Saturday, 28 April 2012

Time for a Rainy-Day Story

They say there is a silver lining to every cloud, and as I was attempting to push start my car in the pouring rain this afternoon, I found my silver lining. The up side to looking like a drowned rat is that 'well, every blogger needs a good story to tell'! So settle in with a cup of tea or curl up on the couch, it's story time.

Once upon a time, in a land where rain does not cease, a certain damsel (whom we shall not name) had spent a most pleasant afternoon in the company of her fair maiden friend. Unfortunately, afternoons quickly turn into evenings and there were civic duties yet to be performed that day (i.e. voting). The maidens parted ways and stepped into their silver and gold Corolla Carriages to return to their castles; one carriage pulled out gracefully and exited, spraying a fan of water into the air. The other was not so successful (these modern day carriages are rather technical beasts!) and the carriage refused to start. This particular damsel, having been in similar situations before, knew exactly what to do-what every damsel does best when she is in distress-call for help. She pulled out her magic wand (in this day and age, known as a 'mobile phone') and called for her father to come and rescue her.
Her hero gallantly drove up, cloaked in a high-vis raincoat and armed with the tools to do battle with the beast. The damsel, having a very limited knowledge of the workings of carriages and being somewhat intimidated by the complexities of the beast, stood back, while attempting to be useful and helpful. The beast bested all of the tools and so the hero resorted to physical force and with the damsel's feeble attempts at helping, he pushed the Corolla up the hill, and then down the hill, and then up the hill, and back down the hill, but the beast refused to cooperate and the carriage would not move of its own accord. Meanwhile, the damsel, soaked to the bone (really, what damsel remembers to carry a practical item like a raincoat with her!), was growing increasingly anxious, as she had her civil duties to perform as well as a pressing engagement for the evening. After a few more attempts, the hero bravely determines to stay and face the beast alone, sending the damsel off in his carriage. Soon reinforcements arrive and it is determined that the best thing to do is to drag the carriage back to the castle so that it can be examined under shelter, out of the rain.
Although the damsel is now without her own personal carriage, her hero is on the case, and he will best the beast and come out victorious!
Every damsel needs a hero she can call on-this one is particularly grateful for hers.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Lest We Forget

In honour of my countrymen and forefathers who have fought for freedom in the past, and those who continue to fight for that same freedom today, I set aside this post to commemorate and remember their sacrifices. The human rights that so many of us take for granted, our freedom of speech, our access to healthcare, education and basic necessities have all been fought for. In the trenches at Gallipoli our forefathers were fighting to make this world a better and safer place. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Rwanda, East Timor and all around the world, Australian troops have been working and fighting for those same freedoms. They fight to ensure that every man, woman and child has the opportunity to 'have a fair go'-that iconic Australian value, something that we all believe in, but that few are willing to fight for. So today, on Anzac Day, when we remember the landing of the first ANZACS at Gallipoli, may we also remember those that have fought since then and that are still fighting today for those same freedoms. May we honour their sacrifices and may we never forget that everything comes at a price, including freedom.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Disney Princesses vs. Jane Austen Heroines

After much research and deliberating, I have reached the point where a confession needs to be made. Now for it: I live in a world of fiction and fairytales. Yes, it is true, there is no denying it-too often I am lost in another time and another world, far away from here and now.
I am no longer six years old, but the fairytale Disney princesses have not lost their charm, even in comparison to Jane Austen's heriones. You see, there is something (excuse the cliche) enchanting about Disney princesses: Belle at the ball with singing candlesticks and teapots, Rapunzel letting down her long hair and seeing the floating lights, Cinderella losing her glass slipper, Giselle and her animal 'friends' who sing a happy working song, all of whom are rescued by handsome princes in faraway lands and kingdoms where good will reign supreme and they all live happily ever after (and a small part inside of every girl gives a little sigh).
But then, there is something alluring and inviting about the heroine who gets into scrapes, is witty and knows her own mind, who makes mistakes, goes on picnics in the country, runs along pavements to dramatic soundtracks, dances at balls, takes long walks and in the end marry the man that's been there all along, but they just haven't realised that they actually were in love! The little girl inside me can still delight in the Disney princess who sings her way to marrying her prince and the hopeless romantic in me loves the part where he rescues her, but in the end, I'll take the Jane Austen heroine. Now, will it be Emma, who is scolded and reprimanded with 'badly done Emma!' and who declares that 'You know I love you and always will, but we can never marry' to the complete bewilderment of her fiance. Or Lizzy, who declares that 'you are the last man in the world whom I could ever marry.' Or Anne Elliot, who thinks it's all too late but gets a second chance and is 'in receipt of your proposal and am minded to accept it'.
Ultimately it's those quotable and memorable lines and sweet melodies that hook me in and I have to confess myself to be a hopelessly incurable romantic (who has no intention of ever being cured and no desire to change that) and accept the fact that I live in a world of fiction and fairytale.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Lessons from Students

