burgeoning

“growing organically in different directions” – was the best way my lecturer described the meaning of this word…

We read an article about a community centre that allowed ‘youth’ who were ‘disadvantaged’ to come and learn about new technologies, in a way that was ‘unstructured’, could build on their confidence and allow them to be active learners. It sounded like a great way to learn and something we as teachers needed to read.

This word stuck out to me because it allowed me to reflect on my life as a learner and a teacher… In fact the whole day or even the whole course has allowed me to do that, it’s just today it took on different meaning.

I believe that I’m pretty fortunate – not to be boastful, it’s the truth and we can’t hide away from that, but I’ve had a pretty damn good education… I’ve had to deal with tough things in my life and in my world they have been huge because it’s what I’ve had to directly deal with but compared to stories I’ve heard, people I’ve known and the children/teens I’ve come across throughout my teaching rounds, generally speaking I’ve had it good and got it good…

Through-out my school life I’ve only ever loathed one teacher – the one who made me feel as though I was dumb (back in Primary School) she made me feel that I couldn’t do anything and I finally made the connection today of the impact that, that has had on me as a person and a learner. My self-esteem was crushed by that and I had this person as a teacher shortly after my parents divorced – which didn’t make matters any better. For a very long time after this I thought that I wasn’t good enough, even when I received Bs and B+s – which aren’t bad grades, it’s just that I thought I couldn’t do better and that I wouldn’t get anywhere… every time I put in all my effort I thought I wasn’t going to do well or that there was no point – that mind-set is horrible…

Luckily though even if it took all the way for me to get uni I finally realised that I can do it and now the majority of my grades are HDs and some of my assignments have even been full marks – my hard work and determination to do well and sometimes even just to do my best is paying off because I allowed myself to stop thinking like that…

The point though that I was trying to make is that we’re constantly talking about what makes us good teachers and I think it really has a lot to do with getting to understand our students… I mean at that point in time of having that teacher my parents had just divorced – I used to walk around with my friends and wouldn’t talk and then had this teacher who expected understanding of a topic straight away…

Plus she was lost in the past because she liked the use of rote learning, the teacher previous to that said that I needed to practice things (eg maths) with concrete learning… A good example of concrete learning came about in my second year the class I was in was learning about change from a dollar – so my mentor set up shops where the children had to sell things e.g books, sports equipment, groceries, fruit/vege, etc and then other students would buy them – so both students would have to learn change from a dollar as a receiver of the change and the giver of change – by learning what added up to a dollar… it’s concrete because they are actually doing it, they are in the action of selling things and counting money. They could then go back and de-brief on what they had just learnt and my mentor made sure they understood what added up to a dollar…

But my teacher at the time was convinced it was ok for students to grasp concepts simply by memorising them and yes sometimes this has its place…but concrete learning gives a complete understanding to a topic and not just the formula – she was a teacher who looked liked she was ready to retire, but still – we have to adapt to the time we live in, etc.

There are many things that I want to be when I’m a teacher or even now as a student teacher and fear that I will turn into one that is like one I haven’t liked for whatever reason… but maybe I need to turn that fear into – I’m going to be like all the ones I loved… and (yes I’m weird…or just lucky) but I have loved or at least liked most of my teachers…

If I could write a letter to those teachers (this is hard because I’m trying to be discrete) it would go something like this:

– To the teacher who allowed us to make numbers out of confetti and then taught me how to spell government with that silent ‘n’.

– To the teacher who made it feel as though maths was fun with “around the world” and believed in my story-writing abilities and who I pretended to dislike when really – you were great. (She also introduced to us peer and self assessment)

– To the teacher who made the classroom feel like we were in Space and who thought I could do anything (when I didn’t.)

– To the teacher who allowed me to love Maths and make me excited to come to your classes (even if now I pray for the students who have to learn Maths from me – it did take me four goes to passthatMaths Test.

-To the teaching who made me feel like giving Drama a go even if I wasn’t going to get the main part…

– To the teacher who made us feel like a family

– To the teacher who never taught me in the classroom but gave me a lot of insights into life e.g the importance of washing hands…

– To the teacher who has always been passionate about women’s education, English/Grammar, poetry, learning in general and has instilled my love of learning and now teaching. – Plus who cared about us as people more than if we did the work, our well-being always came first.

