Thursday, November 23, 2006

I am thankful for (semi) long weekends. And Emmett.

It's not been a bad day. The kids were okay. I had to teach them the 12 Days of Christmas song as the deputy head just realised the only day he will be able to record the tracks for the school Christmas CD is Monday! Yikes! It went okay though. All my lessons went pretty well today.

One little girl told me today about her trainers. How she'd got them because a lorry broke down and they fell off the back. Yes, she really believes that they fell off the back of a lorry. Interesting. And quite an insight into the kind of school I am in.

I went over to a friend's house tonight and had a good girly chat and watched a DVD. It was fun. Then her husband got back and we had a crazy random chat (the best kind, in my opinion) about various weird urban legends, like the fact that KFC is called KFC instead of Kentucky Fried Chicken because they now use genetically modified birds that are so far from being chickens they don't even have beaks. It was pretty fun.

I also had another cool bonding session with my class teacher after school. She came in once her course was finished so we could plan next week's numeracy and literacy lessons together. Once we finished we had a loooooong chat, about men mostly.

I have uni tomorrow. And then the afternoon off. Woohoo! I am meeting a friend for lunch. Should be cool. Although I am gonna have to do a lot of work on Saturday. Still, I feel a bit like the weekend's come early, which is always nice.

Written on Emmett's homework (by Emmett): This is hard. Too hard for Emmett.

Kid CRACKS me up!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Emmett: Mishaps and Musings" will be out in hardback in the spring

Okay, I'm lying about the book. But it is a great idea. It would totally sell. Well, I'd buy it, haha.

It's been another long and exhausting day. My class teacher is on a course again tomorrow, which in a way feels quite a relief because she won't be there to watch me and I'm not feeling 100% inspired right now. I just want to get through the day. The Friday I have a university-based day, going over classroom layout and timetabling (woohoo! I know, can't you just feel the excitement bubbling up!) which still means leaving the house at the same time in the morning, but I finish at TWELVE, people. That gives me a whole afternoon to myself. Yay!

I am nearing the end of week four of my placement. I am now just over halfway through. You cannot believe the relief I am feeling thinking that. I know I want to be a teacher, and teachers generally are in school 5 days a week, however many weeks a year (39?) but it's all the ridiculously detailed planning and evaluating that is wearing me out so much, and that's not a prerequisite for teaching, only for learning to teach.

On the plus side, there is a school trip to the cinema in a couple of weeks and I get to go. So that should be fun. We're going to see Flushed Away, which does look quite amusing.

And I'll just leave you with the picture of Emmett, painstakingly copying out his joined up handwriting practice and failing to join up ANY of the letters. Not a single one!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

From the mundane to the ridiculous

I got home at six today, same as yesterday. I think this is going to be the regular pattern now up til Christmas. Only 3 days til the weekend.

My observation went okay. The DVD didn't really work as for some reason the picture was really blue. Apparently this is because it was a region 1 DVD and the projector didn't like it, even though the DVD player it was being played on was multi-region. Hmm. Anyway, it was okay and now it's over. We have a final observation booked for 5th December - geography - should be all right, I hope.

And a quick update from the latest escapades of Emmett:
In RE today, lower ability had multiple choice questions based on scriptures. The learning objective was to think about what it means to be friends of God. One particular scripture they had was Jesus' commandment to love one another as he has loved us. The question was "What does John say about being friends with God?"
a) It doesn't make any difference to our lives.
b) We should love each other like He loves us.
c) We should love God but not be too bothered about other people.

Guess which Emmett picked? C!

He does make me laugh.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Something fishy going on....

So, today I met up with a friend of mine and we went for lunch at Bluewater. It was lovely, and my friend got a staff discount in La Tasca because she works in the one up at Canary Wharf. Woo!

We wandered around the shops afterwards and as we were walking around the upper level I looked over the balcony and saw a stand advertising Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil. They had a gigantic inflatable fish!

