category are:
These are two things that I used to pursue on a daily basis. I would gobble up literature and go through reams of paper drawing and doodling. Now, unless I force myself to sit down and read or draw, I don’t do anywhere near the amount I used to.
…regular blogging. I get all excited and then I forget things and then this happens… Then again, I’m not that good at being regular… well that could be TMI.
In order to motivate myself to write more and take more time for me I actually paid for a domain name and everything…now that I’ve actually invested money in blogging maybe I’ll actually do something with it. I mean, I have been blogging on and off for the last fifteen plus years so I may as well try to make it more official. Or at least make myself feel a little bit guilty about putting money into something and then leaving it to collect dust.
The next thing is to figure out what I really want to do with this blog. If you click on the about page you’ll see that I’ve made a separate blog for my teaching. Partially because I want something else that I can write about than just teaching. I mean, I love teaching but I am more than just a teacher. I need a proper outlet for my geeky endeavours, right?
So, I am toying around with a few ideas. Some along the lines of more reviews – films, novels, shows etc.
I want to have more of my Five Things lists as well.
If there are any other things that you would like me to write about let me know.
In the meantime you’ll notice that the layout will be changing over the next few weeks while I figure out how I want my blog to look. I’m just fussy – I’ve already spent most of this afternoon fart assing around with the layout and I’m still not happy.
I have a bucket list. In fact, I have several bucket lists scattered around on bits of papers and in half written journals. Doesn’t everyone?
For the longest time my bucket list was pretty average. Go travelling, write a novel (I’m working on it) learn how to do a handstand (still working on that one as well) and fall in love (how freaking cliched…right? ahem … right? Still haven’t fallen in love so…). From all accounts it looked like my bucket list was just a random list of ideas…but, this weekend, I knocked something off my bucket list.
Admittedly 2016 has not been a good year for me. There have been highlights – most notably San Diego Comic Con – which was so awesome. There are words but none of them are intelligible at this present moment.
But, generally, 2016 has been a ‘suckfest’ in numerous senses. I guess the gallbladder thing takes the cake and I’m still dealing with all that. You’d be surprised at what foods seem to hate me at present. (For those of you who can eat anything after your surgery I’m actually glad and happy for you. Unfortunately, some food goes through me faster than … well I’ll let you finish that off.) It’s been 17 weeks since the surgery and I’ve done a lot of traveling and teaching and thinking. Maybe a little too much in the way of thinking but that’s me.
Anyway, it’s October (seriously, where the hell did the year go) and now it’s heading into Spring (which soon means summer holidays but who’s counting anyway?)
So I was going to regularly update this blog but, unfortunately, my gallbladder had other ideas.
On Good Friday, when I had a glorious long weekend spread out in front of me, a mysterious pain started in. At the time I thought it was just indigestion but the pain steadily worsened until I decided that I should probably get it checked out. I drive myself to the ED (Emergency Department) and wait to see the on call doctor.
By this time I’m having chest pains and lower back pains and I’m feeling bouts of nausea – so a great way to spend my Monday off. (Yes I’d had the pain for nearly four days before going to check it out…I’m strange like that…)
The doctor looks at me and takes some vitals and suggests gallstones which means I have to go back to ED and get semi admitted so they can administer pain relief that’s a little stronger than panadol. I get a few needles shoved in and then get some blood taken followed by tramadol and buscapan (excuse spelling…) plus a tonne of paracetamol and ibuprofen. Then I get sent home and told to keep on a low fat diet. (Which is fun considering I’m also gluten free due to IBS … all the stomach problems.)
I am told to make an appointment with my regular doctor to get a surgical appointment as well.
Tuesday is also a day off for teachers due to where Easter fell so I’m resting (or trying to because the pain hasn’t gotten any better) when I get the call to go for an ultrasound which also means that I’m not allowed to eat for a few hours.
