Things I am not good at…

…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.

To tide you over here is a quick list of my current obsessions… Continue reading

Things I Learned Yesterday…

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.

I did an adventure race.

I’m a relatively active person but not to the levels that I could or should be. There are always excuses. But, when one of my dearest friends invited me to join her family as part of their team my first instinct was…no I’m not ready. But, I thought it over and said yes…

So, yesterday, I sports bra-ed and suited up. (Two bras if you were wondering… and yes, it was painful but I didn’t want to give myself a black eye…) I gave it my best shot. My friend and her family were much fitter than I but they put up with me. Plus, I remembered why I slowed down on my running…my knees.

But, I had a lot of fun. It was mostly up hill and there were times when I was crawling up the hill as it was rather steep. I nearly lost my shoes in the mud run and the down hill made my knees swell but I’d do it again. (Not right now…I’m currently resting my knee…a little bit…) But it was a lot of fun. And, even though we weren’t the first, we weren’t the last. I would actually recommend this to any body who likes a challenge. It was a lot harder than I expected and my friend said it was harder than last year but I had a lot of fun doing it.

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Goodbye Dear Shoes

I learned a lot from this race and one is that I need to take more time for my own health and fitness if I want to get better. (Better at running and at being a healthier person.) I don’t often admit that I struggle with self esteem and my weight because I really love the body positivity movement and advocate it. Healthy at any size! But I also like being fit and running and dancing…so here’s to taking more time for my own health.

Also, my bucket list will always been changing but I can cross that one thing off. Next on the list – I need to finish my second novel and edit my first one more.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s time for me to be more creative with my bucket list. Or, maybe it’s time for me to do more…

What’s on your bucket list? What should I add to mine?

 

 

31 Days of Horror, Bullet Journaling and Stuff

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?)

On tumblr the Northern Hemisphere is going wild with it’s fall aesthetic and pumpkin spice lattes (something I have never tried but have heard all about…the nearest Starbucks is over an hour away so … yeah). Plus, all the Halloween pictures appearing  has got me in the mood for horror films. And, thus, I have arrived at the actual topic of my blog today.

I am doing a 31 Days of Horror challenge wherein I attempt to watch 31 horror films this month. I jumped in a little late, starting on the 3rd so watched 3 horrors in a row.

Krampus (2015) which now ties with Gremlins and Die Hard for best Christmas film ever. The Chernobyl Diaries which was terrible but it counts and then I re-watched From Dusk Til Dawn which totally counts cause vampires…Then, on the 4th, I watched Rogue which is about a giant crocodile and stars Radha Mitchell,  Sam Worthington and Mia Wasikowska. Pure and unashamed cheese.

I love horror films. Always have. Especially the slashers of the late 70s and 80s.

If you want to join me jump in and tweet me @inkblotsquills with film recommendations or let me know what you’ve been watching.

I also decided to start bullet journaling last night. This came about after I did some tidying and found no less than 15 unused notebooks/journals in my craft room. I have a problem…

Anyway, I will add some pictures once I get it fully underway.

I also started a teacher focused tumblr if you wanted to check it out. The Caffeinated Teacher. I will probably use that to do more teacher posts and turn this blog back into just a blog about me and the nerdy stuff I like. (Though teaching is a huge part of my life so there will be ideas and thoughts etc… but less of the technical stuff and more of the real stuff…)

So there you go. An update. A not so great update but an update none-the-less.

If you have any suggestions for what you’d like me to watch let me know.

Also, if there is anything you’d like me to write about, well leave a comment. Let’s do this.

Peace and Pancakes

Jaime

 

What the heck happened…?

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.

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Me wasting time in cupcakes pjs and doodling

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.)

This comic is a happy thing for me Gallbladder’s last day.

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Me trying my first coffee in a month … it didn’t go down well…

Nerdy Teacher Building Relationships In the Classroom

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?

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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…)

Peace and pancakes,

XJaime

Passion, Purpose, Pride and Performance

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.

Question One:

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.

Question Two:

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.

Question Three:

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.

Question Four:

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.

 

 

What are my goals? Classroom Edition

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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

Year 10BYOD

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?