I had to go for a closer look. There was a bloke in a fish suit! My friend didn't want to be associated with a person taking photos of a guy in a fish suit - I'm not sure why, I thought it was hilarious! - so stood a little distance away while I snapped a couple of shots.

Man in a fish suit

Huge inflatable fish

We had fun. We went and tried on some dresses as I'm her bridesmaid and she wanted to get some ideas for her dress and mine. Found some gorgeous dresses. I saw one I so want for a black tie dinner I have coming up soon. But it's £145 and I really can't justify it, but it's sooooooooooo nice. *sigh*

Oh well, I better get to bed. Just wanted to share with you the crazy things you can see in an English shopping centre. Haha.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Emmett, you little genius!

So, I had this day of non-contact time today. Alongside the reams of lessons I had to plan and assessment records I had to fill out, I also had a hefty pile of marking of all the work the kids have done this week. Their geography topic this term is 'What's in the news' and on Tuesday I had them writing news reports in pairs, based on watching Monday's episode of News Round, the BBC's children's news programme.

So we watched the show, took notes and then I put them into pairs so that the lower ability children would be working with higher ability children. There was an odd number of children in the class that day as one little boy was off sick, so Emmett and Conrad (the boy with the mullet) were also working with Nick. Nick and Conrad are both quite able and Emmett (as I mentioned before) is not so able.

Emmett was having a bit of an off day (although clearly not as off as Wednesday, when he got the ball stuck on his finger). I'm sure it was six of one and half a dozen of the other, but the three of them would not co-operate and no matter how many times I told Emmett to work with the other two, he flatly refused and continued to work on his own. I got frustrated but ultimately left him to it.

I hadn't looked at the finished products until today. They were required to write the news report like a script, so they could perform it, with the best one being performed in their class assembly in a week and a half. This is how Emmett's went:

Emmett: Hello and welcome to News Round. A penguin was trapped in the ice in Antarctic.
Nick: Some film directors saved the penguin.
Conrad: Also, in Portugal there is a chocolate festival.
Emmett: Now we will be back after the break (NB, News Round is a BBC programme - there are no advert breaks on the BBC!)
Nick: Welcome back.
Emmett: There was a 'bird factor' (play on words used in News Round). Birds were singing in Colombia.
Conrad: I've got a small brain.

I laughed out loud to myself in the staff room when I read that. It actually said "I've got a smal bran" but I got the gist of it.

I was just so impressed that he had done something so funny. Of course, I didn't quite know how to mark it. Up to that point I'd been ticking each news item he mentioned, but then that....I was slightly speechless. It seems sometimes, despite appearances, the kid is very much on the planet!

I managed to get through the whole pile of marking and plan about 7 lessons, although I still have so much to do. Wah! I really hoped I'd get more done today and have the weekend to myself. Next week I'm going to stay later after school each day and get marking done as it happens.

But still. Weekend! Woooooohoooooo!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I am NOT talking about Christmas

So there Beka ;P
Let us speak of it no more...

Not that I have much of anything else to say. I am just so tired. Only one more day til the weekend. Woo!

My class defied the laws of physics in science today. Yes, a bunch of seven and eight year olds outwitted Einstein (or whoever it was that invented magnets, c'mon, I'm going to be a Primary school teacher, I don't need to know advanced stuff). They were testing the strength of different sized and shaped magnets by measuring at what distance they would attract a paperclip. They were circulating from table to table in their groups, testing different magnets at each station.

Halfway through the experiment some of the highest ability kids approached me with a pair of magnets. They were the red and blue plastic coated ones that we use for most magnet experiments. They are good because one end is red and one is blue, so they are excellent for demonstrating the principles of north and south poles. Or at least, they were.

"Look, Miss," one of the girls said, holding up the two magnets.

She then proceeded to press the two blue ends of the magnets together and let go. The magnets stuck. I took them off her and pulled them apart. Then I put them together again. I could feel the magnetic pull. I reversed them and pressed the red ends towards each other. I could feel the identical polarities pushing away from each other as they should. I tried the red end to the blue end. They attracted as they should. I put the blue end to the blue end again. They pulled towards each other.