The ultrasound confirms gallstones and I have to go back to ED (though I’m not sure why) where I get given a prescription for a range of painkillers on top of the range I already have and am told just to manage it until I can see my doctor. By this time it’s five in the afternoon and I haven’t been able to eat since nine that morning. I’m tired, cranky, in pain and a little scared because the pain hasn’t gotten better, in fact, it’s gotten steadily worse.
I call in my relief for Wednesday because I know I won’t be able to function at school like this and manage to get an appointment almost first thing on Wednesday morning. By this time the pain really hasn’t subsided and I’m unable to get comfortable but I also don’t want to bother people. My doctor (who is freaking amazing by the way!) takes one look and basically sends off for a surgical referral and then tells me to ignore the second prescription and gives me one to help with the nausea I get with tramadol and send me home. She does tell me if I feel worse to go straight back to the ED.
Cue ten o’clock on the Wednesday night where I’ve tried to go to bed. The pain is really bad and I take my dose of tramadol and the anti nausea. It is over an hour later that I realise I’ve been crying for at least half that time. I can’t lie down and I can’t sit up so I start pacing and focusing on my breathing. I also decide to take some ibuprofen and paracetamol as well.
Cue 1.45am and I am still in pain and still crying. I realise that this isn’t right and I drive myself to the ED. (I could have woken my border but didn’t want to disturb her.) Mind you I’m crying the entire way because I’m in pain and I’m angry at myself for being in pain.
I get into the ED and I am crying and apologising for being a pain and disturbing them in the middle of the night. (I know…I’m a numpty). They admit me straight away and then have to deal with an emergency before being able to get me some concentrated pain relief. Then I was admitted to the surgical ward.
Basically I spend the next couple of days in hospital on saline and IV antibiotics. Then released. I’m still in a little bit of pain but no where near as bad as it was on the Wednesday/Thursday.
I then go back to school for the final two weeks before the April break though I kinda rushed it and ended up having to drive home early for a few days.
That happened almost a month ago and now I am waiting for the surgery date so they can remove my gallbladder. I had the appointment with the anaesthetist and will hear about the surgery very shortly. Needless to say I haven’t felt like blogging for some time due to feeling incredibly exhausted.
Now my only worry is if the surgery is in the first week back at school because I really hate writing relief…(in reality I hate missing school because I really enjoy my job…and the students I have a funny, and strange, a weird, and kind, and just great humans who are still trying to recognise their potential.)
So, I was rapping the verse from “Satisfied” from the amazing Hamilton Musical in class the other day and some students heard me. They were impressed. And this got me thinking about how the students view me. Cause, let’s face it, I’m pretty white. (Regardless of my ancestry I present as white.) Plus, I don’t speak with the typical kiwi accent. I can blame that on years of speech therapy and travel. I guess that this makes it hard for students to categorise me and, if they haven’t been taught by me before, they can often be confused or, at the very least, a little intimidated by me. (Trust me, I find that strange as well. I mean, I’m a short, stocky, nerdy gamer girl who drinks far too much coffee and has a tendency to lisp…oh let’s throw in the glasses as well…who can be intimidated by that?)
But what I found more interesting was the fact that the students seemed interested in the musical and the fact that I like rap music, (from the late 80s/early 90s mainly…) which leads me into my main point – building relationships in the classroom. I tend to get along with most people, regardless of my introverted nature, I can talk to people from most walks of life. I just need a lot of alone time to make up for it if it goes on for too long. However, the students often find us, as adults, fascinating. Whether they are looking for some kind of inspiration or someone who they can respect I don’t know.
Building relationships is one of the key elements to creating a safe and powerful learning environment. Students have to know who you are or, at least, have a small sense of who you are in order to listen to you for four hours a week. And it is through these relationships that respect begins to grow.
Some of the ways that I build relationships between my students and myself are as follows:
Being honest. (To a degree, obviously.) I always try to be myself and, if I’m having a bad day I let the students know and then I move on. Students are smart – they pick up cues that others miss. It’s fascinating.