You all got to know me for me, believed in my abilities, was/are passionate, cared about your students as well as the content, made sure we were active learners, never placed labels on us or judged us, integrated learning, etc, etc, etc and are a huge part of why I’m doing what I’m doing…

and have definitely allowed for this “growing organically in different directions” to occur – I wish I could meet with all of you today just to say thank-you and hope to one day teach like you did and I’m sure still do (if you are that is)…

I know that I have the passion and the capabilities it now just has to be put to the test.

Lesson of the day:

Be grateful for what you have instead of looking at what you didn’t get or look at the good in people. Looking at the positive side of things I know is harder but if you do, you’ll feel lighter and less burdened. Being grateful too is just such an amazing feeling… Sometimes also finding the good in someone can make you let go of why you didn’t like them – like another teacher I didn’t like, upon reflection there are a lot things that, that person could have done differently to teach but underneath that all I know that person cares and besides I am the one feeling relieved to let go of a grudge about someone I don’t care about…

We are forever growing…we are forever learning and we are all capable of anything, we just need to believe and put our minds to something.

Signing off because even though I can sleep in tomorrow  but I still want to get some sleep…

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Soup, Tea and Honey.

It is sometimes easier to give in to having a rest. To take a break from life and just relax. Us uni students didn’t get Labour Day off and I think that was the cause of the sore throat I received. I should have had that day off on Monday – it was as though they planned it right when everyone needed it…

(Although I know that’s not really true)

Instead I decided to have two days off right in the middle of the week, but I only did it because I knew I needed it. I’m not the type of person to skip school – trust me… I remember back in 2003 I rocked up to school completely sick, I was wrecked, etc but was still determined to go because I spent all weekend working on an assignment for history…kids these days would probably call me a loser or something… I don’t really know what they say anymore as I’m not one…

I did have moments in the two  years after to make up for being so determined, but I’m pretty sure that was due to illness… because most of the time I loved school… some poeple might have thought the amount of love I had for school was sickening or strange or just plain weird…

The reasoning behind staying home the last couple of days was because last week I had the biggest week which didn’t stop by the time the weekend rolled round and then it was Monday where I had to start again…plus when I left the house on Tuesday all ready to go – my throat felt so sore that right now I’m having trouble to describe just how much…but basically too sore to spend in a classroom full of grade 5/6s and Prep/1s, that’s for sure.

I ended up going straight back to bed and not getting out again until that afternoon where I decided to crawl over to my medical centre, where I spent most of the afternoon wishing I had never left the house…but I needed a medical certificate and had to wait it out. I did so though surrounded by the many characters that enter and leave a waiting room…

There was the elderly couple – who looked like they had lived a good life looking out for each other… the girl who only wanted to smoke a cigerette…and was wearing sunnies inside…the elderly man who piped up about being retired for 17 years and was oblivious to what was going on around him, the girl who walked in looking like she could fall over cos she was that sick, a scary looking person who made me feel incredibly anxious, a woman who swore with everything that came out of her mouth but was as sweet as anything, a really impatient person who kept yelling at the doctor, a mother who kids needed the flu vaccine and another mother with two children…

these children though were very painful to be around and most kids I like, in fact pretty much all children I like (yes I’m deranged…) but seriously their mother was sitting there while they rang around the room, crawled on the floor, threw their ball around, threw tan bark on my lap, spilt their drinks, etc. You name it and these kids did it. While their mother sat and watched them and when she got frustrated would tell them off with a whisper!!! Why… Ok. So I’m not a parent. My experience with children is in the classroom or looking after them while their parents are at work so yes raising them is different and normally I don’t question how children are disciplined but this time I feel like I have to ask – why was she just sitting there???

Eventually and I mean eventually I was greeted by my doctor with “this place is a mad-house and it’s like watching a reality tv show” – see the funny thing is, is every-time I’ve seen her – it’s pretty much the same and then she confirms my sanity and we get down to the diagnosis…and I’m the one that keeps coming back? but then again so does she..