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Nothing!" They protested, then acquiesced, "Well, actually it came apart so Erica* put it back together but she must have put it back the wrong way round."

I then informed them that they had, in fact, defied the laws of physics because I had (and have) NO CLUE how they managed to reverse the polarity of one end of a magnet. It's all kinds of wrong. Talk about messing with the natural order of things!

*NB. From this point on, when I mention a kid by name, just assume it is not their real name. It will save me typing a little "not real name etc etc" every time :)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

How many scary Google hits will I get for a post containing the words 'finger' and 'balls'?

I am exhausted and a little bit miserable. The horrible cold, grey weather doesn't help. Nor does the fact that I am in school for pretty much all the daylight hours at the moment. I left at 5 today. It was totally dark.

My class teacher observed me during literacy today. It went well. She wrote nice things. All in all, today was a lot better. The class responded much better and after taking on board the feedback from my class teacher, they responded even better than that. (Very useful piece of information: if the class is talking on the carpet when you are trying to talk, get them to discuss the point in question with the person next to them for a minute or so - totally gets it out of their system and then they shut up again)

I'm all planned for tomorrow. I will be very glad when tomorrow is over and I can spend all day Friday in the staff room (schweeeeeeet) planning for next week. I have realised the best way to deal with this is one day at a time. That way it's not too overwhelming. It's working.

I saw one of the kids laughing at my picture on the visual timetable today. Grrrr. He's gonna get it! (Joke!!) But still, not helpful to my battered self esteem.

There is this boy in my class, Emmett (not real name, you know the drill blah-de-blah-de-blah) who is the funniest little character. Poor thing gets bullied quite a lot, but unfortunately it is easy to see why. The minute someone does anything to him, no matter how tiny, he is telling on them VERY LOUDLY. Sorry, Emmett, but that is not how to win friends and influence people. The class teacher has a real soft spot for him, and so do I. He's a cutie. One of those kids that somehow manages to look more like a little man than a boy. He gets het up about anything and will actually shake his fists when he's angry. It's the cutest thing, although he probably wouldn't appreciate that we think that way. My class teacher is very good friends with his mum, so we have a bit of a giggle with her in the playground after school.

He's not the brightest button in the box and sometimes you feel like he's not quite on this planet. Today though..... I am supposed to be meeting these professional standards set by the government, and laughing at a child is probably not one of them, but I swear, it was the funniest thing. The class teacher laughed too. The whole class laughed, bless him. But he was quite good humoured about it.

It was during PE. I was teaching, but because of insurance students HAVE to have a qualified teacher with them, which isn't the case with other lessons (hence me being all alone with the class yesterday). I had them practising ball skills - batting and bowling - with plastic racquets and airtex balls - you know, the hollow plastic ones with holes in so the air whizzes through them. Holes that are almost the perfect size to accommodate a child's finger. I say 'almost' because, as we learned today, they are big enough to let in said child's finger, but not quite big enough to let it out again.

The kids had been practising bowling to each other and I called them back to the front of the hall to talk them through the next activity. Suddenly, there's a commotion and in the centre of it is Emmett, finger held out like ET, white airtex ball firmly wedged onto it. And I laughed. I couldn't help it. It was hilarious! The poor little thing eventually had to have the caretaker come and cut it off with a pair of wire cutters. That image will stay with me for a long time.

So it's not all bad! The kids are sweet and funny and I love every one of them.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Commercial Breakdown Part II

Apart from the fact that my televisual viewing is now swamped by irritatingly saccharine scenes of children rushing down the stairs on Christmas morning to gleefully tear the wrapping off some highly overrated toy and every shop promising the lowest prices, there are a couple of adverts that are irritating the snot out of me right now. And I just can't keep it in any more. Something has to be said:

Kerry. Kerry, Kerry, Kerry. Please get off my screen. You may have won I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, but frankly, who cares? I would rather scratch my own eyes out with a pencil than have to witness another painful explanation of why "mums go to Iceland". I guess we all love a good trainwreck and you amply provided such after your split from Brian McFadden, but watching you exercise your somewhat limited acting abilities over a pack of buy-one-get-one-free spring rolls is like actually climbing inside said trainwreck and stepping dismissively over the strewn bodies.

