penombra

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

It's been one of those days, where kids just don't sit still, do the assigned task or just be quiet. I could rehash the entire day, but I think that would take more energy than I honestly have.

I came back from a long weekend of combined professional development and visiting a beloved friend, resolute in not dwelling on the negative. I was not going to let the negative affect my emotional or physical health. I was going to see each student as a child/teenager rather than a demon sent from another dimension to hound me. It lasted one whole day. Heh.

However, my car is well, dead. And it will cost near to $1000 to fix it. We've spent almost that same amount in the last 2 months on it, and it's full of rust. We think it's time to move on, and try and get another car. I did not cry once, or stress out. I just accepted the negative and moved on.

Why can't I do this with students? I think, on the basic level, that it's my job to make them learn. I can't just say, "this is too much for me right now, I'm just going to take a breather" to the student who threatened to shoot me today. Or I can't just say to myself that "this child is just showing his anger at other things and I happen to be the unfortunate target. I should tell him how wonderful he is, even if he's just called me a bitch". Doesn't really work in practice. For all the lofty idealism, it just doesn't seem to work in my professional life. I'll still try to keep it up, even though I lost it completely today with a student. Yeah, the trust is going to spring back real fast with that kid.

Monday, April 18, 2005

It's been a while since my last post. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm working my proverbial tail off at school and feeling completely undervalued by my employers and my students.

I could tell you some doozies, but mainly what is bringing me down is the fact that a class of my students do not care about the class, nor do they care that I spend upwards of 8 hours a week preparing stuff just for them. We're covering a difficult form of theatre, and I've made lots of work on their level. We only have a limited time this term, and instead of working, they complain that I haven't marked their essays in 4 days. Nevermind the fact parent/teacher conferences were on this week, nor the fact that I'm ill (for which I am staying home today because I'm so sick). They would rather me just mark their previous lacklustre efforts. So today, while sick, I'm going to mark their work. I get the feeling I may be a little harder on them than usual in the marking process. But seriously, year 12's? Take some damn responsibility for your learning.

I am working upwards of 12 hours a day, and facing real issues with people in my staffroom. I can't discuss it due to professionalism, but I really do not feel supported by the people who are supposed to do this.

The situation is so bad now that I really wish I could change jobs. But, financial restraints are pretty bad, so I have to wait it out. Perhaps sometime soon, my students will have some kind of empathy and realise I'm making myself ill bending over backwards to help them. Now we're talking about a miracle.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I finally have experienced some success with my year 8 class! I know it will seem obvious, but until this week I was bricked in with a curriculum developed by my HOD who has the top class in the grade. After weeks of struggling with them to stay in their seats, stop hitting the kid next to them, yelling out, and just generally generating the noise of a circus, I finally stumbled on Problem Based Learning again.

I've used PBL in other classes well, and honestly, I was a bit worried that using it in my yr 8 room would descend into chaos. And it did. It was just organised chaos. I set them a very difficult task on a short timeline, and most of them have shown they are up to it.

As a finishing to our decision-making/government (yawn) topic, in groups, they had to come up with a facility that the local shire needs for young people. They had to put their ideas into a proposal to be put before 'Council' (the rest of class). Side-note: I tried to get someone from the Council to come, but they just couldn't. It involved drawing the building/facility and putting together a small report. Then they present it, using palm cards.

I only gave them 4 lessons (about 2.5 hours) to do this, and they're presenting tomorrow. I guess I'll only know how well they went when they've actually presented, but already I can sense a change in the class. Out of 6 groups, only one is slightly dysfunctional, and the rest have produced some quality stuff. I had kids helping others, brainstorming (and agreeing!), working collaboratively on their diagrams and having real discussions about what they would like to see.

When I design the unit for next term, it's going to use a lot more of these kinds of activities. It's already been a success compared to the rest of the term.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Equinox is here...

And I'm stuck in my house marking my student's work. Damn report cards.

I am currently despairing over my favourite class' marks. I have trusted them to do their written work accompanying their performance, and they have generally let me down. They have the raw talent and general determination to do well in the subject. They give the impression that they would do anything I ask them. So why am I finding a lot of half-arsed efforts?

I think I gave them too much free reign. My year 12's had to hand their written work into me a week before their performances so I could check they were doing it. Why didn't I do this with my year 10's? It's definately going to happen from now on.

With all of the performance based work this week, I'm beginning to feel stilted in my teaching role. I want to be out there creating performances with a sense of place. I want to create something that pushes the boundaries - that elicts reactions in the audience. I want to create giant puppets, or a work completely in shadow, or a digital piece that explores the distance between realities. I want to act, direct, produce...anything!

Instead, I'm faced with a bunch of teenagers who generally don't want to be there, who have no energy or determination. And I'm in a small town where the only thing I could produce that would be viable would be a musical. And a tame one at that. I want to challenge the boundaries like I used to. Now, I'm just constrained by them and a system that requires me to teach stuff that doesn't matter and constantly assess.

Reading over this, it looks like I want out of my job. Ha, obviously report card time! Grass is greener and all that. Better get back to it then.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

I guess the cyclone can be blamed for the craziness of this week. For most of the week, my energy was so drained that I could barely speak when I returned home. Kids were worried about a Category 5 cyclone, the highest you can get. So, for two days, everyone was worried we were going to get blown away, or at least flooded in. It's been raining ever since, though it is only localised flooding.

I had another incident with abusive student. About three weeks ago, he told me to f*ck off, which earnt him a three day holiday. On Thursday whilst I was on bus duty, he took it to a new level. He pushed a kid over in line, and I told him he had to go to the back of the line. He replied, "I didn't F*cking do anything!"
To which I said, quite calmly I'll add, "You know you can't speak to me like that."
Then I got told to, "F*ck off" and "F*ck you", in front of about 40 other kids waiting for the bus. He stormed off, leaving a lot of concerned students saying that he wasn't allowed to speak to me like that. Well, duh.

The other teacher on duty reported it to the principal while I finished duty. Then I went in there and explained to her what happened. She joked that perhaps he sees my red hair and attacks like a bull. An apt analogy. His punishment was going to be a longer suspension, but he declined to attend school the next day. I wonder why?

Oh! In other news, I can finally drive! I got my P's on Monday, which was very exciting. So exciting that I actually did the Snoopy dance in the Police Station. And the staffroom when I returned. And at home. And on the phone. Well, you get the picture.

Off to work out what to eat for dinner before going to a fellow staff member's house warming party. Staffroom politics abound, so it should make for an interesting evening.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

More photos of the new kitten...


Onyx 1, originally uploaded by samante.

We have a new member of the family...



And his name is Onyx.

Monday, February 21, 2005

These past few weeks have been insane. I've been at school or working at home at least 12 hours a day. However, now we're in that inbetween time, the place where all of my classes are either drafting or rehearsing, and I can finally take a breath. Which is just as well really, because it's week 5 and I've caught my first illness of the year. I was hoping that being a second year would mean my body was immune to more stuff and I would be a lot healthier. Ha!

We're trying to be more healthy by eating much more vegetables and fruit. Also, we're walking pretty much every day. All this healthy stuff is happening, and I'm still sick!

My life has become odd to the people around me. This weekend, Corey and I created new garden beds and bought our first compost bin. We are so excited about all of this. My collegues took the time to remind me that I'm 23, and that if all I have to be excited about in my life is compost, that, well, I'm a sad individual. So much so, that now there is a concentrated campaign on getting me a life going on in my staffroom. But, I still find compost exciting. I didn't want to mention the mulch and irrigation systems. They just don't understand.