So with medical certificate in hand…I went home via the supermarket to pick up some soup (spicy pumpkin). My new diet for the day consisted of a lot of soup, a lot of tea, warm apple juice and of course honey. Tonight I made chicken, sweet corn soup with vermicelli rice and chili flakes – for that extra kick and I think it’s done the trick or at least I hope it’s done the trick…because I’ve actually got to the point that I want to go back to uni – at least to see my friends…

Also not having my mouth open for the last couple of days unless I really needed to as been such a challenge, I wouldn’t have thought it would be, but then I realised how much I use it…even when alone. I think out loud, I sing to myself and I talk to my appliances/laptop/etc and of course my cat… I’ve even given up talking to my cat to get rid of the sort throat…

Please, please, please – be ok tomorrow… I want things to go back to normal – or relatively anyway….

plus I never want to see Soup, Tea and Honey for a long time…

Lesson of the day:

Rest is good. You need it – so take time every so often to do so otherwise you could burn out or get really ill and none of use want that for anyone…

Take a book to the doctors and immerse yourself in it so that waiting room doesn’t mess with your head and because time goes quickly when you aren’t watching the clock tick.

Signing off so that I can sing again…even if it’s just for fun.

“I want to stay small forever”

At the school where I’m doing my Melbourne based teaching-rounds I had a conversation with a girl about her lunch that somehow lead to her talking about what she wanted to do when she grew up and her answer was “I want to stay small forever” which I thought was incredibly adorable and honest. Because lets face it, how many of us whether they’re 11 or 23 (hers and my age) or even older still… want to actually grow up… I mean here I am going back to school after all!

Ever since I decided that I was going to uni to study teaching/education, I have had a mixed set of reactions and it’s usually between either “Oh you’ll be sooooo good at that” and “How could you stand being with children all day” (or at least something similar)… I always think when I’ve been asked the second of the two: If I’m going into to teaching that means that I must have some likeness towards children – otherwise why do it at all? I guess for some people when they’ve known teachers, it isn’t about the children, it’s about having a job that pays the bills.

Which I think is terribly tragic… Teaching is a job which entails having some sort of interaction with children – even if you’re the type that sets them with worksheets (which is the it’s just a job type), you still have to talk to your students, take the role, tell them to be quiet, etc… So wouldn’t that mean that children is the reason that people would be drawn to the job? Instead of children are there and I just teach them?

I mean that’s why I’m doing it – because I get to have this unique interaction with children, being a part of their lives and seeing them grow and develop. I get to create this great relationship with kids and then teach them. It’s about the children in the room for me…

If I had approached this girl – with “continue with your work, I don’t want to hear about what you like or dislike because it’s an interruption to the other students” or something a long the lines… then we wouldn’t have had that connection… I just would’ve ended up being this scary person in her class on a Tuesday…

Instead I get to know these kids who I discovered were wonderful before teaching them and they get to know me a little bit – so by the time I teach them it’s like we’ve crossed a barrier or a bridge to get to the other side – they form this liking to me and visa versa and the teaching becomes easier and much nicer – for both them and I.

I love children for the simple fact that they say things like wanting to be small forever or get over-excited about doing a subject they love – especially when adults/teachers/parents/carers allow them to do so…

Like these two other girls…

This class was doing a project on the human body, they were broken up into different things which allows us to function e.g respitory or skeletal systems and then had to do research on that particular area before presenting their findings in however way they wanted… I asked these girls if they liked what they were researching and realised that it wasn’t their desire to do so (they were enthusiastic about it which was clearly shown by how they were engaged…) – which I got out of their facial expressions…not by their answers and then I asked

“If you could research anything about any topic, what would it be on” their answer was “sport or drama, but we really like drama” I said “what was it about drama that they liked?” their response “we like crazy stuff and plays!” with the biggest grins on their faces… I then told them that I also taught Drama and then for the rest of the afternoon they said to me:

“DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA” not being my class I said that they had to talk to their teacher but I’m sure we’d be able to do so…. they said “DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA!!” as they left for the day and I thought to myself… oh goodness…what have I done?

But at the same time was pretty excited that kids were getting excited about what I taught!!

I spoke to my mentor and made their dream of me teaching Drama possible – they don’t know this just yet but I’m sure their response when they find out they’re going to do some Drama with me will be “YAAYYYY!”

See – how could anyone NOT like children!!!

After all they make you come home with bright smiles and can make any stress large or small seem like the lightest thing of all…

Lesson of the day:

When you have a great day, be in the moment. This may sound corny, but it’s true. We don’t always have good days and these great ones, make life seem absolutely fantastic.

Love the job you do, make it one that isn’t just to pay the bills – because you’ll just feel great about life no matter your earnings!

Kids aren’t intimating if you smile and get to know them – plus you’re the adult so they’re probably going to be more shy around you then you feel around them!

Signing off to finish my wind-down before I begin another day!

Happy smiling everyone. 🙂

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