It's fine for Jamie Oliver to promote Sainsbury's. It makes sense - he's a chef. And Prunella Scales did a good job for Tesco a few years back as that amusing yet slightly irritating mother-in-law. But Kerry, nothing puts me off shopping in Iceland more than your nasally whine and apparent orgasms over the stocky guy in overalls who delivers your weekly shop in his "cool van". (Just FYI, Kerry, a van that has Iceland emblazoned on the side - not exactly a hot set of wheels.)

Bottom line, Kerry, you just don't pull off the down-to-earth mum that Iceland seems to want to present. Instead you come across as a desperate wannabe who had her 15 minutes of fame, did her time in rehab and now will do anything to stay on TV. Please, just stop.

The other ad that makes my flesh want to crawl off my body is for Bisto's new cooking sauces. I get what they're trying to do. It's a fact that not nearly enough British families sit down for a meal together regularly. And I do believe that a lot of the problems in our society stem from the family. I don't believe, however, that coming together over a pot of chicken and Bisto sauce is going to cure society's ills. The various children's voiceovers talking about how they want "Dad home from werrrrk, on time" and "Our holideh in Majorceh" grate like nails on a blackboard and the whole thing comes across as completely patronising. Because we never realised that families were supposed to eat together. Thank you Bisto, we could never have figured that out on our own. Please tell us more. Any ideas on the war in Iraq?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

When Doves cry

Today has been a bit of a non-day. I haven't really got anything productive done yet. I've mostly been curled up on the couch, watching my new Little Mermaid DVD and feeling sorry for myself because that sore throat I was talking about has developed into into full blown phlegm attack. I know, nice, right?

Still, I wanted to talk about that Dove ad that's doing the rounds. I've seen it linked a few places, but I can't actually remember where, so sorry to those people who have posted it, because I can't remember who to thank. Anyway, here it is:

I'm so pleased that a company like Dove is talking about the problem of body image, because it feels sometimes like the world is happy to sit back and watch us all try to attain a completely unachievable ideal.

I know I am constantly conscious of 1001 things I think are wrong with my appearance. Talking to some of my friends I wonder if there's a girl in all the Western world who is happy with how she looks and doesn't have a difficult relationship with food.

It feels like we are constantly being lied to just to sell products. This only has 90 calories, this has less than 5% fat, this will increase your metabolism and help you lose weight. But does that make any of those things actually good for us? I know somewhere deep inside me, that the best way to eat is to have a balanced diet, low in refined sugars and saturated fats, but with a balance of all the different food types. But I shy away from it, convinced that it can't be right to eat three meals a day, because surely 3 whole meals will make you fat.

Are carbs good or bad? Is meat beneficial or are we better off eating other subsitutes? Dairy is generally full of fat, but the calcium in it is very good for us. How did the women of the world survive before Ski Fat Free Yoghurts?

This panoply of ideas leaves me confused, hopping from one concept of healthy to another, standing in the aisle of the supermarket for 15 minutes staring at the variety of diet pills and wondering if any of them actually work. If I skip a few meals my body craves sugar and I end up pigging out on a variety of high fat, high sugar snacks. I have also yet to find a form of exercise I really enjoy, apart from dancing, but I feel intimated by the other girls at dance classes with their amazing co-ordination, perfect hair and svelte physiques.

Will we ever be satisfied with being bigger than a size six (US size 2)? (Which, by the way, I have never and will never be a size 6.) Because I see those Dove commercials and I love the message they're giving, but I look at all the curvy women in their underwear and think, "No, I don't want to look like that." Because straight afterwards Kate Moss parades across my screen reviving her skin with a simple application of the latest Rimmel foundation and she looks simply stunning and how can the rest of us ever compete?

So keep it up, Dove. And maybe one day you'll convince the rest of us of what we really, really need to know.