Being myself – this is part of being honest. I’m a huge goofball and nerd. And it shows in my classroom from the Tardis Cookie jar to the Literary puns that adorn my walls to the pop culture references in my lessons.
Allowing them to see that I make mistakes. Teachers are human, contrary to many beliefs. Making mistakes is important to show them that it’s okay.
Being passionate about my job. I truly love my job though it’s stressful – paperwork aside I find much of my time consumed with worrying about my students. And questioning if I am doing enough to help them. (This is something that, I’m told, is a sign of a great teacher…I don’t know if I agree…)
Talking to students. Actually sitting at their level and talking about things that they are passionate about.
Showing them that it’s okay to like things – i.e. video games, musicals, anime – students often feel so isolated that they often love the fact that adults also have likes and dislikes – who knew that teachers were actual people, right?
My apologies for the rushed blog. For the sake of honesty, I’ve had a headache for most of the day so actually came straight home after school. Now I’m trying to prep for tomorrow, write this blog and tackle my to do list.
Anyway, what do you do to help foster a safe learning environment? Sing Disney tunes to your classes? Dance around the room? Do dinosaur impersonations? (Guilty of all three…)
Every Monday our principal provides us with a bulletin/newsletter of sorts that outlines the week, gives us some thoughts to ponder and reminds us where we are in the grand scheme of things.
Today’s bulletin had the following questions attached at the bottom so I thought that I might answer them.
What is your purpose as a teacher in 2016?
You may be wondering why I struck out in 2016 and that’s fair enough. I have my goals for the year, which have been mentioned in other posts and I’d like to focus on that main part of that question – what is my purpose as a teacher…? To answer that I would say to share my love of learning. To help students view the world around them through multiple perspectives while they strengthen their own.
My purpose as a teacher is to guide students – it is not to do the work for them but to allow them to find new ways to do the work themselves. As I constantly remind my students – I’m here to guide and facilitate their learning. Hopefully, I’ve started the year off well with that line of thinking.
What performance goals have you set yourself in 2016?
I have numerous goals but the one thing they have in common is that they rely on the students and their engagement with the topics chosen. I don’t have precise statistics on where I want my students to be but I have expectations.
I expect students to aim for their best.
I expect students to challenge their idea of their best.
I expect students to attempt every standard offered.
I want students to find their own strengths in English.
I have already started a class website which I am updating weekly with mini progress reports. From that I want students to critically engage with the world around them in order to improve their general knowledge.
I know that every one of my students can pass and my aim is to help as many do that as possible.
What passion and energy will you bring to your purpose in 2016?
I know that I will have off days. I know that I will have days where I am anxious and that I feel like I am failing my students but I hope that they will always see the passion I have for the topics I teach.
I will have a multi-media approach to everything that I teach, from performing in front of my class to giving them scaffolded assessments. I with bring my passion to help fire up their own.
As mentioned before I already have my website and, in combination with Google Drive and Edmodo I hope to create stronger connections to students and their families. It is through my website and (of course) my teaching that I hope to show my passion.
Be proud to be a teacher at Trident High School in 2016.
I don’t think it matters what school you teach at. If you are happy in your work, see and enact positive change then you should be proud. I am proud of the accomplishments my students do, regardless of whether they are for Trident or just goals for themselves. I am proud to be part of an established community. I am privileged to be allowed to teach about the things I am most passionate every day…although I get tired and stressed and feel lonely at times, I truly love my job and am proud to do the job I do. After all, it is the students who come first.
Until next time – here is a look at the beginning of my class decorations. Just cause photos are fun.
As week three hits I’m already well into deciding what goals I have for myself and my students. These are not to be confused with the goals I have for my self care and looking after myself – rather, these are with regard to my students. The ones that I see in front of me on a day to day basis.
This year my timetable is a little different but I still have individual goals for each of my classes.