Here are some things that I have 'learned' from my students in my teaching endeavours:

~The ANZACS at Gallipoli had mobile phones as they had to get 'prepaid' (perhaps this should have been 'prepared'!)
~'though' is now spelled 'tho'
~cats not only make for funny youtube videos, they are also highly amusing to write about
~surprise birthday parties were common events in the trenches in WWI
~It Is Now Appropriate For Every Word In A Sentence To Start With A Captial Letter (doesn't that just drive you insane and make you want to get out the red pen!)
~ 3 lines is synonymous with 3 paragraphs and should therefore be an acceptable draft length
~the brakes on a car can be 'jabbed on'
~a 'sent' can overpower a car
~'affined' -definitions anyone?

It's the giggles that are keeping me sane!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Lessons for the Teacher

In my few short weeks as a teacher, I can honestly say that I have been on a roller-coaster ride, but along the way I have learned a few lessons which I know I will keep learning and that this list is only the beginning.

Lesson #1: Don't walk into a post at lunch time and then walk into the door frame going into class-firstly, it isn't a very good look, secondly, it makes you rather dazed and thirdly your students somehow find it rather amusing
Lesson #2: Be prepared for anything, including being unprepared-have a lesson plan, but be willing to throw it all away and start over and go with the flow
Lesson #3: End the day with a laugh, it makes going back tomorrow all the more bearable after a rough day
Lesson #4: Don't take home work that you know you aren't actually going to do-decide what really needs to be done that night and take that, and only that home-your back will thank you and it also diminishes the risk of leaving something at home!
Lesson #5: Be honest and real with your students, they will respect you more for it
Lesson #6: Baking brownies for your staffroom opens up a world of resources and assistance from much more experienced teachers
Lesson #7: Ask for help-it helps!
Lesson #8: Know that tomorrow is a new day and that today's mistakes are now history and that you can move on
Lesson #9: Be yourself-don't try to be like the teacher next door, learn from other teachers, but own your teaching and make it yours (this is a process that will take me many years as I work on developing 'my own teaching style')
Lesson #10: Have a sense of humour, have a cup of tea and don't lose sight of why you are doing this job even through the tears and frustration

In no way have I learned all of these lessons yet (although I think I'm pretty good at #6), but these are the things that I keep reminding myself of as I try to become a better teacher, though there are some days when I think I learn more than I manage to teach my students!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Revelling in Universal Truths

During my school holidays (which does not, may I hastily add, mean that I have had a break from work, simply a break from students) I have spent some time indulging my weakness for BBC Period Dramas and Jane Austen. I have revelled in the luxury of escaping to another time and place, where the ladies wear beautiful dresses and deal with 'shelves in the closet,' riding donkeys to strawberry parties, engagements which are most emphatically not elephants and many other such conundrums.
An added element to the joy of engaging in some good old fashioned romance is that I have been to a few of the locations where the films are either set or filmed and have visited the author's house where she penned some of those witty and famous universal truths. It has meant that I can both enjoy the story for its own sake as well as take my own venture down memory lane to the places I have explored.

So, please excuse me as I return to the era in which I should have been born.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Not Quite Disillusioned

Somewhere, Somehow, Sometime

Somewhere, somehow, sometime
I had had an inkling
That I didn't really
Fully and completely
Understand what on earth
I was really getting
Myself into with this job

Somewhere, somehow, sometime
I knew it would be hard
From stories I'd heard
People I'd met
Advice I had received
And promptly ignored
I knew it would be rough

Somewhere, somehow, sometime
I'd met some students
Stood in front of a class
Planned a lesson or two
Designed a worksheet
And made some booklets
Done my research and prepared

Somewhere, somehow, sometime
I'd naively assumed that
Just four short years
Of essays, reports and study
Would be enough to prepare
Me for this career and
The work would be easy

Somewhere, somehow, sometime
I proved myself wrong
The illusion has come
Plummeting earthward
And now I know that
The real work has just begun
With no end near in sight

Somewhere, somehow, sometime
I know that the
Tippety, tappety typing
And destruction of entire
Rainforests of paper
Did not end with graduation
But were only the beginning

Somewhere, somehow, sometime
With sleep merely a dream
I consume chocolate and tea
Out of sheer desperation to
Maintain some small degree
Of the sanity that so quickly
Has begun to elude me

Somewhere, somehow, sometime
The hope and ideals
That got me through the study
And the dreams of imparting
Knowledge and learning
Will sustain me through
And hold the disillusion at bay

Somewhere, somehow, sometime
My dreams of leaving this world
A better place, of making
Some kind of difference
And making it possible
For others to dream
And to acheive

Somewhere, somehow, sometime
Those dreams and ideals
Will live on and then
The sleepless nights
And loss of sanity
Will be all worthwhile
Somewhere, somehow, sometime