My timetable is roughly this:
Level 3 Internal – One main class and 2 one hour relief lessons. (So 3 level three classes in a way.)
Level 2 General
Level 1 Advanced
My goals for each class are as such:
L3 – Critically engage with written and visual texts in order to make meaning with the world around you. And, think about the impact that you have on those around you.
L2 – Think critically about how texts can manipulate you. Think critically about your place in the class and in the world.
L1 – Critically engage with the world around you and think critically about the texts that we study.
10BYOD – Build on your general knowledge and expand your vocabulary in order to improve deeper level thinking.
These goals are all very similar but each is actually very important. I think the overall skill that I want students to improve on is deeper level thinking. There are so many connections in the world and I’d hate for students to miss out when we have a wealth of information at our fingertips.
In order for me to help the students meet these goals I have started a class weebly that the students and parents can check on to see important information and weekly updates. Although it may seem that I’m doing extra work I’m actually hoping it will cut down on unnecessary time spent sending letters or emails – but we’ll see how that goes.
My personal goals in my classroom include:
Regulating my voice more. I don’t like raising my voice and, although I very rarely shout, I have a tendency to fall back on a loud voice to get attention.
Focusing more on my teaching rather than everything else that I need to get done. (To Do lists are my friend.)
Allowing students more time to discuss and develop their understanding. I want them to build their growth mindset and I have to continue to build mine in order to help do that.
As for my self care – if I am honest I haven’t been as good to myself as I could be. Even as I type this I feel as if I haven’t done enough, though it is just Monday. This is something that will always be a work in progress.
What goals do you have for your classroom? Life? Day?
I got a lot done last week, over the weekend and today. And, as I sit down to write this I still have this feeling that I should be doing something more, something else, just something that will make me appear as productive and proactive as I am told that I am.
You see, I’m a worrier and tend to be Type A personality – if you read into those sorts of things. I’m not talking about horoscopes because I believe those are utter tripe but I sometimes like to play around with online personality tests. (I’m aware that they aren’t necessarily accurate but they are fun.)
According to much of the information I have read some things that Type A Personalities do are as follows:
Time is important – Type A personalities hate wasting time or having their time wasted.
They can become overly passionate about something
Very prone to stressing (worrying about everything and anything.)
Trouble sleeping because their mind is always racing.
They are highly efficient.
Their career is at the front and centre.
They walk fast and with a purpose.
Love solving problems
There are many lists – task lists, to do lists etc.
This, by no means, is the entire list. I will include some links down the bottom for your reading pleasure.
I look at lists like this and realise that my friends are right – I am Type A. It’s not a bad thing and it’s not necessarily the most accurate thing out there but I do identify with many of the traits and it does help me when I try to rationalise when I’m feeling overly stressed or struggling not to worry about something. All of this relates back to my job as a High School Teacher. Knowing and being aware of my tendencies will help me prepare for any nervous or stressed moments.
I also redid my Briggs Myer Personality test and I got INFJ again. Every damn time. I enjoy reading about the traits but always take them with a grain of salt. Humans are much more complex that we allow ourselves to believe. That being said, I did identify with many of the traits listed. The strengths and weaknesses struck a particular chord – and match rather well with my Type A personality.
My weaknesses, in particular, were interesting. According to this one my main weaknesses are that I am :
always need to have a cause
can burn out easily.
These are true for me. All of them. This often surprises people because many think or believe me to be quite extroverted but I’m not. My alone time is incredibly important to me and needed every day. My routines are part of my way to cope with being in a bustling job. I mention this because teaching is not an easy job – especially for introverted people. Add to that the statistics stating that most new teachers are leaving before they reach 5 years. It’s not the best profession to be an introvert.
I’m in my fifth year…but I’m still enjoying it. As long as I get time to myself to recharge.
Anyway, what is your personality type? Are you more laid back than myself? Let me know if you believe in all this.